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Wither (Chemical Garden)

Wither (Chemical Garden) - Lauren DeStefano

I'd heard a lot about this book and was curious to read it. It was...interesting?


First of all, the world building made no sense. Apparently all that's left of the world is North America, ignoring the fact if the rest of the world had been destroyed, then surely Manhattan or other places in the country around water would have sunk as well. But apparently not, since that's where the main character is originally from. Then there's some sort of disease that makes it so women can't live past 20 and men past 25 (why do men live longer? So many things about this disease and this world are never explained.), so a bunch of girls get kidnapped and forced to become one of many wives to men. That's the other thing about this world: since everyone dies so young, men have multiple wives in order to have multiple children. I'm surprised that teenagers care so much about having kids and preserving the species, though I suppose SEX SEX SEX.


Then DeStefano really fails to deliver. She's trying to make this world seem horrible, and in some cases it is, but it's hard to feel sympathy for a character who's complaining about how awful her life is and how she wants to get away when she's being really spoiled and treated well. Her husband treats her pretty well and she gets the spot of the valued wife, and he's willing to wait to have sex with her until she's ready. It could have been interesting to explore how even being pampered like this it's a terrible situation, but DeStefano doesn't do that. It just feels like whining. Even things that SHOULD be horrifying fall flat too.