28 July 2011

BOOK REVIEW - Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I've been wanting to read Lauren DeStefano's WITHER for ages now but it always seemed to be checked out of the library every time I went.  Well, I finally got to the top of the waiting list recently and boy was it worth the wait!

Warning- Spoiler Alert!

From the very first page, the world that Lauren DeStefano created drew me in.  Unlike many dystopian worlds, the world of WITHER seemed highly believable given the social circumstances.  Even though not all of the characters were in the same situation, they each were affected by the virus in their own way.  I could really feel the desperation and fear of each character.  What really was interesting to me was that since all of the characters were feeling similar emotions, their reasons for feeling that way became one of the most important parts of the story.  For example, Rhine, Jenna, and Linden both felt fear living in the mansion, but none of them were afraid of the same thing.

I also felt like Rhine's character was very genuine.  As a young woman myself, I constantly found myself thinking, What would I be feeling if I were in Rhine's situation right now?  And the answer was always, Exactly how Rhine feels in the story.  DeStefano did a fantastic job capturing the real, raw emotions of a trapped teenager in fear for her life.  While I've never been in a situation like Rhine's (thank goodness!), I simply could not imagine myself feeling any differently than she did.  As a female reader, it was refreshing to see a female lead not immediately give in to the social pressures around her.  The fight in Rhine, given her circumstances, made her seem very real, and made her story memorable.

But of course- this story is not just about Rhine.  Who can forget about Gabriel?!  Even though he was in the text less than Jenna, Cecily, and Linden, as a character I felt as though he was second in importance only to Rhine.  His transformation from an obedient servant to a young man with fire inside of him was the most moving part of WITHER.  His story showed that it's possible to fight what you've been taught if you want something different.  As a counterpart to Rhine, it is interesting to see their stories unfold in parallel.  On one hand, you have Rhine, who knows from the get-go exactly what she wants (even if she does waver occasionally), and just needs a way to get it.  On the other hand, there's Gabriel, who doesn't like what he has but takes a long time to come to terms with the decisions he needs to make.  Rhine and Gabriel are really the two characters who provide uniqueness and voice to WITHER.

And the ending...well...if this was a stand-alone book, I would have hated the ending- very cliché.  However, knowing that WITHER is just the first book of a trilogy, the ending was fine.  It wasn't very exciting, but it (almost) works as a cliffhanger for book two (FEVER, due out 2/21/2012).

I definitely definitely recommend WITHER to anyone with even the slightest interest in YA dystopian novels.  If you haven't been hooked in the past, read WITHER anyway!  It doesn't have crazy apocalyptic events like some other dystopians, and the believability of the plot makes WITHER the perfect quick read!

18 July 2011

Mischief Managed!

A huge piece of my childhood ended in the wee hours of Friday morning, when I finished watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in theaters.  I'm sad to see it end, but at least I feel that it ended right.  I don't care how cheesy it sounds; the Harry Potter series was a huge part of my life growing up and made a huge impact in many ways.  There are plenty of experiences that I can honestly say I wouldn't have had if it weren't for Harry Potter.

Like any truly obsessed Harry Potter fan, I wrote fanfiction.  I'll bite, here's the link.  My fanfiction-writing phase didn't last too long, but I got quite a bit written during my stint.  I was sort of pulled into this by my high school friends, who stuck it out way longer than I did.

Around the time I was 13 (so, beginning of high school-ish), I came across and subsequently joined d69.  If you were obsessed with Mugglenet.com as I was at that point, you might remember a bunch of people who posted comments with (d69) after their name.  I was one of them...not quite an original member, but I joined pretty early on.  Down the road, I ended up as a moderator of the d69 forums and then an editor of the d69 website.  This was still going strong up until around the time the Deathly Hallows book got released.  But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I also had a rather lovely Harry Potter theories website...well, actually three of them, for some reason- either I kept forgetting passwords, or usernames, or whatever.  This was truly where my Harry Potter obsession lay.  Theories, theories, theories!  (And using my oh-so-impressive HTML that I learned in freshman year of high school advanced computers ;-) )  I don't remember exactly when I stopped with the website (around the time of the release of book 6, I think), but it lasted long enough......

that when Amazon announced a contest to find the biggest Harry Potter fans to act as "kid correspondents" before the release of Half-Blood Prince, I made sure to enter!  And, I won!  This was really the 'opportunity' I was talking about.  I was not only interviewed for newspapers both locally and out-of-state, but I even was able to travel to New York City to visit Scholastic and be interviewed for NBC!  Even now, six years later, I think of this as one of the best things that happened to me- and all because of Harry Potter!  In my audition tape for the Amazon contest, I talked a lot about my work with d69 as well as my own theories website, and that's really what got focused on after I won the contest.  Everything tied together in the end... middle.

So, yes, I'm going to be a bit nostalgic now that the Harry Potter era is really coming to a close.  For me, it extended far beyond just some books and movies.  Through my websites, I met a huge range of awesome people.  Though we don't all stay in contact regularly anymore, every once in a while someone will pop by the d69 forums to just say hi...  And of course, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I had as a member of the Amazon Kid Correspondents panel is something I'll never forget.  (My Gryffindor robe that I've worn to the last few movie releases?  It was a gift from Scholastic after my interview.)  So while it's time now to say adieu to Harry, the one thing that will never leave is everything that this magnificent series has brought to my life.  Thanks.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...