As I was saying in a recent book post about the YA genre, I was ready for something a bit more original. And I found it!

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano, takes place in the future USA, and something has gone terribly wrong. Aside from the “first generation,” females only live to be 20-years-old, and males to 25-years-old thanks to some sort of genetic virus. Orphans are abundant, and there is a race to prevent extinction by mating early to produce offspring. The Gatherers kidnap young women as potential brides in polygamous marriages. Rhine Ellery, a 16-year-old, is captured and separated from her twin brother Rowan.

She and two other chosen girls are taken to a mansion far from her home in New York and are married to House Governor Linden, a 21-year-old man. Rhine tries to earn his trust by playing nice and she eventually gets the title of “first wife.” Although she has not consummated the marriage, her 13-year-old sister wife is already pregnant. And Rhine is beginning to have conflicting emotions regarding her husband captor. Linden’s father, a first generation man, is a doctor and scientist and claims to be constantly working on an antidote for the virus, but he only has four years left to save his son.

Rhine finds an ally in a servant boy, Gabriel, and begins to have feelings for him. She shares her plans of escape and insists that he come with her. But if they are caught, it could very well cost them their lives…or worse.

I’m definitely eager to discover what happens next in this story, and if Rhine will have a happy rest of her life, or if there will somehow be an antidote that will allow her to live beyond the ripe old age of twenty. Maybe it’s because I just haven’t discovered any other YA books with this premise yet, but I found the concept and plot to be like a breath of fresh air, especially considering the other books I’ve read lately that all seem like basically repeats of one another. I’m looking forward to Fever, the second book in The Chemical Garden series, which is scheduled to be released in February 2012.