Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: Chemical Garden #1
Published: 2011 by Harper Voyager
Other info: This is Lauren’s debut. Book two, Fever, is out. Book 3, Sever, should be out next year.
Summary : What if you knew exactly when you would die? Thanks to modern science, 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 she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
Review: In this world, people know when they’re going to die. After experiments fail, women life to 20 and men to 25. Rhine is sixteen, giving her four years to live. Like many other girls, she is kidnapped and forced into a marriage with Linden. And unlike her Sister Wives, she dreams of escaping. Together, she and house servant Gabriel attempt to escape and live the lives they have left to the full.
This is one of those books that I hear about, then don’t get round to reading for a long long time. still, I’ve read it now. I like the idea, as it’s different and I like thinking about what would you do if you knew how long you had left.
It starts really quickly, with world building coming after the action. you get used to this society, the polyamory, and short life spans really easily, and you’re soon pulled in.
Rhine is a believable character and interesting to read about. I love the fact that she wants more than a life inside the mansion, but a part of me just wants to shout at her. Compared to her old life, and the fate of some other girls out there, she has an amazing life. Her husband is nice, he doesn’t force himself on her, and she makes friends easily. Still, she doesn’t whine as much as –somebody-.
Linden, Gabriel and the Sister wives, and the servants are all really nice, fleshed out, and you really want to get to know them. They don’t change that much in terms of attitudes, but they do go through a lot.
The only exception to this lovable cast is Vaugn, who is a protagonist that forces Rhine to think differently and stay alert.
My favourite character is Rose, despite the fact that we don’t see that much of her. Second favourite is Deidre- adorable servant who is amazing at dressmaking.
After the quick start, it slows down a little. Then it speeds up. Then slows down. The pace and interest levels fluctuate a lot,
Rhine thinks in metaphors. I enjoy elaborate writing, but I find it hard to believe that this teenage girl thinks completely in metaphors.
This isn’t the best book I’ve ever read. But it’s definitely gripping, and by the end of the book, you really want to read on. I’ll definitely read Fever soon.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to a different dystopian novel that will leave you wanting more.