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?
I have owned this particular book since the days of Borders Books. I remember rushing out to get this book when it was new and in hardcover because I loved the cover and I so badly wanted to read the story. Well it sat on my shelf for almost eight years and I really think that was a mistake.
When this novel starts I was drawn into the storyline of how girls are just taken and given to rich young men who need wives in order to reproduce. The society has killed off disease and such but now their children die at 25 for males and 20 for females. This makes everyone in a rush in order to be married and have children, such as in the olden times when people only lived till they were 30-40 due to the vast amounts of illness.
I really loved Rhine right away, I feel that if you do not like her character that much in the beginning of the book then you will not enjoy the rest of the story. This story is very centered on Rhine, which I did not expect. I expected her husband, Linden, to have a bigger role in the story but for me he was not that important. This story really shines by being the struggle of one young woman to decide what her life is worth to her and how far she is willing to go to survive and gain freedom.
Overall, I really highly enjoyed this story as a cool dystopian with a historical feel that had strong themes on freedom. I feel that this book did wrap up in a nice way and I’m not sure I will read the second and third book because I feel I got some of the answers I needed. Time will tell if I dive into the rest of the series but I believe I will keep this on my read shelf for years to come so I can reread it.