- Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schusters Children's Publishing
Wither is a dystopian YA book, set in a post-apocalyptic world where only North America has survived (guess the nationality of the author!). The human race is left battling against a terrible, genetically created virus that kills every man at the age of 25, and every woman at the age of 20. In order to keep humanity alive teenage girls are often captured from their homes, and married off to become, essentially, baby-making machines.
One of these abducted teens is Rhine, a 16-year-old feisty blonde, who is torn away from her male twin and married, with two other abductees, to Linden – a sweet, deluded, rich 21-year-old, who is grieving the death of his first wife, and true love. Battling to hold on to the memory of who she is and where she came from, Rhine refuses to accept her virtual imprisonment, especially as Linden’s father Vaughan (one of the only older people left alive)is a shadowy, secretive scientist seeking a cure for the virus by any means necessary.
Rhine forms a strong, wonderfully believable bond with her ‘sister wives’ despite her refusal to accept their situation, and her interactions with Vaughan inject a strong sense of peril into the novel. The world that has survived is familiar enough to sit easy within the story, yet wonderous enough for us to share in Rhine’s awe at the life the remaining rich people live.
It’s not all perfect though – a lot of questions are left unanswered, and not always in a good way! Why Rhine never chooses to enlighten Linden as to his father’s true nature is beyond me, as is the murder of unwanted brides. The love triangle that develops is totally believable for once branch, but perplexing for the other. I also have to admit, I really don’t like, or get, the cover-art. All in all though an excellent start to The Chemical Garden trilogy, and one I shall be continuing with.
One for fans of Divergent and The Forest of Hands and Teeth, 8 out of 10.