Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano
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 limted time she has left.
Wither was an enchanting and engrossing novel that kept me up way past my bed time. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or do anything without thinking about Wither. It chilled yet thrilled me! I have read many dystopian novels in the past year, but Wither has to be one of my favorites among them. From the moment that I started reading until the second I finished, I was Rhine and I was experiencing all the horrors that she ahd to go through.
Rhine is a corageous and unflinching girl who has had her fair share of bad experiences in life. Her parents are dead and it is just her an her twin brother, Rowan. They help each other survive and get through the hard times. When Rhine is tricked and captured by the Gatherers, she worries what her brother will do without her. Will he think her dead? How can he possibly find her? She is bought by Vaughn, Linden’s creepy and terrifying father and forced into a marriage with Linden, along with two other girls. Rhine will do whatever she can to escape her confinement, even act sweet in order to become Linden’s favorite and have access to the outside world. Rhine comes to appreciate her sister wives, even though they have their share of quirks.
DeStefano doesn’t skimp on the characterization of Rhine’s sister wives. They each have their own personalities. I was especially annoyed by Cecily. She is from an orphanage and Linden’s mansion is paradise to her. She loves being pampered and acting as Linden’s wife. She did some pretty awful things in the novel, but I can sort of understand why she did them. She is very young and doesn’t understand the world like Jenna and Rhine do. Rhine grows sympathetic for her, even though she acts spoiled and pampered. However, she makes one huge mistake that makes Rhine furious and it is unforgivable. Jenna is the oldest sister wife and has gone through as much horror as Rhine has. She and Rhine find an understanding with each other and grow to become friends.
Gabriel is the servant boy that Rhine finds herself falling for. He is so sweet and understanding and they come to bond with one another. Rhine reveals things to him that she would never reveal to one another. She lets him in on her secrets and she knows that he is one of the few people that she can trust in her life. Linden is Rhine’s sad and pathetic husband. He doesn’t understand much about the world and is easily manipulated by his awful father. You can tell that he truly loves his wives but he is so naive.
DeStefano weaves a fantastically horrifying story that gave me chills. The world that Rhine lives in awful yet she somehow manages to make it through. I could sympathize all that Rhine went through and I pray that the world never comes to what the world in Wither is. Wither enchanted me and kept me awake well into the hours of the night. Wither ends on the perfect note and left me drooling for more of Rhine’s story. This is a fantastic debut and I can’t wait for more from Lauren DeStefano.