Friday, May 6, 2011

Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Goodreads Summary:
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 limted time she has left.

I wanted to read this since I saw the eye-catching cover. It looks more like a photo that belongs in the covers of a fashion magazine then on the cover of a dystopian YA novel.

Wither is compelling and completely hard to put down. I started it on an evening and sat in bed reading until 2AM. The last book I did that for was Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. I tried telling myself to put it down, but I could not sleep until I finished the book. The book literally swept me away with its prose. The amazing writing connect me with Rhine and I rooted for her as she maneuvered and manipulated to gain freedom. She is an easy character to root for - strong and determined. Her emotions are believable as she moves from initial anger to homesick misery to unexpected empathy towards her captor and husband. While Rhine was flushed out, I felt many of the secondary character were not quite as complex. The other two sister wives seemed somewhat stock character like - the young, naive, romantic and the older, jaded, realist provides contrast to Rhine, but I would have like to see them develop more. Additionally, I felt Gabriel did not develop as much as Linden and therefore, could not buy the romance between Rhine and Gabriel. I felt like she latched on to him, as a mode to retain her self in this walled world.

DeStefano created a creepy world where genetic engineering has doomed the human race. While the first "perfect" generation is healthy and illness free, the generations following would be doomed to dying at the ages of 20 or 25, depending on gender. Rhine lives in this dangerous world, where Gatherers kidnapped women to be brides for wealthy families to ensure the line continues. It is a fascinating premise of a world, but there are still some holes I hope is addressed in future books. For example, where's the police? The Gatherers are human traffickers and its obviously a brides black market so where is the judicial system? I would think that despite the bleak world, basic rights, such as freedom, would be intact. And despite the panic, it's hard to think citizens would just accept the fact that women are nabbed ALL THE TIME.

If this world is so deprive of rights, why would parents want to have children in this environment? Knowing they themselves will pass at 20 and 25 respectively, therefore leaving their child/ren to fend for themselves in a cruel and dangerous world, I find it hard that parents would want to bring children up in a world like this. I understand the wealthy might want to have kids since they live in gated homes and so not exposed to the horrors of the average person, but why would others do when they might not be around thereby turning their kids into orphans. Wither has a promising world, but I hope to see it be cultivated more.

Book Source: ARC from publisher

Author Wesbite | Indiebound | Goodreads


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