Author: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: March 22nd 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Source: Simon & Schuster (Thank you!)
Description from Goodreads:
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.
What an amazing book! This book takes you into a world where there is a time limit on how long a person lives. The girls live to 20 and the boys live till the age of 25. This is all because of a virus that was created when the first generations tried to cure things like cancer. The first generations are the ones that were born before the virus was created, therefore they live as long as they can, which means they live to become elders.
Rhine Ellery is 16 years old and she has 4 years left to live. Her and her twin brother, Rowan, lost their parents in a lab explosion and are left to fend for themselves and keep an eye out for any Gatherers that try to take Rhine or orphans who are desperate for food and shelter and will do anything to get it.
Rhine is kidnapped and later sold to a wealthy man that is getting his son, Linden, some wives. Rhine is not the only girl to be married to Linden. She now has 2 sister wives- Cecily and Jenna. Cecily is 13 and Jenna is 18. Rhine marries Linden against her will and decides the only way to escape is to earn his trust and become a first wife and earn all the extra privileges like parties and social gatherings.
What can be so bad about living in a mansion anyway? Rhine has her own domestics, servants, and attendants that will do whatever she needs them to do. She even starts to fall for her own personal attendant, Gabriel. This leads her to want to escape even more back to her brother and take Gabriel along on her so they can both live the rest of their short lives in freedom. Rhine does get to know Linden and sees that he really has no idea that his father, Housemaster Vaughn, is the reason she is there and that it's against her will. They grow closer and she starts to care for him as he cares for her, but she realizes that she wants freedom more. Instead of all the fancy dresses, meals, parties, and riches- Rhine wants freedom.
Her older sister wife, Jenna, tries to cause distractions and help Rhine through her journey to escape. She even steals a lighter from a servant and sets the curtains on fire, just so Rhine can see Gabriel and make sure he's ok. What a brave girl! Cecily on the other hand, wants to be there. She is young and doesn't really know what real freedom is and wants to please her new husband in every way possible.
This truly makes you stop and think while reading this. What if the world really did become like this? It would be a scary place to be, I know that. To have to watch your back all the time and try not to get kidnapped and sold would be horrible and terrifying. Not to mention losing your freedom and having to "please" a man you don't want to "please" but have to if you want to survive.
Rhine is such a sweet and polite character that is full of determination. She is always friendly to the staff and never complains about anything, unlike Cecily. She is always willing to help out her sister wives when they need her. Rhine finds out a lot of hidden secrets in the mansion and what she finds out only makes her want to leave more. She realizes that it isn't as safe and honest as Linden believes. He truly is clueless in this book. He doesn't know as much of what goes on around the mansion as what he thinks. His father is dishonest to him and tells him lies or does something because its more convenient than for Linden to know the truth. Basically, (and I apologize for saying this) his father is an ASS!
I really love the storyline, but was kinda hoping that it would have a different ending. I'm not gonna tell you what I was hoping for cause I don't want to give anything away. Lauren really created a masterpiece with this book. I was really drawn into the cast of characters and their situations they were put in. I can't wait to see what happens next in Rhine's journey!