ARC: 358 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
There has been a lot of great young adult dystopians coming out lately and Wither is one of them. I had very high expectations for this book before I even opened it because of its beautiful cover--a book with a cover like that must have a damn good story to go with it. And now that I have finally read it, I'm happy to say that most of my expectations were met.
First, what I liked about the book. For a debut novel, the writing was fantastic. I loved how it was simple and understandable but at the same time deep and descriptive. Wither really took me to a future of short life spans, arranged marriages and poverty and danger lurking within the ruins of our time now. I would get so engrossed with the book that sometimes it would even take me awhile to come back to the present. I also admired all the characters of the book, even the antagonist. Like my sister, I like my characters not specifically characterized as good or bad, but rather characterized by what they do and the decisions they make. In Wither, all the characters were real and vivid and they all had their own pasts to explain why they are who they are--it made all of their actions, even the antagonist, seem not so completely black and white and I had to analyze it a little bit.
However, there were some things about this book that left me a bit unsatisfied. Since the writing was fantastic, the plot was well-paced and kept me interested that I would always feel an eagerness to continue reading whenever I picked it up again. Throughout the book, I tried to read closely for the climax of the story--I tried to wait for that unexpected turn of events or surprising discovery that will put me on the edge of my seat--until I realized that the story was over and I was still waiting for it. I wondered if I just missed it from not reading it carefully enough or maybe it was a subtle climax. Whatever it was, not feeling that rush of excitement and thrill and suspension left me a little bit disappointed. Another let down was the love interest, Gabriel. Yes, he seemed sweet and caring but was a "wallpaper" character to me. I didn't really know what to make of him because he didn't stand out and therefore I couldn't root for him. Towards the end he did somewhat deserve the title of hero for Rhine but I'm hoping he'll play a greater role in the next book to come.
All in all the book was great, especially the fantastic writing and mostly great characters. The two things that left me unsatisfied were minor and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Dystopian fans, Wither is a must-read and for those who fell in love with the cover and blurb like I did, what's between the pages did not disappoint. I can't wait to go back to Rhine's world and get lost in Ms. DeStefano's writing. 4 out of 5 stars