Thursday, April 12, 2012

Abducted by Wither

I decided to finally listen to the audio version of Wither by Lauren DeStefano because my friend Andrea at The Overstuffed Bookcase is co-hosting the Catch Wither Fever event with her friend Jessie from The Daily Bookmark.  Jessie and Andrea put a lot of work into this event, and even though Wither was not a good fit for me personally, I know a lot of other bloggers have read and loved this series. You can click on this link HERE and it will take you to a post that shares links for several other reviews for the books.

I have this thing where when I read a book, in order for me to enjoy it I have to be able to connect to the characters in the story. Now, on one hand, that is a good quality to have. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a novel that rely's more on the character development then the action that takes place. So, someone like me who likes character driven stories will enjoy it, while those readers that desire more action may find it boring.

However, this also means that when it comes to novels like Wither, that rely more on the concepts within and the actions of the world the author is creating, and less on the actual characters, for me it was extremely hard to enjoy. If I can't connect to the characters in a story then the struggles they go through mean nothing to me. And, unfortunately, that was the main problem I had with Wither.

The story follows the main character named Rhine after she has been kidnapped and forced into a polygamous marriage. I felt bad for all that Rhine went through, but I felt like at times she acted like she was above her two sister wives. I appreciated the responsibility she felt for her fellow sister wives, but in the beginning she made a couple of comments about how she was nothing like them, and that just didn't sit well with me.

A lot of comments have been made about people not liking the whole idea behind the polygamous relationships in the book. For me, it wasn't that I had any moral objection to the polygamous marriages or that I felt the book was promoting that life style or anything like that. But in this day and age we read so many books that involve love triangles and we are trained to pick a side and usually root for one relationship over another. It was impossible for me to root for Lindon (the husband), seeing on how whenever he wasn't by Rhine's side he was off trying to impregnate two other girls (one of whom was 13)!

And I also couldn't root for Lindon because I never felt comfortable with him. Rhine often refers to him as her "captor", and that is how I always saw him. Whenever she did start to develop "feelings" for him, I felt like it was more that she was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Also, I felt that Lindon was a rather weak character. We are told in the book that he only took on the additional wives because his first wife (and first love, Rose) asked him to. We are told that he also believes his wives volunteered to become wives because that is what he has always been taught. We are told that he is also afraid of the water, simply because his father told him it made him sick when he was a kid. Yes, Lindon was ignorant to the truth of what was going on around him, but I got the impression that he wanted it that way. It kind of seemed to me that he was perfectly content to be lead around like a puppet because I didn't seem him challenge or question anything.

A lot of people may say that the reason he acted like a puppet was because he was being controlled by his evil father, but I never got the impression that his father was really that evil. Sometimes he may stand a little to close for comfort, sure, but that was the only problem I had with him. Now, there were references to him dissecting bodies in the basement, but through out the whole book he is known for being obsessed with finding a cure. How else was that going to happen if he wasn't doing something?

That was another thing...the book keeps saying that the reason men take on additional wives is to have a lot of babies and the reason they have to have a lot of babies is to try to find a cure for why everyone is dying so young...but how is that supposed to happen exactly? I don't understand how having a lot of babies will eventually result in a cure. What were they looking for? What were they hoping for? And I understand that Rhine may have belonged to the group that believed they should let nature take its coarse and quit fighting for a cure, so she may not have agreed with the work that Lindon's father was doing, but that still didn't explain why she seemed so shocked by it all.

I also felt that for a novel that had such a creative concept, the world itself that was created in the story lacked imagination. I loved that they got to swim in a pool with hologram fish and sharks and sunken ships, but some of the other technology in the story seemed halted. For example there is one scene where Rhine has to where contacts, but they were described to be exactly like the contacts we use today. Now, given how much eye-wear has changed in the last hundred years, why wouldn't it have changed even more for a story that takes place centuries in the future. And the characters made multiple references to books and movies from our time, but if the story takes place centuries in the future, wouldn't they have other books to make references of? I mean, John Green just released a book with an entirely fictional author and multiple fictional books for his characters to make references to. I would have appreciated it more if the author had chosen to create fictional work to reference instead of continually bringing up books from this century because it made it harder for me to believe that this story was supposed to take place so far in the future. There was another thing I didn't like, about the hurricanes and how much hot chocolate was consumed in this story, but I feel that if I mention it now I'll just come off sounding petty, so I'll leave it alone.

Because I couldn't attach to any of the characters, and was bothered by some of the technical aspects of the story I'm afraid I will have to give this one an abduction rating of...
I really didn't like it, but as I said at the beginning, a lot of other readers have loved it so if you have any doubts about my review feel free to check out theirs and check out the event hosted by Andrea and Jessie by clicking HERE


Kimberly @ Midnight Book Girl said...

I'm sorry you didn't like it, but you wrote a good review! I get where your coming from on a lot of this stuff, most of which I didn't even really notice when I was reading (like how the books were all from our time, or the Stockholm Syndrome factor). For me though, I was able to push that aside (except for Cecily, that bothered me a whole lot!)

fakesteph said...

I totally know what you mean!!!!! Vaughn's work... really didn't bother me. He went about it in a creepy way, but I'm all for science and Rose was dead. I honestly think she would have WANTED her body to be used if it could cure Linden. She LOVED Linden.

And I hated that Cecily got pregnant. It was horrifying. That was probably my favorite part of the book, though... well, not favorite, but the part that I reacted to most. It had a purpose, it exposed the way the characters in the book world thought and how messed up their logic was.

I couldn't stand Linden. You are right. He didn't want to know, because it is easier to be ignorant.

The only thing I disagree with are the references to our books and movies. With the world falling apart, art will decline. That is one of the ways you can tell how developed a country is--how much and the variety of art, music, entertainment. I totally believed that with the country so screwed up, they would be left with the art of the past... HOWEVER... if there is no new art, there should be no new technology. You can't have it both ways.... SO... Good catch!!! I'm just kind of talking in circles now. :)

Bittner said...

Thank you both for commenting on my post!
Kim- Yes, the pregnancy part was horrifying. I couldn't get through that part fast enough! And I agree that when entering a new world through books or movies, to a certain degree you have to suspend your beliefs and give the author a little leeway. Normally, I can do that to a certain degree, but only if I'm attached to a character, then I end up caring so much about them that the discrepancies in the book don't bother me. Unfortunately, I couldn't attach to anyone in this book, so a lot of things bothered me.

Steph- the point you made about how the creation of art would have slowed down as people were dying off so young, was brilliant! I did not think of that at all, and you are totally right! I would still argue that the book takes place so far in the future that more recent art could have been referenced, but still, that was a great point to make!

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Well, Bittner, you know my thoughts on this book, since we've already discussed it. Obviously I liked it a bit more than you, and I still think it's got a gorgeous cover, but I don't know that I'll be in a hurry to read the third book in the series...

Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase said...

Okay, I'm finally getting around to commenting on your review! I'm so sorry it took me so long!

You and I are different in the way we read books - you are all about the characters and I'm more about the plot. But this book, while it has this crazy plot, seemed to me to focus more on the characters. But I don't know that it succeeded in that area, either. I did like some of the characters (namely Jenna), but I can see where you wouldn't connect with them.

Jessie also mentioned Stockholm Syndrome in her review and I totally hadn't thought about it until then! But you guys both make a great point! It is quite possible that all of Rhine's feelings for Linden are simply part of Stockholm Syndrome.

And the worst part for me was the whole 13-year-old getting impregnated. That was horrible! And even though it was part of this society, I really just couldn't let it slide.

I also didn't think Vaughn was very evil at all. He did some creepy things, but almost all of what we learn of Vaughn is just Rhine's speculation about what he might be doing. And I think it's weird that Vaughn is the only one in the story that really is doing anything about finding a cure. I think his tactics aren't exactly admirable (because you wonder how many people he killed just for his research), but this is a book about a virus that kills people at this young age, and they're all about procreating and sustaining human life, but hardly anyone is actually trying to find a cure. Kinda strange to me.

Great review Courtney. I'm sorry that you didn't like it but I agree with so much of what you said in this review. And your review, while considered a "negative review" because you didn't like the book and gave it a low rating, isn't negative or mean. You just state what you didn't like and what didn't work for you and honest, kind reviews are the best, I think. ;)

Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Winds of Change kit by NatashaNaSt Designs