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Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

April 27, 2011

Sidenote: the flu makes it hard to keep up with review writing.  i apologize.  And i missed you.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Sooooo pretty, right?

The premise: It is the future. . . somewhere along the line scientists figured out how to make catalog babies (you know so you can design your perfect child and there are no flaws whatsoever.) However it backfired and now men live to 25 years old and women to 20.  Because of this there is a push for lots of baby making so there are still people to populate the planet.  This of course means lots of little girls having babies and polygamous marriages (you know so there are more chances of babies popping out.)  Girls are kidnapped and sold into these marriages. . . this is the story of one of them.

Let me start by telling you how much i love The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Like, gushing, drooling, incoherent babbling love.

Wither is very similar in many ways.  And right now, i loved it too.  i say right now because it is part of a trilogy so i suppose Lauren DeStefano could break my heart somewhere in the next two books.  i don’t think it will happen but i suppose if Jewel can do it. . .

The thing about Wither (and The Handmaid’s Tale) is that they aren’t happy fluffy books.  There are parts that are painfully uncomfortable. . . there are parts that made me want to stop reading- because of content not writing.  And a lot of it just makes me sad and worried about the world.  However, it is because of these things that i think these books are SO SO SO important.  Without books like these Rhine would be like Cecily (one of her sister wives) happily submitting to her fate as an incubator.  Without books like these we wouldn’t question when to stop with science experiments.  And don’t get me wrong it’s a fine line to walk. . . . if it’s okay to figure out how to manipulate DNA to get rid of things like Lou Gehrig’s disease or cancers or other terrible things, what harm could it do to figure out how to manipulate the colour of the hair of your unborn child?  And on and on and on.  These are important questions and discussions and i think books like Wither and The Handmaid’s Tale help get the going.

They also fuel discussions about a woman’s role in life and society.  As readers, we often ask ourselves many of the same questions the characters ask- Rhine is in a constant state of questioning everything around her and inside her.  Some of these are questions most of us will never have to answer in actuality- most of us (i wish i could say all with certainty) will not be kidnapped and forced into a polygamous marriage.  But we all have difficult choices to make as far as family and what that word means and how it changes as our life changes.  Relationships, duties as a person, or a daughter, or a sister, or a wife, or a friend.  These are not easy questions and they don’t come with easy answers.

Lauren DeStefano did an awesome job presenting these questions and some answers.  Like i said one of the things i like most about this book is the harshness of it. . . not everything is what you want it to be.  Rhine finds the same thing and it is so compelling to read.  We get to watch Rhine play a game to get to her desired goal- freedom.  But then Rhine gets lost in the game at times and we as readers find ourselves facing the same confusions wondering if people we thought were terrible awful people really are or if they too are just caught in a situation that leaves them trying to survive too.  It has been interesting to hear people online talk about being Team Linden or Team Gabriel because at first glance you would think there would only be one option.  i also loved the distinct personalities of the three Sister Wives.  Jenna, Rhine, and Cecily are characters that i feel like i can point out in real life.  There are so many girls who can be easily placed into those categories and it’s a little scary.

The writing is lovely. . . hard to tell this was a debut.  i can’t recommend it enough.  Not only was it a great read i think it is an important one and i can’t wait to see what happens next.

Have you read Wither?  Other books like it?  What did you think?

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