Friday, 12 August 2011

Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Wither- Lauren DeStefano
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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 she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left (Description from Goodreads)

I had pretty high expectations for 'Wither' and I'm happy to say they were met.

DeStefano writes of a world destroyed through medical advances. While the human race no longer fears cancer, they now fear a virus that kills women when they turn 20 and men at 25. Despite the medical advances they seemed to have gain over the years, there is no cure for this life robbing virus. To make matters worse, because of the limited time people have, there is a habit of kidnapping women of all ages to be married off to wealthy men in order to bring about heirs. Rhine Ellery, our leading lady, is one of these brides; sold into wealthy captivity in order to ease the broken heart of her new husband.

I found 'Wither' to be a really confronting novel. Forced polygamy, kidnapping and captivity (and believing that freedom can be pushed aside if you're comfortable in captivity), a 13 year old girl having sex with a 21 year old man (with only Rhine questioning the morality of it) and the unconditional trust given to parents. For me, the hardest part to deal with was the 3 wives.

Linden seemed like a nice enough person, a little weak and unobservant at times, but I had trouble accepting his willingness to have 3 wives. While it wasn't uncommon in his society to take more than one wife, he was content with only one wife while Rose was alive, and yet moved comfortably into the role of husband to 3 more girls while Rose is lying in bed dying from the virus. He floats between Rhine, Jenna and Cecily like they're 3 faces of the same woman. One the listen to and comfort him; one to entertain him; and one to bear his children. I know we were supposed to feel this way, to understand why Rhine was uncomfortable and to hope for her chance to escape, but it was still hard to take in. I was amazed at her ability to resist Linden for so long.

I loved the theme of freedom. Rhine showed so much strength by holding onto the hope of escape and I loved her for not just accepting the role she was placed into because it was the easy way out. I like that the idea of freedom wasn't just about leaving Florida, but also freedom within the house, freedom to talk to whoever she wanted, freedom to love (*cough*Gabriel*cough*).

I love the voice DeStefano has given Rhine. She never comes across as completely happy, even when she's with Gabriel, and it fits so well with the twisted and depressing scenes we're given throughout the book. Rhine doesn't want to be a bride, never wanted to be a bride and is going to do anything she can to be free of this life once again.

I wish there'd been more scenes with Gabriel. I know the role he had towards the end of the book was important in the scheme of things, and the time they had together was enough to show that Gabriel was the one Rhine wanted holding and loving her. But it would have been nice to see more of that develop.

Fabulous book, can't wait for the next one. Hope they find a cure.
4.5/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads. 


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