I picked up this book shortly after I saw it as a favorite for a lot of people and honestly, the cover would’ve gotten my attention alone.
It’s the distant future and the world is dying. Genetic mutations have left the human lifespan to a mere twenty-five years for males and twenty for females. A desperate world where girls as young as thirteen are taken by Gathers to be sold off to wealthy men to become wives and bare children- a hope to keep the human race alive.
Rhine is one of those girls. At the age of sixteen she was kidnapped by Gathers, drugged and kept prisoner as a new bride to Linden Ashby. Fortunately, she’s not submissive to her new life and she secretly plans to escape her lavish cage and return home to Manhattan where she hopes her twin brother awaits her.
While perfecting her plan, she becomes close to her two sister wives, an attendant named Gabriel and even her new husband who, as many things here, is not what they seem. At times she’s torn between her desire for freedom and her devotion to those she cares for, but she’s a strong character that will not sway from her determination.
There was a point when I thought I might find this book a little though to read- the youngest sister wife, Cicely, at age thirteen is so eager and willing to bare children and there’s talk of death that’s sometimes taken so lightly. But it’s because of this that makes the story to engaging. I know there’s still places in this world where children are married off and places where death comes more naturally than eating.
I’m glad this story didn’t sugarcoat this world, but I’m sure it was because we saw this world through Rhine’s eyes which is probably how most people who read this would see it. There were times when her new life doesn’t seem all too bad- clothes made just for her, attendants tending to her every need and lavish parties. Though Rhine is too determined to let these illusions of happiness break her and I’m really grateful that she always reminds herself of that.
I can go into a bit of a rant about how some reviews bashed this book by saying it was “unrealistic” and “disgusting” (referring mainly to Cecily’s pregnancy), but I will only say that those arguments are ridiculous. I don’t expect any story set seventy years in the future to be “realistic” and I certainly don’t expect a world with mostly kids NOT to have sex.
This is simply the world Rhine lives in.
Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Rating: 5/5 stars