So..here’s the thing. I read Wither by Lauren DeStefano last December. My dear friend Steph from Steph Su Reads passed it on to me one night while we hung out because I was SUPER bummed I didn’t get it in my mailbox along with everyone else. I immediately came home, curled up next to my fireplace (my preferred reading spot in the winter) and read all night long. Literally. I read and LOVED Wither last December and here I am now writing about it. Why might you ask?
This may sound like a cop-out but I couldn’t review it. I loved it SO much that I just needed to let it be. I expressed my love on Twitter and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and let it be done. I just finished Fever last night (OMG so good!) and I felt really strong urge to express my feelings about Wither before I do so at some later juncture about Fever. This is not a review. I’m simply going to give you my reading experience with Wither and that will be that.
Reading Wither to me was reminiscent to my childhood reading. When I was younger my imagination was so alive that descriptions in books were incredibly vivid to the point where I really felt oppressed by the weight of living on the prairie or as an orphan in a boxcar. This is how Wither was to me…at 25 years old with a imagination that rarely gets used. It made me remember why I love reading in general. The world that Lauren DeStefano creates in Wither became a very real place and the mood pulsed through my veins so much so that I don’t recall ever remembering that others went to bed and that the fireplace went out. I felt despair and anguish with Rhine in this foreign place. I felt the coldness that just emanated from the mansion where Rhine was held against her will and that need to survive at all costs. I felt the bond between the sister wives and the way they truly needed each other. Everything was just so real to me.
I wasn’t marred by my need to over analyze the plot or the choices or the style. I didn’t think about anything other the story. I just let it be like I did as a child. There was innocence in that reading. I may not have known about plot devices or climax or anything like that but I knew when I was held captive by a story. I knew that crazy sensation of shaking yourself out of the pages of the book that you were so entangled in and finding yourself back in reality. I knew the feeling of willing more pages to appear because you just weren’t ready to be done with the flimsy few pages that were suddenly left because you plowed through the book at an alarming pace. That is how I felt about this book.
Lauren DeStefano’s writing is undoubtedly beautiful and lush and worthy of being savored. My only regret is not slowing down. I mean, but how could I, I needed to know what happened. Her writing is something to get lost in. This story was something to get lost in. She wrote the characters in a way that they have stuck with me the way a select few do so vividly – wonderful wonderful Rhine with her unbreakable spirit and will to fight. Delicate, naive Cecily who just doesn’t know any better but has more strength than giving credit for. Loveable Gabriel who is certainly worthy of Rhine’s eye. Kind and nurturing Deidre who you forget is so young. Strong, fierce Jenna who is quite a mystery but recognizes the truth. Housemaster Vaughn whose evilness is truly frightening. And Linden. Oh Linden. Perhaps one of my favorite characters. For SO many reasons. Some of these characters were able to provide that bit of beauty and hope in a world and situation that just seems devoid of life, devoid of hope for the future and devoid of true, unfettered love.
I know of some who had problems with things in the book. I know that I didn’t quite understand the world, how it came to be, why people still wanted to have children, etc. For me, I didn’t need to know or understand for some reason. I knew halfway through that I could never analyze this book to death. I didn’t want to pick it apart. I wanted to enjoy the experience. I’m not saying those of you who had problems with it are wrong. I’m not saying it is a perfect book. I’m just saying that when a book grabs a hold of me and reminds me why I enjoyed reading in the first place…it is time for me to let go and just get lost. And I did. Wholly.
If you haven’t read Wither and enjoy YA dystopian novels, I’d honestly recommend this one. The writing is beautiful, the characters are beyond real and the world is frightening. Even if you don’t read YA but like dystopian novels, I’d honestly still recommend this to you as someone who reads and reviews both YA and adult. In fact, I’d really encourage you to pick it up. I honestly would forget sometimes that I’m reading about a young girl because these characters are in a situation that makes them grow up tremendously…so if that kind of “young POV” thing bothers you..you should know it is not there. Their “age” shows through sometimes but appropriately because they are young girls being forced to be wives and mothers and confront dying at an early age.
Have any of you ever had an experience like this? You loved a book too much to review it? Have a book that honestly made you remember why it is that you love reading?