BOOK REVIEW: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Book: Wither by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden #1)

Genre: YA, Dystopian

Rhine Ellery is going to die when she’s twenty. Thanks to a horrible mishap of an attempt at eliminating disease entirely, the human race is slowly dying. Males have a lifespan of 25 years, and women just 20. In spite of geneticists efforts, no cure is eminent and the entire population is being taken over by desperate orphans, left without parents or guardians as they die off. In the midst of the poverty, young girls are kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to make sure that the population continues to grow. Rhine never expected to be kidnapped–she had as good a life as any, living with her twin brother in the city where their parents died–but when she is kidnapped by a ruthless geneticist to be a wife for his son Linden, she vows to do everything in her power to escape. But between her father-in-law’s disturbing medical experiments, the drama with her sister-wives, and falling in love with a servant boy, it might be a little harder to escape than she had anticipated. Besides, what is there to escape to when the world is falling into shambles and your life is a ticking time bomb? Rhine isn’t sure, but she knows she has to find out.

I was actually surprised at how much I liked this one. It was one of my 2-second grabs off the YA spotlight at the library–I thought the description sounded interesting, the cover was okay, and that was that. Once I started reading and realized what it was about I had a few moments of doubt. I mean, girls being kidnapped and forced into a polygamous marriage is not exactly my idea of an appropriate subject for YA fiction (Or, let’s face it, any fiction) it wasn’t too graphic or anything, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and kept on reading. Ultimately, I’m glad I did. It was definitely a unique twist on the dystopian society. If you’ve read The Selection series by Kiera Cass or the Matched series by Ally Condie, this is like either of those stories, grown up and locked in a dungeon with an evil step sister for twelve years.

It also reminded me of The Madman’s Daughter series that I just finished, probably just because of the weird medical agenda. Rhine’s father-in-law really is very Dr. Jekyll-esque.

As to the rest of the book, they try really hard to make Rhine’s husband out to be one of the good guys but I just couldn’t find it in myself to be attached to him at all. Either he’s completely clueless and doesn’t care how his father procured these THREE women to be his wives, or he does know how his father did it and is just as nasty and twisted as his old man is. Either way, he has no qualms about having three wives. I know, I know, it’s a dystopian society–it’s normal for him, or whatever. I tried. I just don’t like him, and it annoyed me that Rhine was having any second thoughts about escaping. Hello Stockholm Syndrome.

That being said, it was still a good read. Whether I like the characters or not, if I feel strongly about them in any way, I consider it a good book. This was definitely an interesting one. It did move a little slow in the middle, but it wasn’t bad. I’ll be looking up the next book in the series soon.

I liked it: 3 out of 5 stars.