Wither by Lauren DeStefano

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?

I’m not going to pull any punches here, so I’m giving you fair warning. This will be a gushing review. I’m sorry. I had been wanting this book since I first noticed it in stores. I was captivated by the description and the sample pages that were offered to preview. I knew it was a book that I was going to love before I even started it. Yet, for some unknown reason, I kept putting it off. I’m not sure why, but once I finally started it, I couldn’t put it down. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I love it when that happens. *sigh*

Sometimes Dystopian novels take me a while to get into. I have to literally wrap my mind around the world the author creates, get acclimated to it and adjust. I never felt that way while reading Wither. It wasn’t because the world that Lauren DeStefano created wasn’t totally foreign. The world that Rhine has grown up in is a very scary place and just continues to get scarier.

A world without cancer and other fatal diseases seems Utopic, That is until you think about the possible consequences. What would be more horrific than a society that was free of most fatal diseases but with a 2 decade life span? It’s that fear and desperation that make the lengths that rich families like Linden’s go to seem almost justified. Almost. It is that fear and desperation that makes this such a compelling story though.

There was so much that I loved about this book, I hardly know where to start. I loved Rhine’s strength and compassion. I was heart broken by Linden and his situation. I really wanted to hate him, but just like Rhine, I couldn’t bring myself to. I loved the relationship that Rhine had with Rose and the loyalty she felt toward her sister wives. The relationship that blossomed between Gabriel and Rhine was so sweet even though it was impossible and forbidden. It was even easy to feel Rhine’s compassion and feelings for Linden. There wasn’t a character in this story that wasn’t trapped by the situation that they were in, except maybe Linden’s father. He was one character it was easy to hate.

Okay, I know that I’m rambling, but I tend to do that when I find a book that I liked as much as Wither. Just trust me when I say it’s a book that you should read. It’s heartbreaking and scary, but it makes you think and feel and isn’t that the best kind of book. Fever has just been released and I read the first chapter after I finished Wither. I’m guessing I’m not going to be waiting quite as long to read it. However, since the last book in the trilogy isn’t expected to be released for a while, I may hold off just a little longer. That way I’ll have a justifiable excuse to read Wither again – like I ever really needed an excuse to re-read a favorite. :)