What if you knew exactly when your would die? Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking genetic time bomb- males only live to age twenty-five, and females only to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one perupose: to escape- to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiemtns. Withthe help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
(Description from inside cover)
I know that this isn't a science book, but the lack of such really upset me. I mean, somehow the entire world got bombed, polar ice caps melted, and the United States is still around? New York City, Florida, and cities in California are mentioned, but wouldn't even be there if what is described in the book is true. And also, how is it that people die at age 20-25, but young teenagers are not only expected to have healthy pregnancies and babies, but actually do (well, except for the die at 20-25 thing)? A little more clarification on those things would've been nice.
A lot of Rhine's beliefs in this book are presented as truths, but she has a horrible time convincing me of things. I didn't believe her when she said her husband was the one who kidnapped her and killed girls, even when she did for most of the book. I don't believe her when she says she fell in love with this one boy who she barely seems to know. I don't believe her when she says being free is ideal, because all of her flashbacks of her past life and brother seem pretty negative. All of these make her come off as very naive, despite her mature voice.
The ending was also a bit... confusing. If Whither was a stand-alone book, and not in a series, I would have totally bought it and it would've been great. It wrapped up so nicely. But knowing that there's a sequel just confuses me, and I hope the next book doesn't feel stretched or forced.
I really like the cover, as to many of those who read Whither, but I feel alone in the fact that I don't "get" it. Yeah, I see the birdcage and the wedding ring, that much is clear. It's more with the fact that the chill girl on the cover looks more like a model for an Alexander McQueen photoshoot than a child desperate to escape. Nope, she's just taking a snooze. No urgency here.
I really enjoyed Destefano's writing style though, and she has a lot of beautiful, vivid imagery in here. Her words painted a clear picture to me, for the most part, of Rhine's world. The language is very poetic and lovely.
All in all, it is very much like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, though Wither has a bit more angst to it's shock factor.
(Amazon - Goodreads)