Time. There never seems to be enough of it. But imagine a limited amount of time to live. (Side note – Don’t be gettin’ all sassy with me about how “Duh! Of course we only have a limited amount of time to live.” I know this. But just hold your Captain Obvious Tightie-Whitees for a moment.) And, in addition to having a limited amount of time to live, you also know that you are going to bite the dust when you’re 20 (for females) or 25 (for males). You’re withering. I mean, it’s bizarre, right? Well, this is precisely what takes place in Wither. (See what I did there?)
In an attempt to cure of the world of such debilitating diseases, like cancer, the oh so smart people of the world make the perfect human … in a tube. These tube babies have heightened immune systems that can fight off cancer without any additional medicinal help. However, nature does not like these “fake” people. Or at least it seems that way, because any children that these tube people had (good ol’ fashioned birds and the bees style) would die at 20 or 25. And this trait is heritable. So, now there is a world of ticking death sentences. And to make matters more ghastly, girls are now seen as little baby making factories, because we cannot let the human species die out! Yay. It’s like the female rights movement never happened in this book. But, and bear with me here as I build up the many atrocities that exist in this book like cake layers, since there is such a limited amount of time for people to live, girls are being kidnapped off the street to become said baby making machines. *gasp of complete and utter indignity* Er, I mean brides.
It is through this rather bleak setting though that DeStefano gives the young adult genre a rather fascinating character that really reminds me of Katnis from The Hunger Games. Our main protagonist’s name is Rhine, and she is one of the most complex characters I have read in a young adult novel. She is kidnapped from her home and taken to become a bride of a young gent known as Governor Linden. And considering all that happens to her during this kidnapping process she stays rather calm when she finally wakes up from her drug induced nap. And she retains this calm exterior (because she sure as shit is not calm on the inside) throughout the entire novel. Can we give this girl some applause? Because if I was kidnapped, drugged, then forced to entire a polygamous marriage (Did I forget to mention there’s polygamy? My bad, there’s polygamy.) with a cutely oblivious young gent who has a King of Creep/Legit Mad Scientist for a father …. well. I would most definitely NOT be calm.
But moving on from admirable zen qualities. I want to talk about Rhine as a realistic female protagonist. Realistic because she truly struggles with every decision she makes. There is the major choice that serves as her motivation for all her other choices – she doesn’t struggle with that choice. But, it’s all the smaller choices – when to give in to little things so that she can gain the trust of her husband, when to start letting herself feel for her fellow sister wives (who were also kidnapped), when to let herself feel for husband – that portray a character that is human. Really human. This is why I compared her to Katniss Everdeen.
Katniss has a deep convictions about what is right wrong, and she fights for them throughout all three of the novels. Rhine also has deep convictions about the traits and actions that are very wrong in her immediate world, but she also realistic enough to realize she has to a play a game of sorts in order to achieve her master plan. But, being the raw human that she is, she hits speed bumps and giant pit wholes along the way that encourage her to take a step back and really analyze what’s going on and if she is starting to believe her own lies.
And to top if all off, this girl is 16. But damn, when you only live till 2o, you grow up quick.
P.S. – if y’all ever see grammar errors, don’t be a turd and make fun of them. Point them out to me so I can fix them. 🙂 Thanks dolls!