Okay, so we’ve got to talk about this book! I just finished reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano yesterday. Let me just tell you that I loved it. Seriously, it was great. First off, the cover is a homerun. It’s just gorgeous. Here’s a little of the background: dystopian again, scientists tried to create genetically engineered perfect children and it just about worked with one generation. The offspring, however, of the “first generation” as they’re called, are dying off young. A virus is killing all the girls at the age of 20 and all the guys at the age of 25. So in this world where everyone’s dying early, girls are often kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages in order to have children as soon as possible. In Wither, Rhine (main character) is sold (with two other girls) to become wealthy Linden Ashby’s wife.
It’s a very character-driven kind of book, which I like. While it’s not as fast paced as something like Hunger Games, it still has quite a bit of intensity. The scariest aspect is Housemaster Vaughn–Linden’s creepy dad who is trying to find a cure for the virus (by any and all means, ethical or not). I thought DeStefano did a good job of making us scared of him from the beginning, before we even realized how awful he was. From the first time he’s mentioned, you get the sense that he’s terrible. Anyway, Rhine’s relationships with her sister wives, Cecily and Jenna, were developed really well. In fact, those characters and relationships were probably my favorite elements of the book. Her relationship with Gabriel is sweet and I liked it, but he’s MIA for a portion of the book. So in some ways I would have preferred that relationship have a little more depth. But they can barely speak to each other, really, in such a heavily monitored place, so I guess it makes sense. Her relationship with Linden is complicated. At times it seems like she really likes him, but she never tells him the truth about herself, where she came from, what his dad’s really doing, and so on. I’m not sure why or what the reasoning is behind that. I’m hoping we understand more about Linden in the next book. Because of how well he treated Rhine, and the time they spent talking and how he opened up to her about some things, it didn’t really make sense that she wouldn’t tell him the truth about her twin in the hopes that he would help her.
Part of what is so great about this book is just the intriguing idea of the plot. There seems to be a lot of overlapping in plots these days. That’s not a terrible thing and it’s to be expected with so many books being published, but when you find a book that breaks from that pattern with something really original, it’s refreshing. I mean, a world where you can only live until you’re 20? That’s interesting. I was drawn into the story, wondering what it would be like to know just when your life will end and to know you have so little time. I think that’s why the sister wives aspect worked. These girls have so little time, a “happily ever after” with their soulmate isn’t really realistic to them.
So I absolutely recommend this one to fans of the fantasy/dystopia genre. And I’m really looking forward to the second book in the series! You can go here to read an excerpt and watch the trailer.