In Rhine's world, men only live to the age of 25; women can only survive until 20. Rhine has been kidnapped, taken away from her twin brother and only surviving family member. She's been kidnapped to be sold as a polygamous bride to a rich man, a booming business in her dystopian world.
Her new life is pure luxury: a mansion with endless gardens, parties, makeup and diamonds and pearls, so different from her previous life. Her husband is kind and seems to honestly care for her; her sister-wives, Cecily and Jenna, are friendly and well-intentioned. But Rhine is miserable. The one thing she wants is the one thing she can't have: freedom.
Wither was... not what I expected. It was a lot slower and more thoughtful than I had anticipated. I ended up with fairly neutral feelings: I liked it okay, I didn't love it or hate it or really have much of an emotional reaction at all.
This is definitely a introspective story, not an action story. Basically the plot is Rhine's internal conflict. Besides said conflict, the story is kind of weak. There's a few major holes in the worldbuilding, among them that the virus was very implausible. Rhine's romance was abrupt-seeming, and didn't have a whole lot of development. Frankly I didn't want to know nearly as much about Cecily's pregnancy as was included in the book. Rhine's internal conflict was okay, but I expected a story with a little more things happing, as opposed to feelings, and I think I would have preferred it with a touch more action.
Wither is being called a "character driven story," and I can see why. It's definitely the characters that make the book. Rhine herself is decent, as a narrator, but I absolutely fell in love with the side characters. Jenna and Cecily, the sister-wives, were unique and really relatable, particularly Cecily. Cecily felt like somebody I could meet on the street or somebody I'd know from school. Linden was sweet, albeit remarkably oblivious. Destefano did an interesting job of capturing some of the complex feelings and emotions stemming from a polygamous marriage - particularly the thin line between cooperation and competition between the wives.
Although I didn't love Rhine's 'voice' as a narrator, I thought the description and dialogue and such were well done.
End Result: three stars. A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.