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Wither-ing on the vine

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)Another post-apocalypse novel where women get the short end of the (burnt, radioactive, diseased, whatever) stick. Why is this so often the case?? I'm familiar with the theory that equal rights for women is a luxury of civilized society, possible only because we live in a nice safe world with laws and cops in which it doesn't matter that we're physically weaker. Conversely, therefore, in an uncivilized world where physical power matters, women would once again -- so the theory goes -- become second-class citizens.

There is a certain plausibility to this, in cases where society has in fact collapsed. In the world of Wither, however, society's still functioning pretty well despite the toxic stew which apparently covers most of it (hence the subtitle, "the chemical garden trilogy"). There are limousines, servants, parties, mansions, and research scientists. Heck, there are even dressmakers, architects, trampolines and soap operas.

The apocalypse in this case -- similar to The Testament Of Jessie Lamb -- is a virus that kills women promptly at age 20 and men at age 25, and this apparently is enough to change women's status completely. One would think that this would make women more valuable. One would be wrong. Roving gangs of Gatherers roam about kidnapping young women for wealthy young men so they can get married and have babies before they die, yes. But the kidnapped girls that aren't selected as brides are either sold into prostitution or simply murdered outright. Now that just flies in the face of logic.

In fact there are quite a few things in this book that fly in the face of logic, among them raging blizzards in Florida, some sort of war that blew all the other continents to bits (not countries, mind you, continents), and a disease that has a built-in timer (I kept thinking of that plastic popup thing you get in turkeys -- *ping* you're dead!). If I were grading solely on logic, alas, this would get zero stars. Character development is pretty thin too; it feels like a fairy tale. Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Rhine who was kidnapped and locked in a tower by the evil magician Housemaster Vaughn; the clueless prince Linden fell in love with her but the valiant servant boy (Gabriel) rescues her.

However, I have to admit that the events of the story are engrossing; it kept me up turning pages until 1am to see what happened, so that boosted it from 2 stars to 3. The trick is to treat it like riding a unicycle: keep moving fast enough that you don't fall over. Or in this case, fast enough that you don't notice the inconsistencies, the paper-thin world-building, and the one-dimensional characters.


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Feb. 9th, 2012 07:08 am (UTC)

But of course women's rights are just an anachronism and will oooh wither... It's against nature, and logic and justice ~rolls eyes~
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