“By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.
When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?”
– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8525590-wither)
I added this book to my shelf on Goodreads a long time ago. In fact, it was number 16 on my to-read shelf (which has, at present, 408 books). But I only managed to get a copy and read it a couple of weeks ago. It was not one of those books where I kicked myself for not reading it sooner. It was an okay read.
There is an interesting world building, involving some catastrophic war and genetic manipulation gone terribly wrong. However, not many answers were given. We finish the book without really knowing the cause of the war (or maybe we did, and the reason didn’t stick with me) or why the genetic manipulation had the consequences it had, namely, people dying so young. And that was frustrating.
I’d think that, because people die so early, they’d live their lives in a reckless manner, which was not the case here. I’d be freaking out if I knew I only had four more years to live, as Rhine has. Instead, she seems quite content to just lounge around, doing nothing. As a heroine, I couldn’t really sympathize with her. As for Linden, I felt sorry for him, and that was it.
I’ll read the next book in the series in the hopes of learning more about the world building, which I found to be quite original.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5