October 08, 2011
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
I had heard some good t hings about this book, and the cover just looked intriguing, so I knew I had to read it. I was actually somewhat surprised (pleasantly) about this book. It had interesting concepts, and while there were a few flaws, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm a big fan of dystopian novels, so that probably had something to do with it as this one definitely qualifies as such.
Rhine starts this novel huddled in the back of a van with a bunch of other young girls. She knows what is going on, its obvious she's been "gathered" for sale as either a prostitute or to be a "wife" in the harem of some rich man looking to help the procreation efforts. Despite trying to be unnoticed, she and two other girls are chosen and loaded into the back of a limo. The last thing she remembers hearing are the gun shots for the rest of the van's occupants before sleep overtakes her.
You see, Rhine's world is a little bit different. Due to the meddling of scientists with humans trying to eradicate disease, her life expectancy is only twenty, as it is for all females. Males are little better at twenty-five years mortality rate. When Rhine next awakes she is a mansion, and as she expected, about to become a sister wife with the other two girls brought to the mansion, Cecily and Jenna. While their stay is extravagant Rhine wants to escape and return home to her twin brother. But most of all she sees freedom and Gabriel, an attendant who is fond of her, may be her way out of this place. But the master of the house has different plans, he wants his sons wives safe, and will be ruthless with the handling of any disobedience.
I actually liked Rhine quite a bit. She is a strong character and each of the sister-wives in this novel has a distinct personality. Even little Cecily is amusing at times and you have to admire Jenna. I don't quite understand their interaction with Linden (their new husband) though. Without giving too much away I just can't decide why they aren't honest with him. The father of Linden plays a good bad guy and he does seem menacing without ever actually being in the story too much.
Since this is a dystopian novel there is a lot of dark aspects. Especially since this is written for young adults there are some very heavy topics. Not to give too much away, but Cecily, the thirteen year old does have sex with Linden the twenty-one year old. Now this is normal for their world due to life spans, but when looked at through our culture it could offend some people. The sex isn't described out, but it is alluded to. There are also topics of death and unhappiness and misery. This is not a light-hearted book. But it is well written. While I could have done with more descriptions of the world as it is instead of some of the meaningless dialogue thrown in (what kinds of dresses, makeup etc the girls are being dressed with) I did catch myself becoming immersed in the book. I do have to say though, having just read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale, I found a lot of similarities. I'd hazard a guess that it was probably an inspiration for this book.
Definitely a dark book but great to read. I look forward to the next two books in the series.