Target Audience: Teens/Young Adults
OMG, this book had me laughing, crying and a bit inbetween, but a lot of the time I was just terrified and utterly fascinated by the world that Miss DeStefano has created, and it isn't one I would personally like to live in. Some people who have already read this may disagree with me, but I think I value my freedom too highly.
Set in a world where genetic engineering has gone wrong, in which men only live to aged 25 and women to aged 20 before they die of a horrible virus. Terrified that the human race will die out, young girls are taken as brides or are kidnapped for the sole purpose of marriage and children. Rhine is 16 when she is kidnapped and married to a wealthy man named Linden and although he treats her kindly she longs to be free to find her brother; Rowan. Can she really escape the mansion that has become her prison and be with the servant Gabriel, who she has feelings for before time runs out?
As I've previously mentioned, I had so many mixed emotions about this book and I remember clearly in one chapter that begins with: 'Jenna was right...' I was in floods of tears (though I won't post spoilers by saying why!) In contrast, some instances left me laughing, including the fact that of all the things an 18 year old girl would ask for, she asks for a trampoline...awesome.
On a more serious note, I found the setting of the novel to be very claustrophobic and I really felt for Rhine (who at one point wasn't even allowed a window open). I could never live in a house where I wasn't allowed to walk where I wanted, choose what I wanted to wear or even breath in the night air through an open window.
I've read a lot of reviews about this book and a few people have said that they would be content with the pampered lifestyle. After reading this, I can safely say I wouldn't be, in fact, I think I'd go crazy and fling myself through the closed window and onto the previously mentioned trampoline :-) I totally empathise with Rhine and throughout the novel I was routing for her to escape both Linden and his father (who I hate by the way).
I think the other thing that creeped me out was the 'experiments' carried out by Linden's father. I still don't know exactly what these entail and part of me is dreading the day I find out, although maybe the truth isn't as bad as my imagination.
Relationship wise, I loved the bond that Rhine slowly developed with her Sister Wives and the sense of kinship was rather wonderful towards the rear end of the novel. To me though, I saw them only as sisters rather than sister wives, simply because of how close they were. Jenna was probably my favourite simply because of how matter of fact she was and yet she was still there for Rhine when she needed her. Cecily, on the other hand, is a prime example of why 13-year-old's are too young for marriage and children and I shall say no more in-case I spoil something.
The relationship between Rhine and Linden was a bit strange, but I still liked it to a certain extent, but not as much as her relationship with Gabriel. I did like the forbidden love aspect between Gabriel and Rhine and how they were willing risk so much for freedom and to be together; being a romantic, I loved how their story developed.
I could go on forever, but if I do I know I will end up posting spoilers so I'm going to stop there. This is an emotive, thought provoking and slightly terrifying novel that will, at times, chill you to the core and yet at other times really warm your heart.