Wither by Lauren DeStefano

It’s no secret that dystopian books are some of my favorite.  I’m thrilled that they seem to be taking over the market right now and it’s hard for me to pass up the chance to read the latest and greatest in the genre.  I saw Wither being buzzed about in the blogosphere and added it to my list of must-reads when I got a chance to glance at the cover.  How gorgeous is that?  And luckily, the story did not disappoint!

Set in the future, in a world where every human being is living a countdown; a countdown to death.  Males only live to 25 and women to age 20.  Rhine has been captured off the street, kidnapped, to be used as a bride for a wealthy young man.  At almost sixteen, she had planned to spend her remaining few years living with her twin brother and caring for him.  Instead, after being kidnapped, she is forced to marry a sad young man and live with his other two wives.  Rhine has been chosen to replace Linden’s favored first wife, recently deceased. Suddenly she is residing in a world of wealth and privilege, instead of the dangerous basement apartment she shared with her brother.  She has favored status among the wives and Linden doesn’t even seem that bad.

But Rhine longs to be free.  She plays the game, appeasing Linden and her father-in-law, appearing to be the ideal wife.  In reality, she is planning her escape.  She is determined not to live out her last days in a prison, even if it takes on the appearance of a palace.  She needs to return to her brother, and that means manipulating those around her.  But can she move through her life without having any feelings for or towards those around her?  Will she be able to break free and leave behind those who have grown to care for her, like Gabriel, her friend (and servant)?

I read mixed reviews of Wither before I ordered myself a copy.  The cover art is gorgeous and the premise sounded intriguing.  But a few bloggers I trust had so-so reactions.  Hence, I began the book a little apprehensive.  Well let me tell you- I was sucked in within the first few pages!    Some reviewers complain that the world-building is irritating in the sense that it seems incomplete.  I have to admit I didn’t notice that.  The plot and the characters drew me in so much that I didn’t even think about the world outside of Rhine’s home.  That’s a credit to DeStefano’s incredible prose.  Rhine’s emotions leap off the page, and the characterization is perfect.  There are no flat or static characters here- every single character seems to jump off the page, standing in front of you.  Everyone is real.  I can’t think of a better way to put it.  Even the characters I hated were human and sympathetic.  I felt for all of them, which was no easy feat in a book like this.  Kudos to Lauren DeStefano.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

*purchased by me