By: Lauren DeStefano
Published by: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
Well, let me just get straight to it, I liked this book. But I didn't love it. The world created was an interesting one, but there was a lot about it that didn't add up for me and that kept me from being able to buy into it completely. People's actions didn't seem to line up with their motivations and it seemed like some things could have been handled and dealt with with a simple conversation. I also kept wondering why there were no fertility centers. If girls are being orphaned at a young age because their parents die so young, I would think think there would be places like this set up where lots of disadvantaged girls would end up. Just seemed like something you would see in this kind of world. At the very minimum, once Rhine and her fellow sister wives had been kidnapped, it would have made sense if they had been given fertility tests or if someone had tried to figure out when the optimum time for conception would be...no?? An ovulation kit or something??? Especially considering Linden's father is doing experiments...he's got the scientific know-how to do that. But no, perpetuating the human race is left entirely to chance here.
Most of the book takes place at Linden's mansion, where the girls become his wives and are basically prisoners, never allowed to leave the grounds. I could really feel the sense of isolation and how Rhine felt like she was withering away with her few short years left being spent secluded from the real world. She was alive, but not really living. Days were spent in the library or on the grounds of the mansion, where many things weren't even real, but merely holograms. It was easy to understand Rhine's sense of desperation and her desire to escape even though some could argue that it maybe wasn't such a bad life there. I think this is conveyed wonderfully by the image of the bird in the cage on the cover. A cage, even a lovely one, is still a cage and nothing can compare to freedom.
In the summary for this book, it is revealed that Linden is in love with Rhine and also that she wants to find her brother. What I couldn't understand is why she didn't just tell him to help her find her brother!!! And why in the world wouldn't she tell him the things she suspected about his father and the events leading up to her becoming a sister-wife? I felt like so many things could have been solved if she had just opened her mouth. Linden was a pretty decent guy! I mean, maybe if he had been portrayed as more of a villain I could understand her silence but as it stands it only served to frustrate me and make me feel like one of the major things driving the plot was forced. And I was aware of that while I was reading, which took away from my ability to get completely lost in this one.