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?
Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
Taken from Goodreads, more info and where to buy here: Wither
I'm still trying to digest what just happened to me, but I can start with saying that though I am late to the game with this book, it certainly was something else. I've had it on my shelf now for a few years, having purchased it because it was beautiful and on the bargain shelf at the newly opened bookstore after my beloved Borders went out. I can remember seeing something about it on Ky's blog, way back when and grabbing it for a few dollars.
There on my shelf I saw a pretty girl in a pretty dress with what appeared to be some sort of crop field designs around her and a bird cage. Strange. Yes. But opening the book it all came together, and like a Florida hurricane--blew me away.
Rhine is one of those characters who does have a much deeper inner monologue than you would expect. She is often asked a simple question, ponders a deep complex answer with memories flooding to the surface, but then turns and gives a quick two word answer that has that same sort of impact Han Solo did when the Princess confesses her love.
[Leia and Han share a passionate kiss before Han is dragged towards the freezing chamber by the imperials]
Princess Leia: I love you.
Han Solo: I know.
However, you will need to insert more inner thoughts in between the two lines so it would read more like this.
[Leia and Han share a passionate kiss before Han is dragged towards the freezing chamber by the imperials]So in this I had a few problems. I understand where the author was coming from, she wanted us to know Rhine's longing, but after a few thousand paragraphs of that I had about enough of it. I did want her to be with her brother again, and I wanted to know of the world she belonged to before she was stolen. However, the inner monologue stuff about did me in, couldn't she have just told Gabriel about it once and be done with it?
Princess Leia: I love you.
The words left her lips long before the memory of their kiss had ended. He felt himself come to life beneath her touch, but with every single beat of his heart he could feel the ending of his life drawing closer. Han remembered a time when he was a child, long lost boy of the wilderness, where he too had known a kiss like this. His parents had told him stories of space princesses, long forgotten in a time where lasers ruled the world and big harry creatures were nothing better than helpless companions. He should have told her this, that perhaps it wasn't a memory that he recalled so fondly but more of a premonitions of the things to come. He had so much hope in her that he could have died a thousand times again just to see her smile, but while thinking about this gets lost at the thought of her lips one last time. He should confess to her of his love, but that would defeat the plan and spoil the plot. So instead he just parts his lips one last time to say...
Han Solo: I know.
As the story went on, I found myself captivated by the different lives the wives all led before, how their stories were so tragically different yet flawlessly joined together for their common fate. Even as a few betrayals came up, I never hated any of the characters, because it was all they knew. I thought the darker undertones certainly didn't fit the genre, but in a good way! I would have loved to have read this for a more mature audience, though I certainly could fill in the blanks. It reminded me of what I loved so much about The Giver in ways you don't know what is going on behind those closed doors to those babies, but you know it can't be good!
I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the whole thing, read it in under 12 hours and am about to go force my husband out of bed to get the second one from the store, because I just can't wait for Amazon to deliver it.
Wither gets 5/5 stars in my opinion just for the pure pleasure it was to be captivated by a story so quickly and the desire to get my Gemini self up off the couch, and to the bookstore. Go check it out!