Series: The Chemical Garden, #1
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Reading Level and Genre(s): YA Dystopian
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
*Note: The text featured in this post is from an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC). Changes may have been made in the final proof.
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 limited time she has left.
Why, oh why, must authors write really good books? Why must they make it difficult for us to review them? Can't they just give us a mediocre book that I could easily write a couple sentences on and be done with? Or even better, a bad book. Bad books are so easy to review.
Lauren DeStefano's writing is so beautiful and poetic. It really drew me into the novel. I started the book one night, and didn't stop until I finished it at 5AM. I just couldn't. Put. It. Down. There were some creepy parts, especially the ones with Rhine's disturbing father-in-law. I didn't want to fall asleep with thoughts of him haunting me.
Even though everybody (other than the first-generation) was supposed to be really young, I couldn't help but to picture them as a lot older, especially Rose, Jenna, and Linden. Despite their young age, they seemed matured and ready to die. Especially when the virus was described. I pictured Rose as an old woman lying in a bed, not a twenty-year-old.
Linden made me feel sorry for him. He tried, I really think he did, but he was just so clueless. He just seemed too innocent, especially with evil old Vaughn hiding everything from him. He seemed lost and confused, and didn't really understand what love was like (except with Rose). But he tried. And Gabriel. When I pictured him, I saw light. He was the light to Rhine. Every moment she got to spend with him was a moment she treasured. But I didn't fall in love with him. I loved all the romantic parts between him and Rhine. I felt like she really deserved to have those happy times, despite the fact that she was caged for the rest of her life. I also felt that romance was not a huge presence in this novel. Yes, the whole thing was about Rhine being married off, but it wasn't a true love relationship. And there weren't enough moments between Rhine and Gabriel to really make it a romance novel like many YA books out there today. Yes, she wanted to escape. But not for him or anybody else. For herself. And I appreciated that.
My favorite part of the novel, though, was the sister relationship between Jenna, Cecily, and Rhine. I loved to see their strong support network, and how they always tried to help the others. Sure, Cecily made me a little annoyed at first, but I warmed up to her a bit. She was too young to really know much better. And Jenna. I loved Jenna. She was my favorite character. She had already accepted her fate, knowing that she'd die soon, but she didn't give up on Rhine and her dreams. She seemed kind of like a mother to the other two. I wished she had a happier life. Rose was another of my favorites. She only had a small part in the book alive, but she was mentioned constantly afterwards. I enjoyed her presence and felt like she was really core to the entire novel. It made me depressed reading that early scene when Rose picked up the picture, and talked about "her Linden" to Rhine.
The ending, of course, made me want more of Rhine's story. I kind of felt like they got off easy, but I still want to know what's going to happen. Don't hesitate to pick up this book. Its beautiful writing will pull you in and never let go until you turn the final page. It's a fantastic dystopian book that will make you laugh, cry, shudder, and wonder. I just wish Fever would come out sooner!
"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper." -T.S. Eliot
I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids. We sleep huddled together light rats, staring out, and dream of our bodies swaying.
I always knew I was an excellent liar; I just didn't know that I had it in me to fool myself.
"Did you tell freedom hello for me?"
"I'll tell you something about true love. There's no science to it. It's as natural as the sky."
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