Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Publication Date: 22 March 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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
I was worried when I picked this one up. There was so much hype about it and I'd heard so many good things...and a pretty large handful of bad things.
But this book didn't let me down. No matter what anyone else says, I loved this book.
Wither's opening scene pulled me right in a Rhine described being in the van, not knowing up from down, then being unloaded, chosen, and herded into a limo while the other girls are killed. It was the kind of opening that kept me turning the page. As the story unfolds, I found myself diving right into this future world and getting lost in its complications and twists and turns. Why did someone kill Rhine's parents? If they cured cancer, why can't they stop this life-ending disease? I hated Housemaster Vaughn so much, but I still wanted him to find the darn cure!
Rhine was a great character for me. So many YA novels that I've read lately have had these clumsy, oblivious female leads and while I've still enjoyed some of those novels, I have craved strong females who try to get something done (hence, my love for Gaia in Birthmarked and Katniss in the Hunger Games). Rhine falls into this category of strong female. She knows what she wants (to escape and find her brother) and what she'll need to do to get it (deceive her husband to win favor). I loved that she sometimes forgot that she was "pretending" to be in love with Linden because that sort of questioning of her feelings made her more human.
Linden was a character that struck such conflict in me while I was reading. I wanted to hate him--I really, really did. However, as his oblivion is slowly revealed bit-by-bit (and you realize that everything is Vaughn running the show), I couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. He was no less a pawn in his father's game than the girls. There were definitely points in the book where I was rooting for him to steal Rhine's heart and I would catch myself and be like "What about Gabriel?!"
There were some things about this story that were difficult to believe. For one, the emphasis on procreation (especially by the young men_ when there doesn't seem to be any kind of push/brainwashing by the "first generations" to convince the younger generations. If this type of emphasis was being pushed, then these girls would ALL be like Cecily with her desire for a husband and children...but they aren't. Also, killing teenage girls when they are apparently vital to the next generation? Especially ordered dead by a man desperate for the cure?
Despite any minor qualms I may have had with this book, my opinion remains: I loved this book and I cannot wait for the next one. (When does it come out?! What is it called?! I want to know so bad!)