Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

From the back: What if you knew exactly when you would die? Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

I read a lot of dystopia fiction in 2010, and Wither by Lauren DeStefano is one of the most memorable books in that genre. So I’m just going to put this out there: Wither blew my mind. This is the book you can’t put down, the book you want to linger over even as you’re crazily flipping the pages, the book that gets you quietly screaming “AHHHHHHHH” on the inside. The characters and their lives gripped me by the throat and heart.

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