I decided to read Lauren DeStefano’s “Wither” because I received “Fever”, the second novel in her “Chemical Garden Trilogy”, courtesy of Simon & Schuster. Wither starts off with a bang. Rhine, a New Yorker in the distant future, is kidnapped and thrown into a van. It’s the future and boys live till 25 while girls only reach 20. There are no diseases, no illnesses but everyone dies in their twenties and no one knows why.
DeStefano’s future is also polygamous. The pretty ones, like Rhine, are often kidnapped at an early age and made into a “sister wife” in attempts to continue the human race. Rhine finds herself launched into a life of glamour only to be forceably married to Linden Ashby, the son of millionaire Vaughn (“Housemaster Vaughn”) who is researching for a cure to save the young ‘uns. Two other girls face the same fate. The ugly girls are killed or forced into prostitution. I’m not sure if it’s more or less comforting to know that even as the human race dies off, women are still judged based on appearances!
Rhine, like any kidnappee and New Yorker (stuck in Florida, no less), wants desperately to get home. Linden Ashby is a dull character. While he begins with a sinister presence, he slowly becomes the boring heartbroken boy. Instead, it is Vaughn that takes the cake for being super creepy. In fact, the whole novel just oozes eeriness. While the setting is also beautiful, it’s always unsettling because much like their marriages, the Ashby’s castle is not quite right. The relationship that develops between the young “sister wives” is intricate and unpredictable as well.
Overall, Wither is one of the best novels I’ve read all year. It’s a heart-racing adventure and a story about friendships that stick as opposed to the fraudulent ones. I can’t wait to read Fever – which will be out on February 21, 2012. Stay tuned for the review!