March 22nd 2011
Harper Voyager (UK)
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live 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 purpose: 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 experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
Wow. Wither was such a great book. Really. My expectations of it had been pretty high in the first place, but something had been keeping me from reading it until now, and I don't know why I put it off for so long because it was really amazing.
The writing of the book was so beautiful. I haven't read a book this well written in what feels like ages. It was kind of slow, but in that sort of good way that makes you want to savour it, and the pace suited it all perfectly because it isn't an action book. It's a book that takes place over a fairly long period of time (especially considering the whole everyone dies at 20/25 thing) and it's not really about what happens, but about the people and the relationships they form with each other. And I kind of loved it and hated it for that because I got to know all the characters so well and then bad things happened and why can't characters just be 2-d so that I can either love them or hate them! (Not really, make characters as 3-d as possible please. As much as I say otherwise, I love all the angst I get from characters with personalities.)
Rhine, I thought, was really interesting. She was a really strong heroine, but in that different way. She wasn't an action heroine or anything, she wasn't your regular Katniss Everdeen or anything, but she was really emotionally and mentally strong. The thing that happened to her was truly awful, and I liked the fact that she was such a realist. She was just really down to earth and I think she reacted how most people would, making her really relatable as well. And she also stuck to her guns. She may have come to like Linden and everything, but she could see that she wasn't happy, and she wasn't going to be happy, so she acted on that.
I think that out of all the Brides though, I liked Jenna the most. I don't know why, but I think she was the most realistic about it all out of all three of them. Also, despite her dryness and general misery at her predicament, she was nice, and she did what she could to help Rhine. I think the relationship between the three of them (Rhine, Jenna and Cecily) was the most interesting to read about out of all of them, and I was more interesting in their interactions than I was with the romance. I felt really bad for Cecily, especially towards the end, mainly because she was just so clueless about everything, but ignorance is bliss, I guess.
And the love interests! I'll be honest with you, I really thought that the relationship between Gabriel and Rhine could've been developed a lot more, but I did see where it was coming from so I guess it was okay, and I think it was good to have a lot of the focus on Linden so that we could realise that he's actually really lovely and I felt so bad for him being stuck in the house! He was just as trapped as everyone else, only he doesn't know it, and I don't think he ever will.
But Vaughn. Ewwww. I hated him. Genuinely, completely and utterly hated him. He's one of the slimiest, cruelest, most horrible characters, he really is. The fact that he thinks what he's doing is good, and that all of the horrible things he's done can be justified. And that Cecily never even picked up on his overall dodginess. And his fake smiles at dinner, and just thinking of him makes me get the heebie-jeebies. Okay, I'm hoping the nonsensicalness of that paragraph just helps in getting me feelings across instead of making me look like and insane, illiterate cretin or something.
One thing I couldn't over look while reading it, though, was it's similarities to the The Handmaid's Tale. It has to have been influenced by it somehow, because it really did feel like reading a YA version of it with, like, more teenagers and less pro-creation. But that isn't really a bad thing because The Handmaid's Tale is a book I really liked, and I enjoyed the similarities. Anyway, they felt less similar as the book went on and became it's own.
Yeah, sorry about this beast of a review, I just had a lot to say! Wither is a really great book, written beautifully and with excellent characterisation. It'll twist you up and make you feel bad for characters you never thought you'd feel sorry for, and it's just a really good, different dystopian from all of the action-packed ones there are floating about. I'm so glad I have a copy of Fever lying around so I can get to it soon!