Wither (Chemical Garden) - Lauren DeStefano
In this dystopian world life is hard - especially for young women. Unknown complications with genetic engineering has left the offspring of one generation, and consequently, all future generations with one major problem - a drastically reduced life span. Men die at twenty-five and women at twenty. Death isn't easy either. The person suffers from symptoms like coughing and vomiting blood.Young girls are at risk in this dark and dangerous world. They are abducted and taken to be sold to brothels or sometimes to wealthy men in need of heirs. Polygamy has become commonplace and it is uncommon to find a wealthy man with less than three wives.Rhine is in this exact position. Thrown into the back of a dark truck, she is driven far away from home only to be pulled out and forced to stand in a line up. Her and two other girls are chosen - for what she doesn't know. She considers herself lucky after hearing the gun shots ring out from the truck where the girls not chosen were taken.Rhine and the other two girls are taken to a wealthy estate and forced to become brides. Rhine fluctuates between being disgusted at the life she is forced to live and grateful that she has a kind husband and all the comforts a woman could want. What keeps Rhine determined to find a way out though is her brother. She has a twin and he is all alone - forced to survive on his own.Rhine must decide whether it is better to live a life of luxury even though she is forced to live as a prisoner so she can't escape or if she'd rather live and die on her own terms away from the mansion.DeStefano has created an interesting world. I enjoyed WITHER, but I wanted it to be better. For a dark dystopian world, we didn't get to see much of it. The beginning when Rhine was in the line up and a few of her flashbacks to being at home with her brother barely scraping by is all we see. Basically the entire novel takes place in the mansion where she lives with her new husband and two sister wives - Oh, and her CREEPY father-in-law (one of the genetically engineered generation that started the life span problem to begin with).As a friend said to me, it reminded her of a mix between THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams and THE COMPOUND by S.A. Bodeen. I completely agree with this comparison.