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Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

In a future where women live to just 20 years old and men to 25, young women are sought to become wives so they can have children before they die. Rhine is forced to marry Linden, along with two other girls and so her search for freedom begins.

I don’t know whether I just didn’t pay enough attention but I thought the backstory to Wither was a little vague. I couldn’t work out when people started dying so young and what exactly was being done about it. I felt like more could have been made about this issue but that isn’t really the focus of the book. In DeStefano’s world, the focus is Rhine and her sister wives and their relationships with their husband Linden. This is fair enough as it helps to make the book more plot-driven but it might have been cool to find out more about what was going on in America and to widen the scope of this novel. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Honestly? I could not and still can’t make my mind up about this book. I like the concept but wasn’t immediately hooked. However I definitely enjoyed it more as I went along and the plot seemed to be going somewhere even if the end did feel slightly rushed but very set up for the next book.

Linden was the most interesting character, if only because he was the most complex. (Gabriel, the love interest felt as flat as cardboard. He could be a good character but in terms of actual interaction he’s barely there in this book!) Linden was sinister at the start and then DeStefano wants us to feel sympathy for him so you have to assume he’s worth our pity which I guess he was in the end. He was a bit all over the place but I think it just about works. Also the living arrangements between the wives were a tad unorthodox and the fact that Cecily is meant to be 13 and become some sort of baby machine makes it all feel just a bit awkward. Again though, that’s just my opinion, it’s not something you read a lot about in YA literature, the multiple teen wives, so I guess that’s why it felt odd to me.

So yeah, a mixed review for a book I have mixed feelings about. Not very helpful I know, but I really can’t make my mind up about it! On paper it all sounds odd but I think it just about works and it definitely grew on me as I read more. Still undecided though…

Rating - *** 3 stars.

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