Reviewed by Elizabeth Talbott

Through genetic engineering, the new generation of children was practically impervious to disease. This new development caused people to stop having children naturally since the genetically modified ones were sure to be protected from disease. The first generation was the perfect picture of health. The next generation and all the others in the future had a limited lifespan (25 for men, 20 for women) because of a strange, incurable virus.

Rhine’s parents were trying to find a cure in their lab when they were killed. Civilization broke down: girls were being picked up off the street; orphans were dying of exposure and starvation; and Rhine and her twin brother were struggling to survive alone. Rhine went to donate bone marrow for some much needed money, but it was a ruse. She was captured by the Gatherers and sold to a rich man, Linden Ashby, as one of his three new wives.

Rhine’s new mansion was beautiful, but it was nothing more than a gilded cage to break out of. Can Rhine escape and lead the life she wants?

Dystopian novels have always had a way of catching my attention and not letting go until I finish the book. Wither was no different and the beautiful outside definitely matched the inside. I loved how the story just immersed me in this strange world and how the concept was both believable and chilling. I couldn’t imagine growing up thinking that I would die at 20. I could definitely understand the breakdown of society in the face of such a devastating virus that afflicted most of the population.

Despite the YA label, I like that Lauren DeStefano did not from the uncomfortable topics that come up. I was surprised that a mature topic like polygamous marriage was featured so prominently in a teen book, but I commend her for it. The dynamic between the three wives was compelling and at first, there was competition and jealousy. As they grew closer together, they became friends. Rhine had to choose between a rich, but sheltered, life with a man she doesn’t love or risk going into the unknown for a chance at happiness.

I truly enjoyed Wither. The only problem I had with this book was that the ending seemed a little too easy and convenient. Nevertheless, I will definitely be reading the second installment.

Rating: 4.5/5

Elizabeth is a student at Cal State Long Beach. She laughs a lot, loves cats, and lives for music and books. You can read her blog here: http://titania86-fishmuffins.blogspot.com/.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.