Release Date: 22 Mar 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Summary: 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.
Review: On their own, Rhine and her twin brother must take any chance at making money that they can. Rhine, however, faces the very real threat of the Gatherers, men who kidnap teen girls to sell to rich young men as wives. The Gatherers exist because science and genetic perfection have brought disastrous consequences, men dying at twenty-five and woman dying at twenty. Rhine finds herself taken by the Gatherers and sold along with two other sister wives to Linden. Her fate is marriage to a man she hates and her sole purpose in life is now producing children and entertaining Linden. As terrible as that is, the women who weren't selected as wives faced a much worse fate, being shot to death and then discarded like trash. Rhine cannot accept her new life even if Linden treats her well and seems to love her. She needs to escape, she needs to return to her brother.
Rhine was a wonderfully unique narrator. Her voice was very odd but after a little adjusting, I loved it. It did slow down my reading, however, not that I minded. The way Rhine thought and spoke was just so distinctive, it's one of the things that really stuck out to me while I read the book. When so many YA books are replicas of others, a fresh voice is something to truly appreciate.
It's been a while since a book totally wrecked havoc on my emotions. One moment I was loathing someone or something then a few paragraphs later I was suddenly questioning what I'd previously felt. It was like a tilt-a-whirl ride, I never knew how I felt or what was going to happen and even when the ride ended, I was still experiencing the emotional confusion. Good confusion though. I loved that DeStefano was able to draw those emotions and reactions from me. Usually I'm set in my opinions and feelings about characters at at least the halfway point of the book but while reading Wither, I was constantly adapting and changing my perceptions.
Wither was so much more creepy than I'd expected. It was creepy as hell at certain points. I enjoyed the creepiness but there were a few things that I honestly found just a little too disturbing for my tastes (mainly the young pregnancy/polygamy, so just personal preference aspects not anything gore/violent/etc related). I did think that everything worked very nicely with the dystopian world created though. That said, I wouldn't recommend Wither as a starting place for people looking to try dystopian. I think it's a wonderful representation of the genre and a fantastic book but for readers unaccustomed to the genre, I think they might not enjoy Wither as much.
Wither isn't just about the story and Rhine's struggle to be set free. It's about relationships and that little gray area between right and wrong. Wither draws you so far into the book that you'll be left feeling the aftershock of the experience days later.
Quotes & Thoughts as I Read:
- Will I become a murdered reject? Sold into prostitution? These things have happened. There's only one other option. I could become a bride. I've seen them on television, reluctant yet beautiful teenage brides, on the arm of a wealthy man who is approaching the lethal age of twenty-five. Rhine's voice is really different from what I'm used to, I like it though.
- So there we were, both asleep. I awoke with a blade to my throat, looking into the eyes of a man I did not know. I made a small sound, not even a whimper, but that was all it took for my brother to jolt back to consciousness, gun at the ready. I like that we get a look at her life before she was taken. Life is pretty sucky in this dystopia on both ends.
- “You'll see the world again. I can tell. He's going to fall in love with you. And if you'd just listen to me, you'd realize you're going to be his favorite once I'm dead.” She mentions her death so casually. “He'll take you anywhere you want to go.” “Not anywhere,” I say. “Not home.” Is Rhine the only normal one?! I like Rose but she creeps me out and Cecily is disgusting. Rhine needs to stop superimposing her own emotions onto Cecily and realize what a freakin' disgusting creep she is.
- The question hangs heavy on my tongue: Jenna, what has Housemaster Vaughn done to you? But I'm too afraid of the answer. Totally wasn't expecting the lead up to this line. I thought I had Jenna pegged too. PS, the first ten or so times I read 'housemaster' my odd little mind saw it as 'horsemaster' and I was like 'wtf?! This doesn't make sense. Are they comparing the girls to broodmares?'
- He's laughing a little. The helmet falls. He squeezes me, says, “What are you doing?” “I thought you were dead,” I say into his shirt. “I thought you were dead, I thought you were dead.” I can't imagine how any of the girls manage to have clear skin with all the chaos and stress. When I was a teen just thinking about homework was enough to make me breakout.