We are directly thrown into the story of Rhine, who is captured with two other young women, Jenna and Cecily, to please a rich doctor's son, always locked away in a gigantic house surrounded by an even larger garden.
There are only a few different characters, nonetheless their possible reactions to each other are always unpredictable.
Rhine felt like a very authentic character to me, really easy to get acquainted with. She is not only exceptional in looks, but also differs emotionally from her kidnapped co-brides. I like her name, Rhine, originating from the European river, lets always associations pop up in my head, because I cross this river almost every day, quiet funny.
DeStefano has a talent to portray exceptional characters full of contrasts. Rhine and her fellow bride sisters couldn't be more different. Jenna is special for her compassion and loyalty, Cecily for her childish and naïve personality.But beside these innocent young girls, there are also cruel and malicious characters that cause great conflicts.
Wither offers many different types of love stories, although the major romance might develop between Rhine and Gabriel. Still that doesn't keep me from analysing other relationships between our given characters and questioning their morals.
We get to know our characters very well, relationships are featured, but a general love story comes off badly. I realize that under the given circumstances a grand and romantic love story between Rhine and Gabriel is not really possible or inappropriate and so I hope for deeper insights in their thoughts and feelings in Wither's sequel.
All characters are always circling around one setting and the other characters. Over almost the whole novel not much happens and I rather see Wither as a character study, like an initial experiment that has potential to lead to larger events and purposes in its sequel. Probably the action is hold back so that the main focus lies on the characters and the dystopian world.
The setting and even actions are limited, the pace is rather slow. Sometimes we get glimpses of Rhine's life back in freedom, how she lived with her twin brother (who has become one of my favourite characters without even meeting him), but that is not enough to still my desire to explore Wither's world.
Wither is set in a dystopian world, futuristic... and sick. All its new inventions and beautiful illusions cannot hide the fact that humanity's situation is a sad one. Men only got a life expectation of 25 years, women 20 years. That idea is thrilling, adds urgency to the character's actions and is scary at the same time.
I always wondered how the story is supposed to develop with such a limited time span to develop actions, as our protagonist is 16-years-old, she has got four years left till she dies a painful death. Furthermore thinking of all the possibilities for our human race and that I would already be dead in such a world made me really sad.
Although DeStefano didn't make me turning page after page restlessly, she had me emotionally involved.
Wither's world is a super interesting construct that leaves many possibilities for future events. There is science and medical research involved, really interesting disciplines. No hard violence, sex or drugs are discussed, still this novel felt like a heavy read, because it deals with the social morals of our present society in comparison with Wither's society. Polygamy, kidnapping and stealing from the dead are regular topics.
A great part of Wither is about constructing its new futuristic world by establishing several moral and ethical discourses.
I give it 3,5/5 stars.
Lauren DeStefano builds a flamboyant world, whose little inventions and conveniences kept me entertained all the time. Wither is a debut with a promising world and striking main character that leaves room for hope for a more action-packed and romance-centred sequel.show more