My Thoughts: "Here I am in a pretty dress as the world falls apart."
Published: Simon & Schuster (March 22, 2011)
Series: Book 1 of 3
Source: NetGalley ARC
GoodReads Summary: 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 limted time she has left.
That quote struck me right through the heart and spoke volumes of the entire 350+ page novel. I turned off my Nook and immediately opened up a Notepad doc at work to type up this review. You guys, I am so floored by this book. I had slight difficulty getting into it at first, but about 100 pages in and I was completely hooked, just as I'd dreamed I'd be.
Rhine didn't ask for any of this. She didn't ask to be stolen away from her brother and forced into a polygamous marriage. But FREAKING A, did she do a good job of putting on a great facade while internally deteriorating. I connected so much with Rhine. What she goes through in this novel is ghastly, disturbing, dismal, and bleak. I seriously think those four words flashed across my mind's eye for the duration of this novel. All the pretense, sadness, and terror resonated in me while reading about the horrible things that occurred within this book. Yet I couldn't look away. It was addicting. And it contains possibly one of the more frightening villains I've ever read about.
The relationships in Wither are so very carefully built. I am practically rendered speechless, but will try to pound out my feelings on this keyboard regarding the emotional investment I have in these characters. Did Cecily, the youngest sister wife, annoy the bajeezus out of me 85% of the time? YES. But did I love her? OH YES. I adored the relationship amongst Linden Ashby's three wives. They were so fragile, dysfunctional, and loving. They were all each other had, in a sense. The connections among the three of them was something delicate and beautiful. But my favorite character, hands down, was Linden. No lie, there was one passage in particular that made me almost choke up. I was not expecting him to become such a sympathetic character, but here we are. He's so multi-dimensional and there are so many things that we've yet to see from him, I feel.
The love story was despairing and desperate. I mean that in an extremely good way. DeStefano managed to depict finding love in the darkest of situations in such a breathtaking way. The gradual chemistry between Gabriel and Rhine (and Rhine and Linden!) was stomach-tumblingly good. I cannot WAIT for more. There's still so much of a story to be told and I, for one, NEED IT RIGHT NOW.
And do I even need to elaborate on the GORGEOUS imagery? I could picture every single outfit that Deirdre made for Rhine. I could see the eerily perfect garden and landscaping. The swimming pools, the flowers, the June Beans. I can't even take it.
Wither is painfully, beautifully tragic. Can you imagine only living until 20? Can you imagine watching those you love die in the prime of their life? It's awfully depressing, but I cannot wait for more of this. DeStefano knows how to tell a depressing, horrifying story and make it irresistible. SHE KNOWS. And she should know she knows and NEVER STOP WRITING EVER.