Author: Lauren DeStefano
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Hardcover, 341 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
SUMMARY: Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.
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 mansion...by any means necessary.
Beautiful, chaotic, devastating.
In this sequel to Wither, Rhine and Gabriel are tugged around by decision and fate.
The character development in this book is phenomenal. Rhine and Gabriel struggle through several horrific situations, and are forced to make tough decisions and endure emotional turmoil, which stretches and tests their relationship. It is how Rhine faces these dire circumstances which makes her one of my favorite protagonists ever. She's fierce, loyal, and brave, but not hard-hearted. My heart broke for Gabriel and his particular struggles in this book. Poor guy can't get a break.
I admire DeStefano's uncanny ability to create unforgettable characters. Everyone we meet has an original backstory and help shape Rhine and Gabriel through their interaction. NO ONE mentioned is 2-dimensional. Even the villains are utterly human. Both Vaughn and the ringmistress are downright creepy and disturbing on SOOO many levels, yet neither are purely evil. We learn more about the justification for their twisted actions--whether or not this earns them sympathy is up to you.
The setting, as Rhine and Gabriel travel from place to place, the whole tragic beauty of the devastation is ominous and poignant. I could never tell whether something good or bad would happen next, though good and bad are hopelessly relative in their world. Carnivals and abandoned circuses have creeped me out before, but this one will truly haunt me.
DeStefano's prose is gorgeous and eloquent. The lyrical style alone keeps this series in my top favorite books. Rhine is just an interesting person all-around, and her voice throughout the book is truly endearing.
The book cover is as lovely as the words beneath it. PLEASE JUDGE THIS BOOK BY ITS COVER! I found myself looking back at the cover as the plot progressed to find meaning to various objects scattered about the picture. It's accurate right down to Rhine's drugged and weary expression--this photographer deserves a bonus, forreal.
The ending--oh, what an ending. It left me gasping for Sever like oxygen.
If you loved Wither, READ THIS. If you hated Wither, READ THIS because it might change your opinion.
Violence: Moderate (some disturbing images)
Sexuality: Moderate (kissing, sensuality, suggested images of prositution)
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate (depicted effects of substance addiction/abuse)
This review also appears on Goodreads and brailynnecorr.com.