Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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 limited time she has left.
If WITHER was a person, I think I would marry it. With its beautiful cover and its very creative world, I wouldn't care less what others thought about it because I'm obsessed with it! Man it was just so very . . . AWESOME and UNIQUE! I admit, when I first heard about the book and what it entailed, I thought it wasn't my kind of read . . . what with a boy with a lot of wives that were treated like cattle. That alone didn't appeal to me. But after reading the first chapter and then many chapters after that, it was highly addictive and I wanted more! While there's no words to describe what WITHER is actually like, I can definitely say if you turn away from this book right now, you'll deeply regret it!
In WITHER, a sixteen-year-old girl named Rhine lives in a world where the 'virus' spreads and kills youth. Males are expected to live until they're 25 while the females only live until they turn 20. With illness killing so many, the remaining population of males must marry so many young teenage brides (random girls who are kidnapped) and those brides must carry their children, even though the parents of such children will die anyway. This is a screwed up world I tell you . . . but such a great one too. The story of WITHER was told like a Victorian novel and that's exactly the vibe I got from it. It would've made such a GREAT Victorian novel, but I do love my dystopian worlds . . . even the screwed up ones. Anyway, with scientists working on a 'cure', it's still a long way to go before they actually find one which doesn't help Rhine's case.
Now let's talk about lovely Rhine. Rhine was a such an awesome character! She was kidnapped and torn away from the only person she truly cared about - her twin brother, mind you - and then she basically got presented like breeding stock where only the best of three girls are chosen to be brides while the others are disposed of like garbage. Despite this awful thing that happened to her, she didn't kick and scream - no. Throughout the novel she remained strong, true to herself, and mostly, she stayed determined. Unlike the other girl brides you meet in WITHER, Rhine was the smart one. The moment she sees her surroundings, Rhine already forms a plan to escape, how to be the good wife, and how she'll win the heart of her new husband. But she knows it'll take time, but Rhine is the girl to never give up. And I love that about her!
There are many other character you'll meet in WITHER. First you have Linden, the boy manipulated by his scientist-of-a-father to become the husband of many wives. Readers will probably hate Linden and what he's doing to these girls . . . but as you begin to learn more about his character and how his father uses him . . . you will sympathize for him. Deep down, he's actually a nice guy full of his own emotions and affections. Even if his actions are still wrong but that's because he's still young at heart, vulnerable, and frail in some respects. But then you have Cecily. What's even more disturbing than the situation itself is that Cecily is only thirteen and yet she's married, and expected to carry Linden's baby. *shivers* That's just not right. For me, Cecily was a very hard character to like because she's immature, naive, pushy, demanding, and horribly craving for Linden's attention. But then you have to remind yourself that's she's still a child who is now living in a grow up world . . . still I didn't like her. Then there's my favourite Gabriel, the servant boy of Linden's household. Awwwww I love this guy! The whole relationship that blossomed between the servant boy and the prisoner wife thing was so beautiful and so innocently developed. With everything crazy going on in WITHER, I was glad to see something real and honest come through in a relationship and that's what you get between Gabriel and Rhine.
Overall, with dystopain worlds full of explosives, rebellions, and big adventures that you wouldn't think were possible, WITHER deals with its dystopian world in a quiet, subtle way that shines all by itself! It's a novel that get's you thinking, it's a novel that you would want to read again and again, and it's a novel that could survive as a standalone . . . but I don't want that because I demand its sequel RIGHT NOW! Lauren DeStefano is such a brilliant debut author and I'm pleased her book is something a little different. Hot damn! The year of 2011 has rocked the book boat so far!