Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Wonderful storytelling and prose and great world building. A fat shiny five.
Publisher’s Description: By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years–leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek 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 sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet 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 has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.
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?
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Kat Mandu says…
Rhine only has four years to live. Thanks to tinkering with genetics, in Rhine’s horrifying world, girls only live to twenty and boys only live to twenty-five. In this richly invented dystopian where young girls are kidnapped, sold to polygamous families, or killed, Rhine must overcome a series of obstacles to reconnect with her twin brother before her time is up.
She’s been kidnapped by a wealthy family – a man with a young son who’s seen more heartache than he should. Rhine is one of my favorite narrators. I enjoy characters who are kind of 50-50 about everything. It’s very human and real. On the one hand, Rhine is safe in a world where she is pampered and treated like a rich girl, a place where she can begin to trust her sister wives, who are just as trapped as she is; and with a man, Linden, who is genuinely interested in making her his wife. And yet she craves to be back with her twin brother, in her familiar city, and back to a routine life, despite its darkness. She has so many different opinions based on the things she learns and like so many other characters who can make up their mind instantly about what they need to do, Rhine is impulsive. But she’s also emotionally connected to everything and sometimes can’t make up her mind about what she wants to do. Because she sincerely knows her sisters care for her and Linden too. And that hesitancy is what makes her special.
Poor Linden. Poor guy just wants somebody to love in his last years. He is another multi-faceted character I enjoy reading about and almost feel sorry for. So protected in his house and yet buried under his father’s lies. I am eager to discover his opinions on Rhine’s final decision.
I loved, loved, loved Rose. She was probably my second favorite character. I adored her and her June Beans and delicate way of looking at her life and how she wants to end it. I liked that she helped Rhine deal with her presence in the mansion. Jenna and Cecily were polar opposites, one morose and one chipper. I like the tension between Cecily and Rhine, how naive Cecily is and how innocent she seems even when she’s trying to act like an adult. I love how Jenna stays calm and cool throughout the story, never giving into Linden unless it’s to keep the hate at bay by sleeping with him. These are great characters readers get attached to.
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