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November 8, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

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?

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?
Ever since I first saw the cover of Wither, I knew I had to read it. The image is gorgeous in a very distinct way, and to my delight, I found that the story is much the same. Though a dystopian, this book contains sophistication yet simplicity unlike anything I have read before.

Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is living in a world much different from the modern one we know of. Through genetic mutations, lifespans have been reduced to 25 years for men and 20 for women. In order to keep the human race alive, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages. Because of this, Rhine is separated from her twin brother Rowan and brought to the mansion of Linden Ashby, where she and two other girls become sister wives. Something sinister is going on the basement of this mansion, however, and Rhine soon becomes entangled in the search to find a path back to her brother and her freedom.

Where do I begin? Right from the start, it is evident that Rhine is not like many other girls her age. She's had to face indescribable suffering, pain, and loss, yet she manages to hold herself together surprisingly well. There's a fire in Rhine, one that drives her spirit and independence, and I think that is what attracts Linden to her. Speaking of Linden, let's talk about him for a few moments--though kindhearted, he's as much of a victim as Rhine is. He's kept in the dark by his father, Housemaster Vaughn, the real persona behind everything that goes on in the mansion. In stark contrast is Gabriel, a servant who despite his low status, is actually quite educated and literate. Naturally, he becomes Rhine's love interest. Also present in much of the story are Jenna and Cecily, Rhine's sister wives. Jenna, 19, is very much aloof and despises her captivity, while Cecily, 13, very much enjoys being married to Linden. I loved that even though the three girls were complete strangers to each other, over time they began to bond due to the circumstances.

Character development in Wither was incredible. Although the romance was secondary, I enjoyed the few tidbits of it here and there. Though the plot was somewhat predictable, the general idea for the story was so well thought out and well executed. Lauren DeStefano's writing style is like a breath of fresh air. The attention to detail and the smallest scenes were what made this book so unbelievable brilliant. There were parts that made me giggle like mad, and others that shattered my heart. I'm so excited for Fever--can't wait to see what the future holds for Rhine and the rest of the characters.

Rating: 4.5/5

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