Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: March 22, 2011
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Source: Galley Grab
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
Rhine is sixteen years old. In our world, it's the time of your life, made of sweet-sixteens and parties. In Rhine's world though, she's nearing the end of her life, and she only has four years left. Bought into an unwilling polygamous marriage, Rhine is fueled by the hope of escaping to her twin brother. But in this unfamiliar world of holograms, medicine and counted days, Rhine has found sisters in her sister wives, and it's getting harder and harder to escape. Can she escape in time, and will she find Rowan? And what happens to her husband, Linden, who genuinely cares for her, and what will become of Gabriel, the attendant she's come to care for?
Wither is most definitely a unique take on dystopian YA fiction. Lauren DeStefano has merged a strong protagonist, a bitter and crippled world and a fierce cast of characters into a powerful story of what happens when society tries and fails to play the hand of the Creator. DeStefano has a knack for descriptions, both beautiful and painful, making Wither into a story that's exhilarating, thrilling, heart-wrenching and strangely beautiful.
I'm a little bit torn on Wither overall though. Wither presents a great protagonist in Rhine. She has a clear, refreshing voice and a definite goal. I really loved her resolve. I also loved Jenna, the oldest of the three sister wives and, despite my resistance, I found myself really feeling for Cecily (a 13-year-old bride) and Linden, as well. I'm a little lost on Gabriel, Rhine's love interest though. I felt his character was a bit flat and one-sided. All I ever saw was the love interest. I never felt any depth. I also struggled with the world-building aspects at times. I get that one generation was perfect and lived a full lifespan, but I want to know what made the change in the next generations that started this epidemic of youth deaths. So, I felt the characters drove the novel, while the plot and world lagged at times.
Overall, Wither is a very strong and unique debut, and I'll definitely want to read the sequel, despite my reservations and lingering questions from Wither. I believe the positives outweighed the negatives in the end. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy dystopian fiction.
I received this eARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.