Erica's Reviews > Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
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Mar 21, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: dystopias, future-fiction, mysterious-disease, sci-fi, survival, ya, teen-pregnancy, women-and-girls
Read in May, 2011

I absolutely loved this book! As I was finishing it, I got all depressed because I wanted more and knew I'd have to wait for the second book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy and who knows how long that will take!

I think a current trend must be to write about future societies that "encourage" teen pregnancy; I just put myself on hold for Bumped by Megan McCafferty which has a similar "teens get pregnant because adults can't anymore" plot. In the case of Wither, though, it's not that adults can't get pregnant; it's that no one really becomes an adult. The premise: through clever genetic coding, perfect people were created in test tubes and the first generation of these people turned out quite well. From what I could tell, they don't even die of old age, at least not in their 60's and 70's. The problem, though, is that the First Generation's children, who are also disease-free and resistant to the normal ailments of the human body, mysteriously die at 20 (women) and 25 (men). First generation scientists are working furiously to correct this problem but in the meantime, the only way to continue the human race is for teenagers to have children either with each other or via the First Generation (hello, Hugh Heffner!). As you might imagine, this leads to a lot of orphans, what with parents dying off by age 25. Also resulting is the practice of wealthy families procurring brides for their young sons. This story follows the trials of one such bride, kidnapped to be one of three sister wives to a 21-year-old scion.
I was fascinated by the story because it touches upon something I (irrationally) find horrific - forced child-bearing. I was pretty much traumatized after reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood as a mid-teen; it completely freaked me out. When I read it again as a college student, it still freaked me out. The movie didn't help. So, obviously, there's something buried deep within my psyche that makes this particular topic my own personal little train wreck. It's ghastly but I can't look away. Wither is a sort of Disney-fied version of Atwood's story.

I've complained a lot lately about poor writing, bad editing, miserable plots full of inconsistencies, lack of character depth and the rest of the rigamarole which sets me off. I have none of those complaints with this book. I found it well-written, engaging, and believable. It made sense, it followed a logical path, I could understand the characters, there were no gaping holes or missing parts. I tore through this book in a week (which is like reading something in an afternoon to most people) and am eagerly (desperately) awaiting the next installment.

Among many others, I would recommend this story to those who liked the dystopian aspects of the Hunger Games trilogy.
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