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Extended Audio Sample Wither, by Lauren DeStefano Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (40,636 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lauren DeStefano Narrator: Angela Lin Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Chemical Garden Trilogy Release Date:
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By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of twenty-five years, and females a lifespan of twenty years—leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement; her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next; and Rhine has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Lauren DeStefano crafts an all-too-believable future. I loved the world, the romance, the writing—exactly the kind of book I’ve been craving to read.”

    Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author

  • “This beautifully written debut fantasy, with its intriguing world-building, well-developed characters and intricate plot involving flashbacks as wella s edge-of-the-seat suspense, will keep teens riveted.”


  • The Handmaid’s Tale for YA readers…DeStefano has an observant and occasionally pitiless eye, chronicling the cruelties, mercies, and inconsistencies of her young characters…It will be intriguing to see how DeStefano develops it as this promising trilogy progresses.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This haunting and inventive tale…combines elements of romance and suspense in a character-driven dystopia…This excellent audio will expand DeStefano’s audience to those who like to read with their ears.”

    Booklist (audio review)

  • “This character-driven dystopia, more thoughtful than thrilling, sets up an arresting premise that succeeds because of Rhine’s poignant, conflicted narrative and DeStefano’s evocative prose. Many will appreciate the intense character drama.”


  • “Rhine…proves herself to be a heroine who faces her situation with spirit and cleverness. The trapped bride and mysterious husband are straight out of gothic romances. By stirring in elements of sheer creepiness with dystopia and the hot topic of polygamy, DeStafano creates a story that should have broad appeal.”

    School Library Journal

  • “Reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale with a touch of Big Love…Rhine’s fight for freedom against the clock—and the dissecting table—will leave reader eager for the sequel. Give this one to fans of the Hunger Games trilogy or Ally Condie’s Matched.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “DeStefano has begun an incredibly detailed adventure, with characters who are multifaceted and engaging. The world she has created is frighteningly possible, and her writing is simply page turning.”

    RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

  • A Booklist Best Book for Young Adults: 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Molly | 2/16/2014

    " Polygamy being the premise of a YA book isn't typical and I suppose that's why I liked it - it was something different. The main character seemed to have a better connection with her husband than with her love interest, which I don't think was the author's purpose but that's how it seemed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Julie Planas | 2/5/2014

    " An interesting book...but of course I wish there was more romance waaaah "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Josilyn | 1/29/2014

    " I ate this book right up! I loved everything about it: the world, the society, the girls who are forced to be brides. Lauren DeStefano paints a vivid picture of a horrifying society with deft prose and a compelling storytelling style. I am very intrigued and itching to get my hands on the next two books in the series. If you love alternate universes/dystopia, strong heroines, romance, and an impossible-to-put-down story, this one's for you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sydney | 1/7/2014

    " This book was very interesting.... The concept- that almost everyone dies at a young age, so people try to procreate and take care of all that as soon as they can- is so original. So there is Rhine, she is just one of the many girls who are kidnapped daily and sold to wealthy men or sold into prostitution. She is bought by a man to become his wife along with two other girls who become her sister wives. Even though she develops an odd but comforting relationship with her sister wives and 'husband', Rhine struggles everyday to find a way out of her prison and back to her twin brother who she left behind. I really enjoyed this book. There were a few slow parts that I skimmed over but the rest of the book made up for that. Also, this book was really sexual, as a book about this can only be, but it was handled in a very mature way that didn't make it awkward or difficult to read. In all, this was a very original book and a great read. "

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About the Author
Author Lauren DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano is the bestselling author of the Chemical Garden trilogy. The second book in the series, Fever, was a New York Times bestseller. She received a BA in English from Albertus Magnus College and has been writing since childhood. Before becoming a writer she worked as a receptionist, an English tutor, and a tax collector.