Wither, a somewhat unique novel set in the future of the United States, is about a girl named Rhine Ellery who lives in a world where technicalities with experimenting have led to girls mysteriously dying at the age of 20 and men at age 25. Rhine, who's sixteen, scrambles to survive in a neighborhood in Manhattan, where her twin brother and herself struggle to make ends meet by taking various factory jobs. When applying for another occupation, she is surprised to find that the people awaiting her are not business owners, but Gatherers, people employed to capture girls and sell them to House Governors so as to produce children and repopulate the world. Rhine is sent to live with a House Governor named Linden, who Rhine vows to be exacted revenge on, and while occupying the glorious mansions and its wide arrange of lush gardens, she spends her days looking for escape back to her brother. She spends her days with two other girls, who she calls her sister wives: Jenna, a girl of eighteen who is growing close to her dying date, and Cecily, a mere child at age 13. But escape is more complicated than Rhine could ever imagine. Vaughn, the cruel housemaster who punishes the people that disobey him easily, yet eager to find the antidote for the mysterious illness that has touched his children (he is a First Generation, meaning he still grows over the age of 25,) manipulates the household of this mansion so carefully that Rhine doesn't know who is to trust and who is faithful. When she meets the handsome servant Gabriel, she immediately accepts him as trustworthy. But will this harmless endeavor grow to something extremely dangerous?
Lauren DeStefano successfully creates an intricate balance of character development that blends raw human emotion with a deeper layer of personalities that are not so different from the way we are today. Her writing is pure and original, her touches of sensory detail almost poetic to the ears. Although I wouldn't call this one of my favorite books of all time, Wither came close to reaching that list. The premise is interesting and partly creative ( I kept comparing it to The Hunger Games, and I could find many similarities) but the way she pulls it off is totally different and extremely stylized and thoughtful compared to to other dystopian science fiction reads. The end left me at a cliffhanger but satisfied me for the time being. I will be waiting eagerly for the Chemical Garden Trilogy's next book!