Thursday, February 07, 2013

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I am reading a lot of teen novels right now as a member of the Georgia Peach Teen Book Award Committee. I have to admit that I am getting tired of books with white girls in long dresses on the cover and also of dystopian books in which everyone dies from mysterious viruses. This book covers all of those bases. In a future United States scientists have messed around with genetics enough to cause a big problem. Males only live to be 24 years old and females live to be 20 years old. When they reach those ages they succumb to a mysterious virus that is always deadly. Older people (called first gens) are trying to save humanity, partly by kidnapping young girls to be polygamous brides to wealthy young men. The idea is for the girls to have as many babies as possible before dying at age 20. The main character of this book is Rhine, who has been kidnapped and made one of the three wives to a wealthy young man named Linden. She wants to hate him but it's really his father who is the evil one. Linden is rather weak and oblivious to his father's character, but treats his wives well. Rhine and her "sister wives" are pampered and live a privileged life, but Rhine is biding her time until she can escape and go in search of the twin brother she left behind. Fortunately, she connects with a servant named Gabriel and they plan to escape together. It was not a bad book, but the predictable plot did not make it stand out above all of the other similar dystopian books being published these days.

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