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After modern science turns every human into a genetic time bomb with men dying at age twenty-five and women dying at age twenty, girls are kidnapped and married off in order to repopulate the world.

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Thanks to the wonders of genetic engineering, Rhine lives in a society where males die at 25 years old & females only live to age 20. Due to the time limits, girls are kidnapped and sold as brides to have children. Rhine ends up in a world of 'Wealth and privilege" but what happens when what she really wants is Freedom? ( )
  ShannonRose4 | Sep 15, 2020 |
I received an ARC from Simon and Schuster so I gave it a try. It was pretty good; maybe 1 part Hunger Games and 3 parts The Handmaid's Tale. Sort of a Handmaid's Tale for a new generation, minus Atwood's profundity.

I'm a little fuzzy on the science, but I can suspend my disbelief. Wither is set in a United States in which genetic engineering has unleashed a virus that kills girls at 20 and boys at 25. So there are people older than 70 (before the virus), and people younger than 25, but nobody in between (kind of like Athens, Georgia). (It would be more believable if the virus killed you, you know, around 20 or 25, depending on gender, but no---it's exactly 20 or 25. Every. Single. Time.)

Girls are routinely kidnapped and sold off to wealthy young men as brides so that they can keep the population going before they blow out those 20 candles and suddenly keel over dead. Sixteen-year-old Rhine, the protagonist, is kidnapped and sold off along with two sister-wives, and the chief action of the plot is her series of attempts to escape.

There's off-screen sex and some violence, so I can't think why this would be more appropriate for the YA set than The Handmaid's Tale, which I would recommend over it any day. Still, it's a fun and quick read and I'll pick up the sequels.

Given that everyone in the world is under 25 or over 70, I'm surprised it isn't more Lord of the Flies.
  CatherineMachineGun | Jul 31, 2020 |
Read more of my YA books reviews on my book blog here.

My Summary:

In a brave new future, DNA engineering has resulted in a terrible genetic flaw. Women die at the young age of 20, men at 25. Young girls are being abducted in attempts to keep humanity ahead of the disease that threatens to eradicate it.

16 year old Rhine Ellery is kidnapped and sold as a bride to the son of a cruel scientist who desperately pries Rhine's friend's cold dead bodies open in a failing attempt to find a cure in the cold sterile basement of the mansion Rhine is trapped inside of.
All Rhine dreams of escaping that cruel place with it's endless hallways and it's lies that hide behind the beauty of the place, and find her way back across the country back to her twin brother and her home, as unsafe as it might be.

But no matter how far Rhine runs, all ways lead back to husband she does not love with his three wives and murderous father.

Will Rhine be able to find a way to escape or will she need to learn to love her captor in the little time she has left to live?

My Thoughts:

In Wither, Rhine's character appealed to me - her stubbornness and persistence. I also like Jenna, one of her sister wives, and despite her annoying bossiness I grew a liking towards Cecily, her other sister wife too.

You only get introduced to Rowan, Rhine's twin brother through memories and dreams, but even still, I like him too.

Gabriel is a servant working at the mansion who Rhine develops feelings towards, although I found his character rather flat and two dimensional. Maybe that's just because I didn't get to see much of him, or maybe it's because I vote for Linden (Rhine's husband) to be with her.
About that, I find that Linden is a very troubled guy. His love and loss over Rose, his first wife, clouds his feelings toward Rhine and at times it's hard to determine whether he truly loves her (Rhine), or if he wants to be with her purely for the fact that she looks a lot like Rose.

Despite that, the friendship that develops over the space of the novel between the sister wives and Rhine is the realest relationship for me in Wither. The bond that they have by the end of the book is unbreakable, despite their hatred of each other in the beginning.

Overall this book is incredibly creepy. The story, the writing style (it's exquisite) - everything about it is disturbing, but that made me love it all the more. I found it nearly impossible to put down, but not just because it's a page turner, but because I found myself feeling Rhine's every emotion - hating who she hated, and missing who she missed.
Each character had their likable traits (except Linden's father - he was one of the creepiest villains ever) and if you read carefully, there are lyrics to life in there. ( )
  angelgay | Jul 1, 2020 |
I read this back when It came out...back when the dystopian craze was in its beginnings. WITHER, was a gem that didn't get the hype that the Divergent and the Selection received. Which is sad because it should have, it was creative, unique to the genre, and VERY well written.

Its about a Girl named that lives in a distant (but not flying car distant) United states. She and her twin brother live together and protect each other from the may dangers of this dystopian society. Things happen, chaos ensues and the story unfolds.
The characters are all so realized, and the story is well thought out and researched.
HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend! ( )
  AndrewGH | Oct 9, 2019 |
Wither by Lauren DeStefano, which is the first book in The Chemical Garden trilogy, was an unexpected gem to find in the dystopian genre. With other dystopian novels like, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Uglies, The Selected, etc. one would have thought that futuristic worlds couldn’t possibly become any harsher than it is, but DeStefano made sure to prove readers wrong. In this trilogy, a “cure” for all human ailments in the first generation had caused a ticking time-bomb in future generations’ genetic make-up. Girls die at the age of 20, and boys die at the age of 25. As a result, the USA has become somewhat of a Third World Country where girls are being kidnapped, sold off to brothels and rich men, or those who don’t get picked to become either one will either end up in a ditch or be sold off to a scientist. That’s the way of life. It’s bad, but that’s how it is.

Enter Rhine Ellery, a sixteen year old girl who’s seen the good and the bad in the world, but has never been apart from her twin brother for long. She gets sold off to Linden Ashby to become a bride… One of his brides. Polygamy is not frowned upon in this futuristic world, because if they don’t keep the human race alive by reproducing, then that’s it. End of. Rhine meets her sister-wives, the ailing Rose, the gorgeous Jenna and the childish Cecily. Each of them has a reason to stay in this pretty prison, each of them has a purpose and a specific relationship with Linden, but all Rhine wants to do is escape and take Gabriel – her attendant – along.

I had a few problems with this book, especially when it came to the psychology and science behind the plot, but as far as the characterization, writing, and gripping nature of the book goes, I quite enjoyed it. DeStefano took a risk by adding in the polygamy thing, and I applaud her for it even though I don’t think that I could ever understand the time-share outlook in a marriage. I applaud her for the way she handled the human trafficking aspect. I applaud her for the child abuse aspect. Frankly, I applaud her for these books, because although all the themes knit together doesn’t happen in such a grand – terrible – way today, it’s important to know that every one of these themes are happening now anyway. It’s also important that YA writers enlighten young adults to the world that’s surrounding them. For that, I think I loved these books more than any other dystopian trilogy I’ve read thus far.

If you haven’t read The Chemical Garden Trilogy yet, you’re missing out on a lot of action. Anyone who liked Divergent, The Hunger Games, Uglies, The Selected, Matched, etc. will find enjoyment here. Just note, it’s a bit heavy at places, but in a good way.

(review originally posted on www.tentaclebooks.com) ( )
  MoniqueSnyman | Oct 3, 2019 |
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This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang. But a whimper. ~T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"
For my dad, who turned to me and said, "one day kid, you'll do great things."
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I wait.  They keep us in the dark so long that we lose sense of our eyelids.
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After modern science turns every human into a genetic time bomb with men dying at age twenty-five and women dying at age twenty, girls are kidnapped and married off in order to repopulate the world.

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