Author: Lauren DeStefano
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA DeStefano (should be at the library in a few weeks!)
Wither opens on a world suffering from the aftershocks of excessive genetic engineering. Every person born into the second generation dies a premature death, at the age of 20 for women and 25 for men. This has resulted in mass hysteria among the public and kidnapping of young women who are then forced into polygamous marriages. Rhine Ellery lives a cautious and difficult life with her brother until the day she is knocked out and thrown in a dark truck with numerous other girls. Rhine becomes one of three girls chosen to be the new wife of Linden Ashby, the governor’s son.
Expecting a life of abuse and rape, Rhine is surprised to find that Linden is respectful of her and kind. However, his father, Vaughn is a scientist determined to find a cure for his son before Linden’s 25th birthday. Vaughn’s quest to heal his son knows no bounds and he will try anything, no matter how cruel, to reach his goal. Although Rhine begins to love her sister-wives and even makes a friend with servant boy, Gabriel, she must find a way to escape the house before Vaughn decides to experiment on her.
Wither is Lauren DeStefano’s debut work and what a story she created! Although the world that Rhine inhabits is very dystopian, DeStefano shuns excessive world-building and instead focuses on developing convincing relationships between her characters. Not one character is wholly good or bad and their interactions with each other are the heart of the book. In some cases that might make for quite a dull storyline but Wither keeps you on your toes until the very end. This was a truly fascinating debut and I look forward to getting my hands on the next book in the series.
The Bottom Line: Wither was an intriguing dystopian book by a talented debut author. The storyline is inventive but read it for the amazing characters! They are the heart of the book. Fans of dystopian fiction, particularly the new release Across the Universe, should really enjoy this one. It also might appeal to readers who enjoy YA fantasy as well.