Monday, June 13, 2011
Distracting Details/A Mixed Review of Wither
by Lauren Destefano
The Short Story
In the evil!future, a disease wipes out women at age 20 and men at 25. Rhine is 16 and spends her time trying to avoid kidnappers who sell teen girls. But she gets caught with a dozen-ish others and is taken to some creepsters for purchase. The options are either to be sold as a polygamous bride, prostitution, or being shot. She ends up with the first option with two others, no one gets the second, and the rest get shot.
The Distracting Details
Here's my problem with Wither. Women die at 20, men at 25, right? So there are more men than women. I get that women could become commodities in that situation. Low supply, high demand and all. I also get that prostitution would exist, although forced prostitution makes less sense. But why polygamy, which is one man and more than one woman? There are more men than women. So, not enough women to go around. If the goal were just to make more (genetically diverse) people, couldn't they just let people sort of naturally pair up, as people are wont to do? There's really no reason for polygamy in this story.
Wouldn't polyandry (one woman, more than one man) make more sense? I know that doesn't get you more people in the way that polygamy would. But if the goal were more people, why did the extra kidnapped girls get shot? Those kidnappers apparently weren't the best business men. Also, why would the overabundance of guys whose sisters/friends are being kidnapped, or were just girl-less themselves, not band together and do something about this?
So. . .
This was all I could think about for the first 50 pages of Wither. Anyone who's finished the book knows that those details don't really factor much in the rest of the story. It's just a way to get the main girl into a polygamous marriage, and make the bad guys seem especially bad. But I couldn't get over it. Maybe this will all be explained in the rest of the series, or maybe it will be one of those "vampires want blood all the time unless it's a certain type of 'dead blood'" kinda deal.
Sometimes I think my disbelief is pretty heavy. Have you ever read a book where a small detail/plot point offended your sense of, well, sense?