By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking 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 kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. 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 is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out? 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?
This was a really refreshing book. The plot was unique and captivating. In this dystopian world men and women are put on a timeline. Since people die at an early age women are kidnapped and sold to the wealthy as brides. The main character Rhine is one of them. She is taken from her only family, her brother, and taken to the wealthy Linden’s house, along with two other girls. Rhine is resistant to her new life. She refuses to play the role of a dutiful wife. She has no one to turn to. She isn’t sure if she can trust her sister wives and she doesn’t know if she can trust her feelings for Linden. Linden who is nothing but nice to her. Then there is the servant Gabriel who seems to capture her interest. Linden’s father is a first generation and has lived to an old age. He desperately searches for a cure and no ethical boundaries will stop him. I felt really sorry for Linden in this book. He is such a nice guy and is so innocent. Rhine was a very enjoyable character to follow. She had her own flaws but that made her all the more human. I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good read.
The next book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy is Fever due out February 2012.