Genre: YA dystopia
Pages: 356 (hardcover)
To Be Published: March 22nd, 2011
Recommended for: older teens and adults who like edgy dystopia novels
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.
I was so excited to find Wither in the mail. I'm talking night-before-Christmas excited. Like a lot of readers, I've long been in love with that beautiful, intriguing cover, which I just adore. And the gritty, enthralling story behind that cover far from disappoints.
The concept of Wither sounds similar to a lot of YA dystopia novels I've read or seen lately, but trust me when I say that this book stands out among the masses like a lighthouse beacon above the waves. Our heroine Rhine has lived her entire life in a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, years after a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the young generations of North American people (the rest of the world has been obliterated) to die prematurely and horribly of a terrible sickness soon after reaching adulthood. Rhine is only sixteen, but has only four years to live. The story begins in the midst of action, as Rhine is kidnapped along with other young girls and taken from New York to the deep South, where she and two other girls are chosen to become the new wives of a wealthy young governor in a luxurious mansion. Her new husband Linden is mild and distant, and now at all the chauvinistic villain you would expect the husband of three unwilling sister wives to be like.
All of the characters, save Rhine, make their entrances as distant and somewhat flat names and characters, but as the story continued I grew to love every single one of them. Character development is the gem at the heart of Wither, the aspect of the novel which made me love it. I especially loved reading about the three sister wives and their dynamic relationships, their pasts and their fears for their very uncertain futures. The science isn't the strongest I've read in a dystopia novel, but the science behind the drastically shortened lifespans of these generations isn't at all the main focus of the story. The book is often sad, just shy of somewhat depressing, and always a gritty tale of bleak futures, terrible secrets, and love found in the most unlikely places. And yet somehow, I found it to be a message of hope more than anything. I'm not sure exactly what makes Wither so. Perhaps the lyrical writing and the lingering feelings of the deep friendships and love among the characters, perhaps the remarkable strength of Rhine and several of her sister wives quite literally in the face of death and ruin. I'm happy to report that this one lives up to expectations and, in fact, surpasses them. Definitely recommended.
Plot: 5/5Overall Rating: 5/5