Wither by Lauren DeStefano
In the dystopian future created by first time novelist DeStefano, scientists have used genetic engineering to cure all the world’s diseases. The only problem is that after the first generation, all young men die at 25 years old and women die at 20. Although most people live in poverty in what’s left of the large metropolises, the wealthy still exist in private guarded estates, secluded from everyone except the other affluent. But they’re not exempt to the early death rate, so they hire “gatherers” to collect young women to marry to continue the human race. Rhine, who lives in Manhattan with her twin brother Rowan, is kidnapped by the gatherers and finds herself a prisoner in a mansion, about to be married along with two other girls to Linden Ashby, the weak twenty-year-old son of a rich scientist. But it is the father, Vaughn who really runs the family, intimidating the sister wives and servants, and lying to his son and the facts of their lives. In the midst of all this, Rhine remains determined to escape, and enlists the help of the servant Gabriel, for whom she’s beginning to feel more than simple friendship.
I enjoyed this book, and wished it had focused more on the society, how it came about and what people were doing to fight against the oppression. Since this is the first in the Chemical Garden Trilogy, I assume those aspects will be fleshed out in the next two volumes. The book did keep me thoroughly engaged, and I especially appreciated the way the author took her time developing most of the characters. I recommend this book to dystopia fans, Margaret Atwood fans, and science fiction readers.