Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: March 2011
Format: eBook | 368 pages
Genre: YA | Dystopian
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 she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
This book had been on my wish-list since it came out now and I've only just picked it up. I remember it getting so much hype when it came out and it put me off a little because I didn't want to read it straight away and end up disappointed. I have to say though, for the amount of praise I remember it getting from reviewers, I actually don't understand why after reading it. It was an okay read, but not as fantastic as people made it out to be. To each their own I guess - it's their opinion.
What I didn't like most about this read was that it seemed a little disjointed at quite a few moments in the plot. For a start, I would be midway through a chapter and in a new paragraph the time has progressed by a few days or even months with no warning. And even then, looking at the book as a whole, the whole idea of the virus killing off women at 20 and men at 25 didn't really make sense. I know it's made up and everything, but there has to be some elements that make it believable - it didn't sit well with me at all so it made the whole story and characters hard to relate to.
Rhine is a pretty good character in my opinion, except for a few choices that got me a little frustrated with her. She tried to look out for everyone and I sympathised with her when unfortunate events occurred. She was determined and she had her strengths but she was also caring and it made me root for her. The problem I had with the characters was Gabriel and Linden. Gabriel made no impression on me whatsoever! I have no idea if it's because he doesn't play enough of a part or if I didn't like his personality in general but I pretty much didn't care about what happened to him. But Linden was something else. I thought he was an incredibly weak character. Both in his personality and the way he was portrayed by the author. I hated him. He had no clue about what was happening and it didn't endear me to him one bit - he just seemed like a sheep following his father around waiting to be told what to do. Plus, he was supposed to be in love with Rhine, but everything he came out with was completely unbelievable to me - he just rubbed me the wrong way in every way possible.
What I did like about this read, and it's what kept me going, was the level of suspense and intensity involved. Everything that happened led up to Rhine's escape - it led to some really exciting and tense moments where I just had to find out what happened no matter what I felt about the characters involved. I also thought it was suitably creepy at times, especially Linden's father, which gave the read a great level of urgency.
Overall this read was pretty much meh for me. The more I think about it, the more I can't believe I finished it - harsh, but true. I don't think I'll be reading on in the series but as always, this was just my opinion and a ton of people really love this series so check it out.
My rating: 4/10
The Chemical Garden: