Discussion: Wither by Lauren DeStefano
This post is part of the Catch Wither Fever Read-Along event hosted by myself and Jessie at The Daily Bookmark.
I haven’t finished Wither yet, but I wanted to go ahead and post a discussion about some of the controversial topics within the book. There won’t be any spoilers in this post (at least not anything that will reveal the ending), and I ask that any comments also refrain from using spoilers.
Note: I don’t want to cause a big todo with this post, but I just thought some of events that occur in Wither could spark some interesting conversations. I do not judge others, and I realize that my opinions are simply that – my opinions, and everyone else may have a completely different opinion. That’s great! So please know that I mean no offense to anyone who holds a different opinion from my own.
Discussion Topic #1: The Content Warning in Wither
I really don’t read very many reviews of books as I’m reading them, because I’m a bit crazy about spoilers. I like going into a book almost knowing nothing – I usually read a review or a synopsis of a book, add it to my TBR list on Goodreads, and then I don’t read anything else about it for a while. If I see one of my blogger friends has a review up, I’ll read that, and usually by the time I get around to reading the book, I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. So therefore I go in without really knowing much.
That said, with this Catch Wither Fever Read-Along Event, I’ve been looking into these books and Lauren DeStefano more than usual. I haven’t read any reviews since starting Wither, but I have glanced at a few. And here’s the discussion topic I’m trying to get to: I’ve noticed that a lot of reviews warn readers about the polygamy aspect in the story. And I get that, because polygamy is a very controversial topic and some readers are completely turned off by it.
But here are my thoughts on this: I try not to judge anyone, and therefore polygamy is not something that bothers me. It’s not for me – I’m in a monogamous marriage and that’s how it’ll always be for me – but I can’t say what’s right for anyone else. But my main point here is that, in my opinion, the polygamy in this story (at least in the parts that I’ve read) is NOT the big issue here. The big issue – the horrible thing that has gone on, that reviewers may also want to warn their readers about – is that these girls are forcibly taken from their homes, shoved in a van, evaluated, and then are either sold into prostitution, killed, or forced into a polygamous marriage, where they are expected to procreate. Their freedoms (or their lives) are taken from them, and they have absolutely no say in the matter. Rhine even brings up this point on page 224: “Freedom, Gabriel. That’s what you can’t get here.”
Basically, all I’m really saying, is that no matter your feelings on polygamy, I think the real issue in this story is that these girls are having their freedoms stripped from them, and they are being forced into marriages and motherhood against their will. Polygamy is kind of the least of their problems.
What are your thoughts on this? And don’t worry – I know that not everyone will feel the same way as me, so feel free to comment with different opinions. And also remember that I am not trying to offend anyone or their beliefs with this topic discussion. I know plenty of people will be extremely disturbed by the polygamy aspect. I just personally don’t see it as the worst thing in the story.
Discussion Topic #2: Speculating on the Future
I’ve also glanced at a couple of reviews that brought up the issue of the state of the world in Wither. So World War III happened sometime in the past, and it destroyed “all but North America, the continent with the most advanced technology” (page 55). Some criticize this as being kind of biased towards North America, saying that other countries have far more advanced technology. But I just see this as the speculative world that Lauren DeStefano has created. Rhine lives far into our future; she says that her father “had an atlas of the world as it appeared in the twenty-first century” (page 55), which means the book is set in at least the twenty-second century. So for all we know, by the time this story takes place, North America could be the continent with the most advanced technology.
The part that I have a bit of a harder time grasping is the idea that “the damage was so catastrophic that all that remains of the rest of the world is ocean and uninhabitable islands so tiny that they can’t even be seen from space” (page 55). I’m no scientist, but this seems unlikely. However – and don’t tell me if you’ve read more than I have in this series and you know the answer to this – I think that perhaps this is just what Rhine has been told, and it might not actually be true.
What do you guys think about this? Do you think it’s biased towards North America? Do you think that it’s scientifically possible for all but North America to be blasted into tiny islands?
Let’s get a discussion going! Remember, please don’t leave any spoilers, and also, please be respectful of everyone’s opinions. Leave your comments below, or feel free to write your own discussion post (and be sure to leave a link in the comments if you do)!