Author: Lauren DeStefano
Hardcover, 356 pages
Expected publication: March 22nd 2011 by Simon &Schuster Children's Publishing
Series: Chemical Garden #1
Characters: Rose, Jenna, Cecilia, Linden, Gabriel, Rhine
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
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 limted time she has left.
It was easy to get sucked into the world WITHER creates. Rhine is a believable character who I wanted to succeed from page one. Rhine's attachment to her twin brother is a strong motivator for her to find her freedom and return to him because he is the only thing that matters in her crazy world. Her bother is all that she has. When she's stolen away and forced to become a bride, I felt her anger. I felt her disgust toward her new husband just like Rhine, but Ms. DeStefano did a great job at softening that feeling by peeling away Liden's layers and revealing he had a side that I could like. Still, I had a hard time getting over the hump that Liden also had a 13 year-old bride, which is why I am glad Gabriel is in the picture.
There's just something about a forbidden love that hooks me every time. Rhine's relationship with Gabriel is risky. They'd be killed if anyone ever found out she liked anyone other than her husband, Liden, and that heightens the stakes tremendously.
I really, really liked this one. I haven't gotten it off my mind for days. Instantly I craved book number two in the series because I just HAVE to know what happens next. Kudos Ms. DeStefano for a kick-ass debut!