Rating: 4/5 stars.
“But now an eerie silence fills the floor. It’s the silence I imagine in the rest of the world, the silence of an endless ocean and uninhabitable islands, a silence than can be seen from space.”
Is that not such a pretty passage? I’ll admit that when the members of my school’s book club voted Wither as our first book to be read, I was a tad disappointed. I assumed it would be an averagely-written, run-of-the-mill dystopian novel. But Lauren DeStefano exceeded my expectations, especially with her writing – it’s fluid and flows well, and the book contains some straight up beautiful writing.
Wither possesses several potential plot pitfalls. A dystopian novel in which women live to the age of 20 and men live to age of 25, it also includes polygamy, rape, child pregnancy, etc. While some individuals may have found this material offensive, I thought that DeStefano did a decent job of showing what was necessary and leaving the rest to readers’ imaginations. The story itself is fast-paced and action-filled to the point where I wanted to read it despite my massive amount of homework, and there are several themes I cannot wait to discuss in book club: Stockholm syndrome, the role of technology and medicine in society, the possibility of polygamy, etc.
Wither remains far from flawless, however. The biggest fault I found while reading was the poor world-building. It never solidified the setting in a way that made it really real – there is no foundation for this book’s premise present in contemporary society. There were a few events that stood out saliently as plot devices, and they detracted from the quality of the story.
You can tell from my rating that in this case, the pros outweighed the cons. While not everyone will enjoy Wither, I’m betting that a large percentage of the
teenaged female overall population will.