Rating: 5/5 Stars
Release Date: 3/22/2011
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About the Book: In the future, scientists have eliminated all disease thanks to the wonders of genetic engineering. But the downfall is that the offspring of those genetic engineered children now have a shorter lifespan-twenty years for women, twenty-five for me. Some still believe in a cure and will do anything they can to find one, including kidnapping and selling young girls into polygamist marriages.
Rhine is 16 and finds herself being taken to Housemaster Vaughn's household to be married off to his son, Linden. She refuses to accept this new role and is determined to find a way out. She begins to develop feelings for one of the household staff, Gabriel, and Rhine is convinced she and Gabriel can escape Housemaster Vaughn's clutches. But the world around Rhine is blurring and it's getting harder and harder to see what is real and what is a lie.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Wither was a book I wanted to devour in one sitting yet also read slowly so I could savor every word. Be prepared to hear a lot about this book-this one is going to be big and I think it has a great crossover adult appeal as well.
Although it's set in the future, life in Housemaster Vaughn's house almost has the feel of a period drama and I think it will appeal to readers of historical fiction as well as fans of dystopian novels. Like Rhine, we never know what really is happening-what is real and what is a lie. Housemaster Vaughn is up to something, but we don't know what and that mystery adds to the story. He claims he's trying to find a cure, but we get a very creepy vibe from him and we never really know exactly what to think. Our vision of the world around Rhine blurs right along with her. Who can Rhine really trust? What's really going on in the house? Is Linden good or bad? Should she really try to escape or should she stay in the safe comforts of the house-it's not really that bad...or is it? The author keeps the reader guessing just as much as Rhine and it makes for a delicious and quietly suspenseful read.
The characters are all fantastic-not only do we get to know Rhine, but we really get to know and care for her sister wives, Cecily and Jenna. Cecily, Rhine and Jenna balance each other out nicely. Cecily, the youngest, is a spoiled brat who takes pleasure in being a wife and can't wait to bear children. She doesn't understand the horrors of the real world. Jenna has had a hard life and is ready to die and won't share any of her life with Linden. And Rhine is caught in the middle-she wants to escape and return to her brother, but the life she was living was nowhere as luxurious as the one she has now. Should she really give it up?
The author has a fantastic balance of telling and showing. She tells us that Rhine is spending time with our cast of characters and then she also gives us a glimpse into a conversation with them. This balance made the romance as well as the friendships between the sister wives more real.
And the romance-love it! The author has this great way of making us unsure of who we like, who we trust, and if someone is good or bad. It's never sappy or over the top, but instead she keeps us guessing along with Rhine as to what really is going on and what exactly her feelings are.
This is a first in a trilogy, yet Wither wraps up nicely enough to not leave me hanging with a horrible cliffhanger. There are still questions left unanswered and I want to know more, but I also felt satisfied with the ending.
Wither had me thinking about it long after I finished. I've been raving about it since and telling my friends and co-workers to read it. Even if you're not typically a fan of dystopian novels, I would suggest giving this one a try. It's a somewhat quiet dystopian with just the right amount of romance, suspense, mystery, and overall could this happen creepiness to make Wither stand out in the crowded dystopian field. I think it's safe to say it's one of my favorite reads of 2011. A great debut-I can't wait to read more!
Book Pairings: I think this will hold a lot of appeal for historical fiction fans, so I would pair it with The Luxe by Ana Godbersen or A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee. It also reminds me a bit of Beauty and the Beast, and could pair nicely with Beauty and Beast retellings. It could also pair well with Delirium by Lauren Oliver, another quiet dystopian with romance.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by publisher