When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
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Read an Excerpt
we lose sense of our eyelids. We sleep huddled together
like rats, staring out, and dream of our bodies swaying.
I know when one of the girls reaches a wall. She begins
to pound and scream—there’s metal in the sound—but
none of us help her. We’ve gone too long without speaking,
and all we do is bury ourselves more into the dark.
The doors open.
The light is frightening. It’s the light of the world
through the birth canal, and at once the blinding tunnel
that comes with death. I recoil into the... see more
Reading Group Guide
ABOUT THE BOOK
Rhine Ellery is sixteen years old and has four years to live. She was born into a genetically engineered world in which an attempt to perfect the species and make people immune to all disease has shortened human lifespan: A virus now kills women at the age of twenty and men at the age of twenty-five. Desperate to extend the family lineage, powerful families force young women into polygamous marriages. Rhine is one of three new brides who are held captive, but lavishly cared for, in a sprawling mansion. The three wives—Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily—live in a rich and seemingly perfect world filled with beautiful clothes, wonderful foods, and lush gardens. But danger lurks around the corner when Rhine develops a relationship with a house servant, Gabriel, and starts to suspect that her father-in-law is conducting mysterious research in the basement of the mansion in the name of finding an antidote. Rhine’s best chance of escaping is to win her husband Linden’s favor as his first wife and, together with Gabriel, plot her getaway.
How might society be different if scientists could create a generation of human beings immune to all disease? Would such a world be ideal? Why or why not?
Rhine is snatched off the streets by Gatherers and wakes up in a satin bed in a mansion owned by a House Govern see more
Behind the Book
Behind the Book piece
Behind the Book:
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
The story behind the story for Wither is . . . there isn’t one. I was holed up in bed with the flu when I started writing it, and as the sniffles and coughs subsided, I may have called out of work sick for the rest of the month so that I could keep writing uninterrupted. The more I wrote, the more Rhine’s world appeared around me, and before I knew it, I had a first draft in less than a month. I didn’t write Wit