Monday, March 5, 2012


Woot! Woot!
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?

What I've been finding in the YA fiction world is a lot of dystopian premises. And the thing about it is it seems the plots just get weirder and weirder. This one took me awhile before I finally picked it up mostly because I was uncertain about the plot. Was it enticing because of its weirdness? Yes. That's why I bought the book. But I wasn't sure. Mostly because the main plot of the whole thing included a polygamist marriage. Seems like people are obsessed with polygamists these days and I've not been able to hop on that bandwagon.

DeStefano's writing rings clear as a bell. It is often poetic and quite often very symbolic and rigorous. I grew attached to the characters immediately. Rhine is a reliable heroine who is smart and quick on her feet. She doesn't do anything that makes me want to reach through the pages and strangle her. One thing I was unsure of was the attraction between her and Gabriel, but there was enough chemistry there that I accepted it for what it was.

The premise is odd. Let's go back to that. The virus isn't explained, and kind of glossed over, but I'm actually glad she didn't get into too much detail. Her whole dystopian world is built around the idea that men only live until they are 25 and women only until they're 20. This makes 13 year old girls into women in their prime. I really think DeStefano captured the significance and the impact that this whole virus would have on society. It's quite a mental shift as you read her book, but I really liked it.

And the whole sister wives and polygamist thing. While it was off-setting at first, I found that I really liked it. It would make sense in the setting and in the world that DeStefano has created that men would marry multiple wives in order to continue their progeny. I think, however, what really did it for me was the relationship between the three girls. Rhine seems to be the glue that holds them all together. I never really cared for Cecily. Jenna is a remarkable character who sits in the background but is the backbone of the story. I loved the dynamic between them and also their relationship with Linden. It became fascinating to me to see how it all unfolded. It is summed up near the end in the best way: "Jenna was the disposable one. Cecily was the baby factory. And I was to be the apple of his eye."

I just read another review on this book and, while this review is pretty surface level, the reviewer did mention something I found interesting. Linden is an interesting character. At first he seems to be the bad guy although I never really sensed the hostility or antagonism from him that I got from Vaughn. Sure, he's rich and snobbish. He's also a fragile character and I'm not sure why he's so...soft, but I do like the dynamic between him and Rhine. There is chemistry between them and she fights it because he is the one she's supposed to hate. Really it makes for a great love story. So it makes me wonder if Rhine only hates him for what he represents (slavery) and loves Gabriel for what he represents (freedom) or if she does, in fact, love both of them in her own way.

This book has it all: romance, intrigue, action, people-killing virus, under-handed rich people, fantastic illusions, and beautiful writing. The subject matter is a little more mature so I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers who aren't able to understand/comprehend/deal with these things in a more serious fashion. 

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