Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
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 limited time she has left.
I was hooked from the very beginning. The modern science mentioned in the summary is basically vaccines and cures to various diseases, including cancer. I never paid much attention to medicine and vaccines before I had my son, but I've since become aware of much of the controversy surrounding them. That made the premise of the book very interesting to me. It explores the somewhat extreme idea that "cures" are not always a good thing.
And then there's the polygamy. Well, I know a lot about polygamy because of my religious background. Ones of the reasons the early LDS people practiced polygamy was to build up their population, which is exactly what is happening in the world of Wither.
I loved the characters. Rhine is a strong lead. Her relationship with her husband, sister wives and her attendant are all complex. I still can't get over how well written the characters are for her husband and sister wives. They are all a part of this crazy world, so in reality the reader shouldn't like them, but we do. They are victims just as much as Rhine is. Linden's father is very creepy, which makes me wonder what's hiding under the surface to show up in the next books.
Honestly, Wither and Matched are the only dystopias lately I have read where I am left wanting more, happy more is coming. You won't read me complaining about trilogies in this review, thank goodness. On a superficial note, I think Wither and Matched are also my favorite covers I've seen recently, but in different ways. Wither is simply beautiful, and I love the graphics of Matched.