Libby's Reviews > Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
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This is much more story than I anticipated after reading the blurb. Our heroine is growing up in a world where genetic tampering has gone horridly wrong. Gene engineering intended to prolong life has done so for the First generation, but their offspring have paid a terrible price. Males die at age 25, females last until age 20. Climate change has drowned much of the world, but wealthy First Gens have used their wealth, power and access to technology to insulate themselves and their families. They employ Gatherers to steal young women as "brides" to insure that humanity will not die out before someone finds a cure. Our viewpoint character, Rhine, is one such unwilling bride. Stolen from her Manhattan home and twin brother, she finds herself on a luxurious Florida estate of Householder Vaughn. She and two other girls are to be married to his only son, Linden. Rhine sees clearly that Vaughn is ruthless and deadly, but quickly learns that Linden is an innocent, lost in mourning the death of Rose, his First Wife. Rhine's best chance to escape and return to her twin is to become Linden's favorite and obtain his trust. Her sister wives have their own issues and Rhine finds that her only friend is the attendant, Gabriel. Soon she begins to feel more than simple friendship for Gabriel, while at the same time she is developing real caring for her sister wives and compassion for Linden. There is a great deal of complex characterization in this story, done with skill and flair. The same skill and flair moves the story forward. The plot is more complex than I can reveal without spoilers, and I can only say that I will be haunting my local bookseller until the next volume of this proposed trilogy comes out.
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