I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Also by this author: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
Series: Wither #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2011-03-22
Genres: Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Science Fiction, Social Issues, Young Adult
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What if you knew exactly when you’d die? The first book of The Chemical Garden Trilogy.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 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 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?
I apparently enjoy reading about polygamy. Who’d’ve thunk it? Wither by debut author Lauren DeStefano is chock full of the polygamies and other fun things too. In DeStefano’s dystopia, cancer and several other illnesses have been eradicated. However, instead of the people turning into those I Am Legend monsters, they die young. Girls live to 20, boys live to 25. A cure has not been found for the virus that kills off youth. Due to the lifespan being drastically changed, society changes dramatically in return. Rhine, a 16 year old girl is snatched by opportunists called Gatherers to be one of House Governor Linden’s multiple brides. Will Rhine ever taste freedom again?
Wither by Lauren DeStefano is characterized by lush writing. The Florida manor which Rhine is basically held hostage feels languid. Really, it does. I mean, I can perfectly picture Linden and his three brides chilling by the pool on a hazy summer day. DeStefano’s world building is excellent and I felt a strong sense of the dystopia. I never felt lost or confused while reading. The world of holograms and child brides came through crystal clear. I am very impressed with the writing, it wasn’t slapdash insert characters in dystopia blender and see what happens.
In a society as harsh towards females as the one in Wither I felt very invested in the characters. I know sometimes it is hard to care for someone when you know they will inevitably die, as it’s clearly stated females die at 20. Despite all of the death in the air, I felt a strong sense of the three wives. I never disliked any of them either, which I thought would happen what with the whole other woman thing. If I had to sum up the sister brides with one phrase each I would say there is Jenna with her mysterious and tragic past, Cicely who is an orphan delighted with the situation and always trying to grow up too fast, and there is Rhine, our main character who wants freedom so badly. Rhine is different from her sister-wives because she knows of the outside world and had a relatively trauma-free life before being kidnapped. I enjoyed how these three girls bonded and formed attachments. In particular, I enjoyed Jenna and Rhine’s friendship.
I inhaled Wither by Lauren DeStefano. I think that if you have a passing interest in polygamy wife dynamics, dystopia, and diseases, you should check out this book. It’s well-written, full of excellent characterization, plus a different type of dystopia. At least, different from what I am used to.