Wither by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
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.
My Take: So Rhine goes to give plasma so it can be studied in order to solve the problem of an early death. In the current world, men live to age 25, women to age 18. But it was a trap. Some rich mucky-muck hired some Gatherers to nab teenagers so some guy can have wives and procreate. Three are chosen and taken to a mansion/prison where they are to live, bear children, and die.
The easy way for this story to read would to have the husband be a jerk and the sister wives to be petty and jealous all the time. Instead, the author provides a completely different story. Linden, the husband is under the illusions that his father has painted for him. He has no idea these women were kidnapped. He believes they chose to become a bride. Each of the three wives that are chosen have vastly different experiences and personalities, adding much to the story. Jenna is graceful, experienced and full of sorrow, Cecily is young, vivacious, and naive, and Rhine came from a two parent home with a twin brother she wants desperately to reach.
Although Jenna and Rhine never truly forget how they arrived at the mansion, they forge relationships between themselves and their husband, tenuous that it may be. Linden seems decent enough but he also lacks experience in the real world and his reality is what has been created for him. He's not a character to hate. In fact, although the world seems full of thieves, kidnappers, and all manner of vile characters, there is only one the reader comes to fear and hate as revealed by Rhine's experiences.
The book is the first in a trilogy. I can't wait for the next two installments!