At age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years to live. Thanks to a botched effort to create a perfect race, all females live to be twenty, and males live to age twenty-five. While geneticists seek a miracle antidote, orphans roam the streets and polygamy abounds. After Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she is desperate to escape from her husband’s strange world, which includes a sinister father-in-law in search of the antidote and a slew of sister wives who are not to be trusted. On the cusp of her seventeenth birthday, Rhine attempts to flee—but what she finds is a society spiraling into anarchy.
Wither was my last book of 2010, and in all honesty, it was the perfect way to end the year book wise, because not only does Lauren DeStefano introduce a fascinating and creative world in this, but the execution of the premise is simply brilliant.
Several generations prior to Rhine's everything and everyone was cured. There was no more cancer, no more diseases- it truly was the perfect world. Though, with every generation after the life spans have been altered dramatically. Boys live to age twenty five and girls only to age twenty. In times like this everything has changed. Girls are captured and sold into mostly loveless, polygamous marriages were only the strongest can survive, and the whole population is torn between finding an antidote and saving the world or letting everything be and letting the human race slowly die out because of it. Rhine's life is affected by this of course. Her parents are dead thanks to a bombing, and when she lest expects it she's sold into a marriage with two sister wives and a husband she can't love. Then she meets Gabriel, a guy who she likes and gives her promise of escape. But can she and Gabriel fight this harsh world and escape? Or will her life slowly become something she never wanted it to become? Only time will tell in this deeply engrossing tale of one girl's fight against fate in a brand new dystopian world.
One of the strongest and most fascinating parts of Wither were the characters, particularly the relationship between Rhine and her sister wives, but before we get to that let me tell you a little more about Rhine.
Rhine is a girl who has always dealt with heartbreak time and time again, and because of it has grown stronger than every imagined. She's a girl who when her cards are dealt to her does everything in her ability to make it better. She's brave, fearless, and alert, a girl who I can only hope would be on my side if she was real. And with this, she has some pretty interesting relationships within the pages of Wither. One is between her and her sister wives- the beautiful but doormat Jenna and the pompous, full-of-herself Cecily. Both girls play big roles in the story, ones that would have made Wither suffer without. I always found it interesting to see how these three girls all reacted (and different ways alas) to their kidnapping and polygamous marriage. Cecily gave into it, hoping that she would be able to get the childhood she never had, while Rhine was the fighter and Jenna was the girl who while could have changed everything, instead sat back for her own reasons. And most interesting of all, through the course of the novel all three managed to have quite the friendship, one I don't think I would have ever been able to have if I was in their places.
Adding to this, I liked how Lauren started things off between Rhine and Gabriel, and while I wish there was more moments between them, I know there will be plenty in the follow-ups. And while Linden, the husband in the situation, was meant to bad, he was someone I liked to a point because he truly was just a toy in the whole game, controlled by something he could never have seen. I also liked how Rhine constatly looked back to her brother and her times together becasue it truly showed how much Rhine had changed from that point to now.
Adding to this, I loved seeing how Lauren DeStefano worked her magic using her writing with the plot. The plot of this was truly something that when tied together with her writing made this book be one you could just not put down, not even for a second. And the conclusion? Great, something that makes me eager to find out more about the characters and their world in the sequels.
And best of all, this novel raises a lot of thought-provoking questions and thoughts. Such as, what would you, the reader, do in Rhine's place? Would you submit to the life you've been forced to life, or fight for a way out, even if it meant death? Would you be able to like your sister wives? Would you even want to?
In all, Wither is one book I highly suggest you pick up come its release. It's a powerful read, one that I'm sure many will love with all their hearts, even if it means waiting so long for future additions.
Wither will be released March 22, 2011.
Source: 1st copy won in Cindy Pon's contest. 2nd copy sent by publisher for review.