Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: March 22, 2011
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Rating: 5 stars
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“Fate, I think, is a thief.”
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither
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? (Goodreads)
I was pleasantly surprised by Wither. I loved every single page! It was so haunting and beautifully written. And this book covered a surprising amount of time. I was a little tentative when I saw mixed reviews, but maybe that's because of the sensitive topics of polygamy and younger brides. I would call this a Mormon dystopia. But I think these uncomfortable elements made the story even darker and more potent, and this dystopian world more realistic. The vulnerability and sad, short lives of the women really added to the world building and made the reader sympathize more with the characters.
The characters in Wither were fantastic and well-developed! Loved them so much! Every one of them offered something to the story, but I think the sister wives and their love for each other really made the story. They leaned on each other, they supported each other, and they each became more of a sister wife than they were a wife to Linden. I grew to adore each of the women, even Cecily. It really hurt me to watch such a young girl grow up way before she needed to.
While I really wanted to despise Linden, I felt sorry for him. He was an idiot and completely clueless, but he loved his wives, no matter how weird it is that he had three of them. He was just so pathetic. I couldn't help pitying him. Although I did feel nauseous about his relationship with Cecily. It was like Lolita all over again. I mean at least he's 21? I think 21. But she's 13. That messed with my head.
I loved the mansion with its sitting room and library, with its endless gardens that still imprisoned the wives, and all of the holograms in the pool and the mini golf course with the giant gumdrops. It had so many eccentricities. I loved the domestics, and every little detail, like the chamomile baths and the mugs of Earl Grey tea and the June Bean candies. I especially loved the stories about all the other fallen continents. My only complaint was that David was kind of a flat character. I don't think his romance with Rhine was developed enough. I liked him, but I wasn't crazy about him. I needed more scenes between them, but I understand that's difficult when Rhine is being constantly watched and her freedom is restricted.
I loved Wither so much! I'll be reading its sequel Fever soon!