By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking 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 kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. 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 is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.
Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?
Wither is an incredible introduction to the Chemical Garden Trilogy, the world Lauren DeStefano created was intense and vivid. I admit that as a mother it was hard for me to relate to some of the subject matter, especially when it came to young Cecily. But that still did not make this book any less enjoyable for me, in fact I devoured more than three-quarters of the book in one sitting. The characters were all unique and I instantly bonded with Rhine. The loving relationship between the “sister wives” truly captured my heart, and although it began grudgingly, they quickly discovered that without each other life would be almost unbearable.
The society Rhine lives in is harsh and unrelenting; you can try to prolong it but there is no escaping the deadly virus. When Rhine is kidnapped to become a “bride,” she resents everyone and everything, but her “husband” makes it hard to despise him because of his honest innocence. Her husband knows nothing of where she came from and who she left behind, but his father knows everything and is willing to sacrifice anything to find a cure to save his son. Rhine dreams of escaping, but to do that she must earn the trust of everyone in the household, but what she doesn’t plan on is falling for a member of the staff, and the betrayal that will lead to the death of someone close to her.