Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Published by Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: March 22nd 2011
Format: eARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
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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 Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
Wither is a very unique dystopian story. Because Rhine is confined to House Governor Linden’s mansion since her abduction we only get glimpses of the actual state of the world through her memories. Rhine paints a depressing picture of it, where men die at twenty-five years old and women at twenty. Where girls as young as thirteen are abducted to be sold as brides, into prostitution or murdered if not wanted. North America is the only continent left in the world and the majority of the population is poor and orphaned.
Rhine is not the type of girl to be caged. She wants freedom, even if it means returning to a world where everyday there’s a risk she might be abducted again. Linden might be kind and give her and her sister-wives everything they want but at the end of the day, she’s still caged. And that is why she wants out. I understand why others would be content with this life, I even hoped at different times in the book that she would give up her quest to leave and just be content, but as Rhine points out, it’s a lie…and illusion of a happy life. None of it is real.
The only person this situation is possibly real for is Linden, who has been sheltered and lied to all of his life by his father, Housemaster Vaugh, the villain in the story. The fact that he’s so clueless made me angry with him and broke my heart for him at the same time. I wanted so badly for someone to tell him how it really was, but I also know that it would destroy him.I do have faith that he is stronger than he is perceived though.
Like Rhine, I became very attached to her sister-wives. Cecily for instance, at thirteen, is so eager to grow up and bear Linden’s children. It made me really sad and angry that Linden didn’t even hesitate to bed her, but it’s what she thinks she wants. Then there’s Jenna, who at eighteen is just waiting to die. She hates Linden until she realizes that he isn’t really the bad guy, but even then she refuses to let him in emotionally so their relationship is purely physical. I do believe Linden wanted more than that though, with all of his wives actually. Jenna gives nothing of who she really is except to Rhine and the way she looked after her really made me love Jenna.
Rhine and Linden’s relationship was interesting. He favors her and opens up to her and maybe that’s the reason he doesn’t push her to do anything with him that she doesn’t want to do. I do think that after almost a year of being married to her he would have tried harder to make it happen. Especially if he truly loves her as he says. I truly believe he’s really a good person. Naive maybe, but a good person none the less. Rhine stays on his good side to try and earn his trust, but I think she really cares for him, unbeknownst to herself. I actually think she cares more about Linden than Gabriel (or maybe its just because I do) but doesn’t realize it. I didn’t really get to know Gabriel like I did Linden, and maybe that’s the reason I favor Linden.
Overall, Lauren DeStefano brought numerous emotions out of me with Wither. It gripped me. I felt anger, despair, love and loss. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking book that will stay with you for days after reading, go pick this up! I’d also like to point out that Wither made me realize that, while the dynamic between the sister-wives was powerful, I could never be in a polygamous relationship. I am far too jealous to share my man with anybody else. Haha.