*I received this arc through Simon and Schuster....and boy am I grateful!*
Here's a quick plot summary for Wither in case you've been under a rock and not heard about the premise!!!
When scientists engineered genetically perfect children, everyone thought it would ensure the future of the human race. Though the first generation is nearly immortal, a virus causes all successive generations to die early: age 20 for women, 25 for men. Now, girls are kidnapped for brothels or polygamous marriages to breed children. Rhine is taken from her hardscrabble life and sold with two other girls to Linden Ashby. Though they live in a palatial Florida home surrounded by gardens and treated like royalty, the girls are sequestered from the outside world, and Rhine longs to escape. Her growing affection for her sister wives, her pity for Linden, and her fear of Housemaster Vaughn, Linden's manipulative father, keep her uncomfortably docile, until she falls for servant Gabriel.
I'll have to admit when I first started reading Wither, I wasn't sure exactly what to think of it. It hooked me in from the first chapter with a Dystopian edge...the next chapter moved into a more Historical novel feel. Then it yo-yoed between Dystopian, Sci-Fi, and Historical. While I do think there could have been a wee bit more development with the "world" of Wither, it didn't effect my appreciation of the story. In fact, it might have aided it a bit since we're just as clueless as Rhine is. I loved the aspect of "sister-wives" and a love quad, rather than triangle. It's just a different kind of book than I've read in a long time.
DeStefano has a great grasp of character development. Rhine is an easy MC to embrace, to have empathy for, and to want a better future for. I found myself rooting for her each time she got manipulative and devious, lol. There were times when I loathed Linden and others when I found myself very drawn to him. The evolving of Cecily's role as a Sister Wife, as well as Jenna's, was also very well done. I found myself really caring for these characters....there's an OMG moment where I had to fight my tears. There's also lots of roller coaster moments where you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat.
I'm totally stoked for the sequel!!!