“What if you knew exactly when you would die?
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.” — Description from GoodReads
This is one of the 2011 debut novels that I was *most* excited about. As you know, I am a sucker for any dystopian novel. But one where the world isn’t ending…just the human race? That was intriguing to me. And where the government wasn’t responsible for the oppression of citizens, but wealthy men and starving children were the terrorizers? Even better.
From the beginning, Wither by Lauren DeStefano sucks you into this crazy world. You are immediately with Rhine as she is kidnapped. She doesn’t know what will happen to her: if she’ll be killed, sold into prostitution or sold to become a bride.
Yes, that’s right — a bride. The prison where Rhine is sent is a vast mansion filled with virtual wonders. Anything you could wish for — including an extensive library — is at her fingertips. Her sentence? Marriage to Linden (along with two other girls) until she dies. A sentence that won’t last longer than four more years. But the warden, Linden’s father, terrifies her more than anything.
This story was so compelling to me because it was all about Rhine’s own personal sense of freedom. Yes, she could have anything in the world. But what she most wants is freedom. Even though she knows she will die in four years, she fights to be able to live those last four years in her own way.
I think that many weaker people (probably myself included) would have just embraced Rhine’s situation, and made the best of it by accepting the role of First Wife. But Rhine refuses to do that.
Linden is an idealist, and I think that Rhine could have been content to stay there. But she would have never been happy. And his father was just pure evil. That man gave me the creeps. I don’t even want to imagine what he was doing in the basement. ::shudder::
The other two sister wives were a great contrast to Rhine, and made it easier to understand *why* she chose to fight her situation. At first, I wondered why she didn’t just enjoy herself. I mean, the world was awful. She had a good thing going with Linden. But she was so resistant. And now, I can see why.
Rhine’s relationship with Gabriel was just a side-story to me. And I liked that it wasn’t the main reason she wanted to leave. That was so refreshing. So often, heroines in YA novels are driven only by love and romance. But Rhine was driven by something more: her own sense of self-worth. And that’s something that many young women can learn a lot from.
I cannot wait to find out what happens next in this series.
**Disclaimer** An Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher, Simon & Schuster. It did not affect my review in any way.