wither by lauren destefano

Warning: Do not read this book if you are depressed.

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.

Rating: PG-13

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.


4 thoughts on “wither by lauren destefano

  1. I remember seeing this in the store recently. Definitely the kind of book kids like. I remember books like “16 is too young to die” being so popular when I was that age.


    1. Kat – I wonder where that comes from? 16 is too young to die, but I don’t think kids think about mortality unless they’re suicidal. They definitely live in the now. Like in Dead Poets’ Society–I remember sympathizing with the kid that killed himself because his parents were forcing him away from his dream. Now, I think–he could do what he wanted in a couple of years. What a waste. #perspective, right?


  2. Thanks for the look at this. My son enjoys reading dystopian novels, and while I like some of them myself, a lot of them do seem to be on the depressing side. I’ll definitely read this one first if he shows an interest in it.


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