Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: March 22nd 2011
Pages: 358 (Paperback)
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking 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 kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. 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 is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?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 started this yesterday, yet I've already finished? This is DeStefano's debut novel, yet it was so descriptive and addictive that I'm sure she must have written plenty before. I've had my eye on this trilogy for a while, because the initial plot from the synopsis seemed amazing - and that wasn't an over-exaggeration. This novel was so insanely good, I definitely have a book hangover!
This novel follows three orphans - mostly concentrating on main character, Rhine - who get hauled into a van and are taken away to become brides of a rich architect, Linden, because his current wife is dying. But here comes the twist - this takes place in a dystopian future, where men die at the age of 25, and women die at the age of 20.
I loved the background story. I'm a big fan of dystopian novels, but a lot of them circulate around a kind of 'society' who make all the rules. But in Wither, the future is more realistic, with sea levels rising and overtaking land, and the human race dying out and struggling for survival. Considering the news nowadays is full of global warming and sea levels rising and poverty, the mention in the novel opens an opportunity for the reader to be able to relate to the characters, and become more absorbed in the story. I also loved the initial plot for this first installment; I was on a constant cliff-hanger, wondering if Rhine would run, whether Gabriel was okay, whether Linden would try anything, who would die - and much more. But it wasn't an irritating kind of cliffhanger - it was interesting, and it made it un-put-downable.
I also adored all of the characters - even whining Cecily (though not the Housemaster, perhaps). At the beginning, I thought I would be on just one person's side - but after finishing, I can see that they each had so many different attributes to their stories, and so you can actually feel compassionate towards a lot of them for many different reasons. I was able to relate to quite a few of them, but for more subtle reasons than their position with Linden - but that was still enough.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, and I'm so so glad I got gifted it. I really want to get my hands on the sequel, Fever, and I can't wait for the release of the last installment, Sever. If you love dystopian novels, you must read this.