Book Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

My Rating: ★★ and 1/2 or 2.5

Synopsis: By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.  When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out? Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

Review: Oh this book messed me up… some parts of it irritated me so much. There are part where I was shouting (in my head) “IT MAKES NO SENSE!!”. This book is also intense (and I mean intense, there is kidnapping, child brides and probably some Stockholm Syndrome). I feel like this is probably for the older tier YA readers because it will probably scar younger teens.

In this dystopian world where this book is set, all men die at 25 and all women die at 20. For me I kind of find this disease stupid, how can illness determine people’s age? Anyway, this was caused by scientists and everyone who was born after the disease was ‘created’ dies when they are of age. There are still some people called ‘first generations’ who still live to old age. The plotline of this story is that 16-year-old Rhine and her twin brother live together, trying to work enough to live. Rhine is then kidnapped (which is very common in this world) and sold into a polygamous marriage with 3 other women. She is sold to a rich man named Linden and she becomes the ‘first wife’ (the one Linden takes to events and is shown off).

The reason that all the men in this book have so many wives is to have as many babies as possible. My question is, why would you try to keep the human race alive if you know they are going to die before you can even meet your children? For example one of Linden’s wives is 13 years old and she had a child at 14 (I’m not even going to talk about this yet). She will only be able to raise her child until it is 6, then she will die. WHY? It just frustrates me so much.

Now let’s talk about Cecily, the 13-year-old bride and mother. She had a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome. She was obsessed about starting a family with Linden and she was determined to be the first wife. This I found pretty disturbing.

The book tries to make Linden look like a good guy and… sure he is kind to all his wives but other times he is just plain stupid. He thought that all his wives go to a school to become a ‘suitable bride’ and then sent to his house. How couldn’t he have guessed that they were all kidnapped! Seriously, kidnapping is a regular occurrence in this book’s world so how could he not assume that at all. Linden had just one wife before but she is dying because she is 20, they make it seem like he is heartbroken and sure he could be but if you knew you would be sad why would you marry more women? There are other men in the world that could have children.

The writing style in this book was okay. I would have liked more about if the other continents in the world also had this problem with the disease. A lot of this book I was trying to read quickly because I was bored. There were descriptions of dresses and food but not really much else. (okay that is a lie, there is but this isn’t really a riveting read)

One last thing, the ending of this book was an incredible cliffhanger. Obviously, I had to read the next book but the first couple of chapters were not really ‘my thing’ and I pretty much didn’t care what happened to Rhine so, sorry Rhine but I left you.

Overall, this book was weird, intense and kind of disturbing. This definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.

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