I had been seeing Lauren DeStefano's Wither a lot in bookstores and was intrigued by the premise. A genetic experiment gone wrong has given all newborns a fixed lifespan of 25 years for males and 20 years for females. How could I not get hooked?
Apparently, it happened when scientists were trying to discover a cure of cancer and other degenerative diseases. They found a way to genetically engineer fetuses so that all the babies would be born strong and healthy and immune to any disease. It worked great, and the first generation all grew up and grew old and never got sick.
Unfortunately, their children and their children’s children all started dying at the age of 20 and 25, and they’ve been looking for a cure since. In the meantime, it was important not to let the human race die out, so they started kidnapping girls in their teens to become child-brides and produce babies.
Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is one of the child-brides, but although her husband Linden loves her and she gets along well with her sister wives, she longs for her freedom and the love of a servant, Gabriel, who is as much a prisoner as she is. It’s a bittersweet story, and I can’t help but root for Rhine and Gabriel even as I’m rooting for her husband, Linden.
Reading this book makes me think of all the reasons people are against cloning, genetically modified foods, genetic engineering, and anything that interferes with the natural order of things.
It’s hard to say where I stand on this issue, because on the one hand, I can see all the benefits that could be achieved, but on the other, who knows what kind of effects all these experiments could have on us in the long run?