Take a look at the cover art of Wither by Lauren DeStefano, and you might be intrigued. Is it a romance, a historical or perhaps a paranormal novel? It’s wonderfully dystopian – one of my favorite genres of books.
Just as in Margaret Atwood’s iconic The Handmaid’s Tale, this future population is dwindling due to the dire effects of genetic engineering. Here the stakes are raised for now girls die by twenty and guys by twenty-five of a virus that science created in its attempt to perfect humanity. Yet there are a few exceptions, remnants of the earlier generation, who are now in their seventies and funding the new research.
With such little time to live and so much at stake, the wealthy have woven a society based upon polygamy, parties, and genetic experimentation. In the opening chapter, sixteen year old Rhine is kidnapped. She knows girls disappear everyday. They are murdered, sold into prostitution or become brides to wealthy men. Rhine’s one of the ‘lucky’ ones, transported across the country to meet her future husband and her new sister-wives. Once there Rhine finds she has someone to design couture gowns for her, she goes to high-end parties, and she almost forgets her goal to escape and reunite with her brother.
The parallel to human trafficking is all too real as Rhine watches in horror as the girls not selected are executed. In this world, life is both priceless and valueless. The symbols of the garden,beauty, and locked in a ‘gilded cage’ run throughout the story. Take a couple of hours and slip into this not so distant future…