Author: Lauren DeStefano
Genre: Dystopian YA/Romance
Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Summary: When scientists engineered genetically perfect children, everyone thought it would ensure the future of the human race. Though the first generation is nearly immortal, a virus causes all successive generations to die early: age 20 for women, 25 for men. Now, girls are kidnapped for brothels or polygamous marriages to breed children. Rhine is taken from her hardscrabble life and sold with two other girls to Linden Ashby. Though they live in a palatial Florida home surrounded by gardens and treated like royalty, the girls are sequestered from the outside world, and Rhine longs to escape. Her growing affection for her sister wives, her pity for Linden, and her fear of Housemaster Vaughn, Linden's manipulative father, keep her uncomfortably docile, until she falls for servant Gabriel. 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; however, the world building is underdeveloped, with holes in internal logic. Buy it here!
Review: I'm not going to lie; the whole reason why I picked up Wither for the first time is because of the gorgeous cover. I'm a sucker for beautiful covers and the plot sounded promising. However, I feel extremely conflicted about this book, mostly because of the characters. The main character, a sixteen year old girl named Rhine, has been kidnapped and brought to a lavish mansion with two other girls to be married to a 21-year-old man named Linden in order to conceive children in hopes of ending an essential plague that kills all young adults (women at 20 and men at 25). Rhine is angry about this (who can blame her) and plots to escape with the help of a servant named Gabriel who shows her kindness and the two eventually and kind of fall in love. Sounds great, right? Well, it's much more complicated.
Linden was my favorite character. It sucks that his father was the number one villain in the story, but all in all, I thought Linden was a good guy. He cared for each of his wives, with Rhine being his favorite for reasons I cannot reveal. If the series of novels is supposed to have a love triangle between Rhine, Gabriel, and Linden, I'm Team Linden just because I feel like Gabriel was not very well developed as a character. I'm an eternal feminist, but the novel explains what happens to girls usually in this world and I think Rhine should consider herself very lucky instead of whining the whole time like she did.
With that said, I feel extremely conflicted about this novel. Yes, I found some things wrong with it, but I could not put it down and I will definitely pick up the sequel Fever in February. What are your thoughts?
Rating: 3.5 stars