First Impressions of Wither

Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)I’m about 4 chapters into Wither by Lauren DeStefano and I feel like writing a mini review for what I’ve experienced so far. More to follow of course!

The novel starts off darker and more disturbing than I expected, which I realize is naive of me having read on the blurb on the back.

“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. “

Of course a book with that plot is going to be disturbing, but the gritty realism is almost too much for me.  The first chapter left me feeling like this should be an adult book about young characters, not a book for teens. The age of the character is often used to determine where a book is placed, but this isn’t always right. I actually think the target age group here should be emerging adults, the term I’ve heard used to describe 19-30 year olds who are still in the transition between being a teen and being an adult. Some people skip the emerging adult stage and go right into full-fledged adult hood, with their careers and kids, but there’s a big group who stay students into their mid-twenties (yea that’s me), live with their parents longer, or have  a wild party lifestyle that they plan to settle down from eventually. I think these emerging adults, who would be dead already in the world Wither presents are the ones who will be most fascinated and horrified by it. 

The way the servants are there to make the young kidnapping victims look good for their future husband/captor and spend their time fussing with her hair and clothes reminds me of the Hunger Games. Her mixed feelings for these ladies and children are reminiscent of Katniss’ view of her prep team.

I like that all of the kidnapped girls respond differently to the trauma. Becoming ill, angry or depressed are all valid, understandable responses to the situation. It makes me wonder how I would respond, and I’m sure most readers will question themselves about this.

DeStafano puts a lot of symbolism into flowers. Her use of flowers starts with

“red roses that always look rubbery or parched in the windows. They, like humanity, are chemical replicas of what they should be” (pg 10)

 and continues with the white oleanders that represent the beautiful but dangerous place she is brought to.  There are also flowers on the back cover of the book, and I’ll be on the lookout for more flowers later in the novel.

I’m both excited and afraid to see what else Wither has in store, I have a feeling Rhine’s in for a rough time.

*I received the ARC from Simon and Schuster Canada

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