Destefano conjours a world where a disease has made it so that men die aged 25 an women die aged 20. So for 16-year-old Rhine Ellory, there isn't too much time left.
Rhine has been captured by gatherers and is sold on as a bride to House Governor Linden. All she wants to do now is escape back to the life she came from, escaping this life of luxury that others can only dream of. But she has reason to. She left someone behind.
Wither and Fever are both wonderful. Full of beautiful imagery and dangerous thoughts. Sometimes they moved at a slow pace, but this didn't mean they weren't riddled with suspense and danger.
The themes are all the usual - love, life, loss, friendship in unlikely places. But it includes other, more adult themes like hardship, trust, family life and relationships, polygamy and death. It leaved you thinking about it afterwards (always a sign of a good book).
But a major theme is time. It's at the very heart of the books. There's always a sense of urgency, even when things are slow-moving. In fact, it's even worse when the narrative is slow-moving. The imagery and descriptions are stunning. I can easily imagine the places described, whether it be luxury or disease-ridden. They flourished inside my head.
I guess this is a modern, younger version of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. (Which I have read). It has some similar themes, and some not quite so similar. I'll let you decide really.
I loved Rhine, but did think at times she was a bit silly. Some things weren't as obvious to her as I thought they should have been. But she never failed me with her bravery. The character is generally wonderful, and her voice shines through. I also very much liked Gabriel. His apparent meekness reminded me quite a lot of Peeta from 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins (which I will review eventually). You could tell he had inner strength and a rebellious side, just like Peeta. Now, Peeta is one of my two favourite characters from The Hunger Games. So this must be very good.
If you like The Hunger Games, you may well like this too.
Now, I've read other reviews with people hating this book. and this is because of the premise. The whole 'girls being sold as wives to procreate' thing. But I honestly don't see the problem. Sure, the world is a little flimsy, but the actual story is good.I think nit-picking will only make you think about what's wrong with the ideas and not what it's really about, which are the themes.
All I can say really is that they were bothy thrilling, suspenseful, romantic at times and made you really think about the concepts in the book - such as death and time, and what you would have done in their situation.
I think that this dystopian is a great book for teens, young adults and adults alike, and I'm giving it 4.5/5 stars.
The final book, Sever will be out in 2013. And I'm looking forward to it.
Lauren Destefano's Page.
Wither on Goodreads.com- other reviews.