Author: Lauren DeStefano
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Series: The Chemical Garden, #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Publication Date: March 22nd 2011
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years–leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphan’s 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 sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet 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 has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.
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?
I got fooled into thinking this book was head over heels amazing – twice.
The beautiful cover reeled me in, and with the premise, I was hoping to read one of the most amazing dystopians I’ve ever read. Didn’t happen.
What really disappointed me from the book was the world building.
Rhine Ellery lives in North America, the only continent left after some huge war.
“All we were taught of geography was that the world had once been made up of seven continents and several countries, but a third world war demolished all but North America, the continent with all the most advanced technology”
How does a war destroy 6 continents? HOW?
Also, I think this was poor world building. I mean, it’s like the author thought “Let’s just destroy the whole world, so I don’t need to worry about what happens anywhere else except in Rhine’s life”. It was a totally drastic way to explain what happened to the rest of the world.
Other than the world building, I thought the storyline was weak.
Instead of shedding some more light on the disease that’s killing everyone, all that we see in the book is Rhine’s married life, and how she reacts to it.
I wanted to know what was happening with the disease, and how they were searching for a cure, but it looked as if no one gave a damn about that, and all they wanted to do was kidnap women to make them wives. The women that couldn’t be wives got killed, even though it’s been established that human life in this world is a rare and precious thing.
I couldn’t bring myself to like any of the characters, except maybe Jenna. Jenna was the only character in this book with common sense.
The supposed antagonist, Linden Ashby, was too nice to be hated, and I honestly like him much more than Gabriel. Vaughn is the true antagonist, but it’s difficult to even feel some fear for him.
The end of the book left me completely unsatisfied. I felt as if after writing 348 pages, the author thought “Well…maybe I should end the book now”, and in the last 10 pages made a hasty ending to introduce the second book.
I guess what I did like about the book was the prose. It was poetic and emotional, and the words did captivate you to a point.
“Love is natural. Even the human race can’t claim to be natural anymore. We are fake, dying things.”
Overall, the poor world building and storyline didn’t make me enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I may read the next books in the series, if they’re available in a library or something like that.
Rating: 2.5 stars
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