Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human is a ticking time bomb…
Males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her. She has everything she ever wanted — except freedom. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape before it is too late.
My Review: This book opens with a rather terrifying scene, and it doesn’t really stop throughout the entire story. And I will admit that I have mixed feelings about it – not because it’s bad, but because it’s a future I can honestly see humanity succumbing to. The book itself is pretty good, it makes me think, and I don’t think I’ll ever complain about that.
I haven’t really read other dystopian novels, frankly I’m not terribly interested in seeing the wretchedness I know we as people are capable of, and that I believe we are only a few generations away from. In this world, women seem to mostly be viewed as disposable, valued only for their ability to bear children – which sounds sadly like the sort of life women had in the not so distant past.
The most frightening part of this, to me, is that I can very much see this genuinely happening if we were to face extinction as a race. As women, we have been looked on in this light for so much of our history, and I simply don’t trust men to continue recognizing us as they have if they don’t feel forced into it. And in a scenario where the human race is dying out, I fear the child bearing sex would be somewhat forced to do as the men want.
Much of this story also left me thinking about mortality in general, as it’s a little depressing to read about this type of world, where I and most of the people I care about would have been well expired. It’s simply sad to think of these lives ending before they’ve really had the chance to live. I think of how my own life has improved so much since I was twenty, and I mourn for these fictional girls who never have that shot.
All of that aside, our main character Rhine is a character I have a difficult time understanding. Maybe it’s a simplistic way for me to look at things, but wouldn’t it be better for Rhine to just tell someone in power about the life she had before, and ask them to look for her brother? If you know you’re dying in four years, wouldn’t you rather get your loved ones in your new found safer, wealthier situation? The world she comes from is described as such a bleak situation that I can’t really imagine myself wanting to go back to it.
However, there are two more books in this series, and I am pretty curious to see what will happen next, what this future really does hold. Will there be a cure for the virus? Will Rhine find her way back to the life she wants? And will that life be everything she hoped it would be?
Read this book if: You’re interested in dystopian or YA novels. I did enjoy this book and I want to see more of it!
My Rating: 4/5 – Borderline Amazing!
Full Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. This has not affected my review in any way. I was likewise not compensated for this review.