“By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years--leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek 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 sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet 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 has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.
“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?”
I bought this book because the cover is absolutely gorgeous, but also the premise sounded interesting. While I liked the book, I can’t say I loved it. Rhine is a strong character, even though her actions at times had my skin crawling. For example, her sister wife Cecily is the most obnoxious, insensitive bitch, but Rhine continues to be kind to her and overlook her faults. I kept waiting for Rhine to smack her or get revenge on her or something but it never happened. Toward the end, when Rhine finally speaks up to Cecily, I felt like she was pulling her punches, holding back. Rather than leaving the reader with a nice cathartic release, it left me wanting more.
This also happens in Rhine’s interactions with Linden. Every once in a while, Rhine says she is just being nice to him because she has to win his trust in order to escape, but her actions give us a whole different impression. To me, it felt like she didn’t have enough fire in her belly for this man who essentially is her prisoner. Linden is annoyingly oblivious to the world around him, and I suppose we should sympathize with him, but I just didn’t care about him at all. I wanted Rhine to blow up and tell him the truth of how she came to be his wife and what happened to the other girls he rejected. That never happens. Then, when she is with Linden, all thoughts of Gabriel disappear, and that irritated me. So she is supposedly crushing on Gabriel, her servant, but when he is out of sight (which is most of the time) he is also out of mind. We also don’t get very much sexual tension or emotional connection between either her and Gabriel or her and Linden. If this was meant to form some sort of interesting love triangle, it left me lukewarm.
(Side note: Linden’s gold teeth made me picture Flava Flav.)
The story was dark and captivating, but I thought the world building could have used a bit of fleshing out. So there is this “virus” that kills girls at exactly 20 years old and boys at exactly 25 years old. Since this is a science based book and not a paranormal, this seems a little too thrown together without much thought given to the science behind it. Why the five year difference between the sexes? Why does this virus suddenly kick in at exactly the right ages? The only explanation I could come up with is that the author needed something quick and easy to justify her plot. The thing is though, with a bit more realistic explanation, it could have taken this from a good book to a great book.
Overall, I give Wither...
Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 3 bookmarks (We get a lot from the girls, but nothing from the boys)
Age Appropriateness - Warning: 20 year old Linden knocks up 13 year old Cecily. This may skeeve some parents out. This child mother creeped me out and did not make me like Linden.
Romance - 1 bookmark (Just didn’t care about it.)
World Building - 3 bookmarks (Not bad, but could have been so much more with a little more thought.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Bridgit Mendler (Rhine), Willow Shields (Cecily), Nina Dobrev (Jenna), Blake Lively (Rose), David Henrie (Gabriel), Logan Lerman (Linden)