"Wither," the first book of Lauren DeStefano's "The Chemical Garden" trilogy takes place in the near future in a world that is not very bright. Medical science has created "the ultimate cure," which has created a world in which there is no more cancer or other known disease.
However, it also created a virus that leaves life for future generations a ticking time bomb. Because of this virus, males only live to age 25 and females to age 20.
In this world, many young girls are kidnapped by men known as Gatherers and are killed, sold into prostitution or married as a polygamous bride. The heroine of this story is a 16-year-old girl named Rhine Ellery, who is one of the many girls forced into a marriage in order to keep the population alive.
Rhine is now in Florida with her new husband, Linden Ashby, who loves her genuinely and whom she cannot hate. But even though she is now lives a life of wealth and privilege, all she wants to do is escape and return to her twin brother, Roman, in Manhattan.
Her sister wives include Cecily, a 13-year-old orphan who adores her new life as a wife, and Jenna, the eldest of the brides. Jenna hates Linden because she was separated from her sisters when she was caught by the Gatherers.
Vaughn Ashby, Linden's father and a first generation child unaffected by the virus, is one of the many geneticists searching for the cure, and he's willing to experiment on the brides and their children to do it. He is responsible for capturing the brides and for the many secrets that lay within the Ashby mansion.
This story has so many twists and turns. Plus, the description of that world's future is so believable it feels somewhat possible. Also, the book is set in a society that has reverted back to a time when women couldn't do anything, and the story lets us reflect that as women, our value is not just in our beauty but also in our intellect.
"Wither" is 368 pages of well-paced literature. It is dark, almost frightening and even haunting. It is an excellent read that I highly recommend.
The next book of the series, "Fever," is scheduled for release in February.