Publishing Info: March 22, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 1, 2012
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By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years--leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.
When Rhine is sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement; her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next; and Rhine has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.
Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
Okay, at first, I was kind of creeped out with the child bride stuff. The youngest girl Cecily is only 13 when she becomes Linden’s bride and since she is the most eager after being rescued from an orphanage, she immediately becomes the favorite to bear Linden’s children and is pregnant at 13. Pretty messed up. But taking into account what the book is all about, I guess that really does make sense in this messed up future world. Children have to be parents to new children in order to be around at all to raise them, and Linden’s three brides are there to preserve the human race and carry on his family before they are all wiped out.
Putting that aside… I loved it. I loved Rhine as the heroine of this book. She doesn’t have to fight to be strong. She knows that her strongest bet is to play along with the marriage and all the while bide her time while she finds the perfect escape strategy. I got so wrapped up in the story and it was really interesting to see all the tangles of relationships that Rhine has with all of the members in the house. I loved her relationship with her sister wives. They really do become sisters and furthermore, you really get to see each of the personalities of Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily and really get to know them. Lauren DeStefano does a great job of really getting you to know the girls and I felt like I could picture the story as it was happening. Great descriptions and I really felt connected to each of the girls.
Housemaster Vaughn. Where do I begin? He is accurately described as Dr. Frankenstein in the book. He’s a doctor and so desperate to find a cure for this disease so his son won’t die. Rhine seriously doubts the girls mean anything to him and his charm is pure cover and makes her (and me) shiver with the disgusting sweetness he plays out. Rhine is sure that he’s testing on anyone who dies from this disease to find a cure, all the while keeping Linden as his puppet, completely clueless about what’s really going on. Vaughn is the one who Rhine must hide from in order to stay safe and stay alive to escape from their prison — I mean, mansion.
I really enjoyed the story and I was hooked! Great characters, very interesting plot line, and I can’t wait to read the second book!!
Really loved it! A lovely dystopian world (although a bit creepy) and I just couldn’t put it down!