Wither - Lauren DeStefano
First of all DeStefano is an unbelievable writer. She has a way with words and interweaves such beautiful imagery (especially Rhine's dreams -- I found myself gasping aloud at some of those scenes). The world that she created is horrifying, yet beautiful. Part of the charm of the book comes from the fact that it's hard to not be disgusted yet fascinated by everything that Rhine experiences. I wrestled with wanting to live in the mansion with her (slightly jealous of those hours she spent reading in the library) yet being equally horrified by the injustices of her society. In most dystopians, the reader is usually rooting for the heroine to escape her oppressive society (I'm thinking mainly of Katniss in the Hunger Games, when we rooted for her to emerge from the Arena, victorious, or Tris in Divergent, crossing my fingers that she would escape her factioned society). I think that most dystopians are written such that the reader immediately identifies with the heroine and hates the world that she is forced to inhabit, a world described in such terms that no one in their right mind would ever want to live there. Even The Capitol in the Hunger Games is presented as ridiculous, and reminded me of what our own society is like with beauty and plastic surgery, not a desirable form of beauty by any means. But the haunting beauty of Rhine's world is harder to hate. It's not entirely loveable either, but there's just something about the world that she inhabits that made me want to crawl inside the book and live her life for myself.
Honestly, I'm really not sure what else to say about this book, other than this: if you haven't yet read it, you must. All of the rave reviews online are not over exaggerating this book: it is one that you don't want to miss. I want to read Fever right away, but at the same time I'm also going to let Wither settle in my mind for a few days. I've already flipped back through the book a few times, rereading snippets of the story and feeling chills up and down my spine.