Wither is a dystopian look at genetic engineering gone badly wrong in post-apocalyptic North American after the 3rd world war has scourged the earth. The tone of the book is hopeless and heart wrenching. Even the happy ending is bittersweet.
And that’s not to say I didn’t like the book, because I did enjoy it. It was just sad and depressing. A little bit like Flowers in the Attic. Children locked away from the world by a cruel and crazy grandmother. A book that if my mother had read, I would not have been allowed to.
Theology: Man is god
There’s no God in this book, unless you count the cursing (I seem to remember a couple of g-d’s in there somewhere). That explains the hopelessness that pervades the book. If you’re left to your own resources and you can’t call on a higher power in a desperate situation, you’re not in a good place. There is no ‘good’ in this book. The choices are all between bad and worse. Hense, depressing.
Wither’s world is not a happy place. The life span for girls is 20 years and boys is 25 years, so people must procreate young for the human species to survive. Women are kidnapped (think sex-trafficking) and sold to wealthy men or given to brothels. There are tons of hungry orphans because everyone’s parents are dead.
Social issues: Sex, drinking, sex-trafficking, murder, homelessness, experimentation on humans
There are three sister-wives in this story (three girls married to the same man/boy). He does not have sex with anyone who isn’t willing and the sex scenes are not described. Drinking is portrayed as a happy escape from reality. There is little compassion for the plight of the homeless because of the priority of self-preservation.
Kids are going to read this book because it’s the kind of thing they like and its popular. It would be in a parent’s best interest to read it and discuss it with them. Look on it as an opportunity for a good discussion.