Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 386 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 22, 2011)
Source: Provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Cover: This is perhaps one of my favorite YA covers of all time. It's even more beautiful in person and all I have is the ARC version. The wording and lines are in pink foiling and the color is so rich. Love, love, love this cover!
First Sentence: "I wait."
The Mini-Review: Wither goes straight for the mind and heart, telling Rhine's story with such beautiful imagery and language, it's hard not to fall in love.
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 limted time she has left.
Wither's title fits this debut novel better with every page. Told with beautiful language and imagery, Rhine's world is a scary one not only because of what happens but because it feels like a very real scenario. Rhine and her sister wives, and Linden and Gabriel felt real enough to touch and I found myself trying to figure out a way to pull them from the pages and give them the full life I wanted so badly for them to have.
Rhine is incredibly strong for a sixteen year old girl thrown into a life of forced marriage and a staggering expiration date of the tender age of 20. She's distraught with her current situation but never gives up her determination to get back home. I think I loved that most about her. She experienced a life of extreme luxury with a guy that she might have even learned to love but she never forgot what she was forced to give up to get this: freedom. I also really enjoyed getting to know her two sister wives. Rhine's relationship to them was a bit teneous but I enjoyed watching them interact and I loved Jenna. Linden felt very real and I found myself liking more as Rhine did. I thought the relationship with Gabriel gave us just enough to hang on to hope and I loved that they bonded over June Beans, especially since I felt they represented Rose.
Ms. DeStefano's choice of language throughout the book is as beuatiful as the mansion she worked extensively to describe. There were times when the imagery was so vivid and poignant, I found myself re-reading the passages. Ms. DeStefano works tirelessly to tell us what Rhine is missing through flashbacks and weaves images into the story, only to have them come back in her current reality in a haunting way. I had no idea where the story was going to go and I wanted to often to pull these characters out of their situation and see who'd they grow to become if this terrible deadline wasn't looming over them.
Wither is not for the light hearted. The first few pages open with a bang and it doesn't get any easier for all of the characters from there. It's also a novel I wouldn't dream of missing. The cover is one of my absolute favorites but it's what you find beneath it that's a true beauty. This is a must read for 2011.