Thanks to modern science, every newborn 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 hew 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 is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
If I could sum this book up in one word it would be INCOMPLETE. There are so many plot holes in this book it was hard to keep up with them all and the world building was completely lacking. A good portion of the book made no sense to me, and I still question the actions and in-actions of Rhine. Because of genetic experimentation the older generation are free from disease. But as a result there is a defect that causes their offspring to die early; girls at the EXACT age of twenty, and boys at the EXACT age of twenty-five. Because of the short life span, girls are being stolen from the streets and their homes and forced to marry and have children. Rhine, at the age of sixteen, is taken from Manhattan where she lived with her twin brother, and taken to a wealthy household in Florida to become Linden Ashby’s wife.
I have so many issues with this book that I’m going to have to take it point by point. First I’d like to begin with the whole idea of stealing girls, forcing them into polygamous marriages, and making them have children. WHY? If I’m to believe the author, there are an abundance of orphans in this world because of the defect. Many of which I’m sure would be more than willing to live in luxury and be a wife and mother as long as they were provided for and didn’t have to scrimp and scrape the rest of their lives. So why it’s necessary to steal and kidnap these girls escapes me. I’m also confused as to why they shoot and kill the remaining girls who are not chosen by the husband. If the woman’s womb is so imperative to the human race surviving, and the sole purpose in stealing these women is to make them have kids so the race WON’T die out, then why are they KILLING girls? And if the girls die at twenty and boys at twenty-five, wouldn’t there be more men than women? So why are they killing off the half of the human race they need most? It just makes no sense. Why not put them back for someone else to choose, or perhaps for them to meet and marry on their own. The Gatherer’s actions totally don’t line up with their goals.
Now, I don’t know much about Science but I’m pretty sure some things that happen in this novel aren’t possible and the author gives no further explanations for her general statements. According to Rhine, only North America still exists in the world. The other parts of the world were obliterated in some arbitrary nuclear war and NA is the only place still standing…HOW? Also, the polar ice caps have been “vaporized” and we don’t know why or how. But if the ice caps are gone, wouldn’t Florida be completely submerged in water? And the fact that there is significant snow and even a blizzard in the state of Florida blows my mind. If any of this had been explained, then maybe I would have been okay swallowing it, but there are no explanations or details as to what happened, and why the weather is so ass backwards in Florida.
The R in Rhine should be replaced with a W. This girl moped and moaned and repeated the same sad diatribe day in and day out that I couldn’t take it. She’s always reminiscing about life with her twin brother but her life sucked! Now I can truly understand her missing and loving her brother and wanting to be with him because that was her only family left. But she didn’t have an easy life with her brother. They had to bury all their valuables. They slept in the basement among the rats, took turns sleeping while the other stood guard with a shotgun, and was always worried about their next meal, kids stealing, and Gatherers breaking in to steal Rhine. They lived in perpetual fear. Now she wants for nothing really. She eats very well, has a personal servant, gets to get dressed up and go to balls, and has a husband who will pretty much give her everything. For some reason she never has to consummate with the husband, so besides the brother angle, I have no idea why she is so hell bent on leaving. Also, she never took advantage of the opportunities presented to her. At one point she wanted to see Gabriel who had been sent to the basement. But when a distraction was provided for her, she didn’t go. Also, despite the many times that she could have tried to escape, she decides the best time to go is during a hurricane…REALLY? I’m going to chalk that up to her age…I’m sure I did some insanely stupid things when I was sixteen.
Linden, the husband, was so willfully oblivious that it was disgusting. If ever someone walked around with their head in the clouds it was him. Even when an opportunity presents itself, and he actually wonders about Rhine’s life before him, he NEVER bothers to ask his wives anything about themselves. I can’t tell you how infuriating his ignorance was. He is not aware that his father kidnapped these girls and had others killed, and he doesn’t want to know. And Rhine has plenty of opportunities to tell him but never discloses the information to him. *Bangs head on keyboard*. Eventually Rhine seems to grow feelings for him or maybe she just feels sorry for him, but I don’t get it. There is nothing appealing about him, and the fact that he’s not curious at all would completely turn me off, not make me feel sorry for him.
The so-called villain is no villain, he is merely implied. We hear so much about how evil Linden’s father is but there are no clear and concise instances of this in the book. Rhine never physically sees him doing anything evil and neither does the reader. Everything is implied which kind of makes it weak. We find out that the father takes the bodies of the dead wives (after they’ve died of the virus) and experiments on them to find a cure. Rhine hates him for this, but I honestly don’t see what the big deal is. So he uses bodies to experiment, he is searching for a cure and I fail to see what’s so bad about that. Now if he obtains bodies from other ways that are only IMPLIED in the book, then yeah, not cool. But doing this with an already deceased body is expected and what scientists do.
Despite all of this, even though there were several times I didn’t want to finish, I kept reading for some reason…morbid curiosity maybe. I will admit that DeStefano has a very nice way with words. her prose is beautiful, almost lyrical at times. Gabriel was a bright spot for me, though he’s rarely seen once you get midway into the book. I also found the older sister wife, Jenna,to be quite interesting. She was resigned to her fate even though she didn’t like it one bit. But she was observant and she did what she could to aid Rhine in her escape and in seeing Gabriel when he was banished to the basement. I really would have liked to know more about her and the inner workings of her brain.
Overall the book really just made no sense to me. The back story, the characters, the decisions they made…it all just made no sense. I feel bad when I have to give a bad review but I couldn’t even suspend my disbelief and that’s usually so easy for me. I doubt very much that I will continue with this series. There are just too many questions and plot holes for me to be interested in continuing. I’m sure there are plenty of others out there who enjoyed the book so don’t let my review spoil it for you. Check some other reviews out before you make up your mind on whether to bother with this one or not.
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Filed in: Dystopian, Fiction, Reviews, Young Adult Tags: Books, Dystopian, Fiction, Lauren DeStefano, Review, Young Adult