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Wither by Lauren Destefano

Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Pages: 368

Ages: Young Adult

Publishers Summary: 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?

Life begins and ends in a single breathe. Before you know it you’ve lived half your life by the time you’re only ten years old, all those around you who would care for you are gone save one or perhaps two, and suddenly your only future is ripped away before your eyes. This is the story of Rhine. Growing up in a world where lives are lived in fear of truly living, unless you happen to be the select few who reign in power, she lives worrying about the possibility of being taken from her only remaining family – her twin brother. When one day her fears come to fruition she’s suddenly trapped between two choices, a life of privilege and fear or the possibility of being reunited with her twin brother again. Her choices are only made more difficult by the love her new husband, sister-wives and a new friendship. In a struggle to the last pages Rhine will have to make difficult decisions and take terrible risks to escape the imprisoning grasp of her new life and especially her father-in-law.

Wow! If it sounds like a lot to pack into a small space, you are absolutely right, but it’s so well done. When I initially read this (nearly 3 months ago) I was in a terrible reading slump, struggling to find something I could enjoy and dreading the next droning book. I needed something unique, something I’d never read before. Wither was exactly what I needed. It kick started my reading in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time and I’m so happy it did.

So really, how do I do this book justice? First of all it’s not your typical dystopian novel. I mean, who throws in polygamy into a YA dystopian novel and who would normally think it would work? Not me, for sure. I was extremely hesitant about that aspect, it could have gone so wrong, but it didn’t. It was incredibly tasteful and added a dimension to the story I wouldn’t have expected. The dynamic between Rhine and her new sister-wives adds so much to the story, one I anticipate will further complicate things as the next two books in the series are published. As well as the pure love her husband has for her, unlike any of the other sister-wives, you could see he was conflicted by everything in their world and in the end this could play out for good or bad.

On the aspect of timing and genetics, I’m so interested to see how this plays out. It was obvious that Rhine’s father-in-law had plans for her because of her unusual genetic characteristics, one blue eye and one brown. I’m eager to see what his intentions are for her because of that. The complication lies in the time, with only 20 years of life within her Rhine is running on empty. And as she’s demonstrated already she’s willing to truly “live,” unlike so many others. It’s inevitable that there will be some sort of evil “show-down” with the father-in-law and I for one can’t wait, I love a good bad guy!

This is a book that absolutely lives up to the hype in every way possible. Do not pass this one up! From day one, when I initially saw the cover (which is gorgeous by the way!) to the time I read it, it’s invigorated my love of reading again. A unique dystopian novel that shows the world there are still fantastic new writers out there to be discovered and their writing devoured. Take the time to be surprised by the topic of polygamy and genetics in a whole new way. Lauren DeStefano has made a superb debut and I have no doubt we’ll see much more amazing writing from her in the future.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 14 and up. Be prepared to be surprised by this debut dystopian novel with the twist of polygamy and short lives. How would you choose to live, if you knew you only had 20-25 years to “live”?

Take a look at the incredible new book trailer for another sneak peak at this fantastic novel:

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for providing a copy of this book for review! Make sure to check them out on Twitter and Facebook!
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11 Responses to Book Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

  1. Sounds fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable. Great honest review 🙂

  2. Beth Hoffman says:

    What a terrific review! I’ll add this to my list for certain.

  3. NotNessie says:

    I thought the genetic engineering twist gave the story a unique spin, and I’m interested to see where it goes. Great review!

  4. Gina says:

    It’s always fun seeing what you thought of a book versus myself. Same pages read, but the points of view always find something new to discover. Whereas you read it a few months ago, I just dove into it last week…and finished it in record time. Good point raised about the polygamy…it was tastefully done especially with the reasons behind it. Fantastic post! *claps enthusiastically* ^_^

  5. Samantha says:

    Talk about an unusual storyline! I’m like you I’d be hesitant on the whole sisterwives concept. But it sounds like you liked it and I like books that make me think so I’ll have to grab a copy! Thanks for the post! 🙂

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