Wither- Book one of The Chemical Gardens Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano From the Book Jacket: What if you knew exactly when you would die? Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking genetic time bomb - males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and priviledge. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape - to find her twin brother and go home. But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left. **** I've been wanting to read this book for some time and this week it was handed to me in a store - a present from a friend. I do love presents! So, of course as all children do with their new found toys, I ignored everything else until I was finished devouring this book. Wither is told from the first person perspective of Rhine Ellery. At 16 she is taken by the Gatherers and forced to become a wife, along with two other girls (ages 18 and 13). Throughout the story you hear what life was like for Rhine and her twin brother after their parents are killed and you begin to wonder if her new life - the one where she is kidnapped and forced to marry against her will - is actually better than the one she was living. You almost think that, and then through Rhine you realize everything in her new life is just an illusion and what lies beneath is too scary to contemplate. I was completely enamored with the characters and their plights. From the dying Rose to the little girl Cecily who wanted to be a wife and mother so bad to Jenna, the girl who simply waited to die, you are drawn into these characters through Rhine. They are the story as much as the main character is. Through them you understand what it must be like to be so young and yet nearing the end of your life span. The world Lauren DeStefano has created is so disturbing you want to look away, and yet you can't because you become invested in her characters. They are so real in their flaws, hopes, dreams, and despair. It's not just the characters themselves that captivate. It's the world with all its illusions and the seemingly broken planet that is possibly waiting for humanity to die off that draw you in and demand a little of your attention along the way too. This book simply leaves you at a point where you can be hopeful for some of the characters and at the same time wonder what if? I am personally hoping that my "what ifs" are answered soon with the second book in the trilogy, Fever. Apparently, I will be waiting until February 2012 though. ~SIGH! More information about The Chemical Gardens Trilogy can be obtainedHERE!