Summary from BN.com: 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?
I had been hearing good things about Wither before I even received this book. The cover is really pretty (though am I the only one who thinks the cover model looks like Mandy Moore?) and draws you into the story. I totally got sucked in while reading. The characters are what really makes this book stand out. While the overall plot is fascinating, if the characters didn't come alive to me then the book would have been meh to me. As it stands however, DeStefano makes Rhine, Gabriel, Jenna, Cecily and Linden all become real to me.
Rhine's character is very conflicted throughout the book yet she is a likable character. I don't know what I would have done in her situation. I can't even fathom knowing that I would be dead in a few years. What makes her different from the other wives is that she knows what the real world is like and she knows what having a real family is like. Therefore unlike everyone else, she has hope and she is doing all she can to live for that hope.
Jenna's character is devastatingly tragic for me. I really wish we could have known more about her. When we're introduced to her, it's almost like she's already doomed from the start. She's quietest of the three wives and the one that keeps to herself the most. She loves reading which made me relate to her the most. Since she pretty much knows her fate already, she just takes each day one at a time. Also as the oldest, she seems to be the wisest of the group. This is drastically different from Cecily, who at the youngest, seems to be the most flighty and immature. Yet it is her who has the biggest influence on Linden's father due to her circumstances. It's quite sad to read about what she has to go through afterward and how she is kept from what she loves most. The thing that got me is that Linden is not a bad guy. I was so ready for him to be like his father and for me to hate him, but he wasn't and I didn't. I felt immensely sorry for him throughout most of the book. His father on the other hand, oooh it's almost like reading about Umbridge all over again. Still when you know WHY he's doing it, it makes sense though his obsession with finding a cure makes his character seem unloving towards his current son.
Overall, Wither is an absolutely fascinating read. The world that DeStefano has created seems to be a bleak and hopeless world for the young. However for characters such as Rhine and Gabriel, there is resistance and a fighting chance for survival. I cannot wait for the next book in the series though since this is a trilogy, I bet the 2nd book will have an even worse cliffhanger. Even if you don't like other dystopia book, I really think you should try this one. It's an engrossing read and will keep you glued to your seat as you frantically turn pages. HIGHLY recommended.
Wither by Lauren DeStefano is published by Simon and Schuster Children (2011)
This ARC was provided by the publisher