Friday, May 11, 2012


Woot Woot!

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

What I'm loving about DeStefano's series is that it is unlike anything else I've ever read. I try to compare it to other young adult fiction I've read recently and I can't do it. Sure, it's another dystopian novel, but so many of the other dystopian plots out there at least have a glimmer of hope to them. DeStefano has created a completely hopeless world filled with young people who see no reason to waste time because their lives are so short. While the premise might seem a little odd and somewhat romantic DeStefano manages to shed the gloom and doom on a world that is slowly dying like all of the characters. 

We find our lovebirds, Gabriel and Rhine, on the run only to get caught in a morbid, creepy scarlet district headed by an old woman referred to as Madame. This is just the first in a series of events that show a broken world that is darker than Rhine had remembered. Gabriel seems disappointed in the world void of holographs and beauty. 

The relationship between Gabriel and Rhine is beautiful. They have chemistry and love between them that DeStefano describes beautifully. While many young adult novels are utilizing the love triangle plot, DeStefano has not gone that route which is quite refreshing. Linden seemed to be a part of a love triangle in the first book, but I don't think Rhine loves him in the way that qualifies as competition to Gabriel. Here is yet another proof that DeStefano's series is going against the latest mold in young adult fiction. 

DeStefano's writing is superb. Her prose is pitch-perfect. While her characters are drugged or sick, the reader can feel the fever and the dreamlike state just through the words on the page. 

In Whither Rhine was strong and defiant, willful and quietly scheming. With this followup we find our heroine broken just like the world that surrounds her. She is disenchanted pretty quickly once she is captured by Madame. When she was a prisoner in Linden's mansion, she seemed larger than life, bigger and capable of escape even though her situation was so futile. When she was supposed to be free, she wasn't actually free, but she seemed smaller and more and more hopeless throughout this book. It is a story that is masterfully told and the reader is taken on a journey through a world of despair. 

In closing, DeStefano manages to use imagery to show this dying world. A ferris wheel at Madame's twisted carnival that still turns. A malformed child. Girls in the scarlet district stripped of their identities and assigned colors as their names. A broken pitcher used to become Rhine's only means of escape from Vaughn's iron grip. A fortune teller woman with tarot cards.

I look forward to DeStefano's final installment, Sever, so that I can see what happens to Rhine and Gabriel. Will she finally find her brother, Rowan? Will she discover what her parents were keeping from her and her twin? Will she be reunited with Gabriel? Will the world be cured from the virus? So many questions! I hope DeStefano answers them. And I also look forward to the other adventures she has in store for us. 

One opal cloudlet in an oval form

Reflects the rainbow of a thunderstorm

Which in a distant valley

has been staged--

For we are most artistically caged. 

--Vladimir Nabokov, "Pale Fire"

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