Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1)
by Lauren Destefano
Published March 22, 2011
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
What a super creepy book. The whole concept, the characters, and the setting -- all of it-- just super creepy. In this novel the newer generations only live to the ages of 20 for women and 25 for men. Because of this short life span women are kidnapped by the wealthy and forced to marry. In this situation Rhine, Cecily, and Jenna are all chosen out of a group of stolen women to marry Linden.
Rhine is not at all happy about this situation like Cecily is, or willing to accept this fate as Jenna is, instead she plans and plots to escape. She spends the time in the novel earning the trust of her new husband Linden to gain access the other women do not have, in other words to be the first wife, the favorite.
She builds relationships with her "sister wives" (another uber creepy concept). Young Cecily is entirely to excited to be a Mrs. and does everything to make their husband happy. Jenna knows she'll be dying soon and feels this place is as good as any. Rhine wants an escape to find her twin brother. They work together at times and really form a bond, each taking different roles in the mansion.
Rhine also builds a relationship with a servant in the mansion: Gabriel. They spend time talking when they can, share a kiss or two, and when Rhine plans her escape she is determined to take him with her. The only real problem is Vaughn, the master of the house and Linden's father. He is the real villian. He is cruel and manipulating, definitely that mad scientist vibe going on in everything he does.
Now, my weird quirk with this book is how bad I feel for Linden, the husband. He had no idea that these girls were captured and are being held hostage. He assumed they came willingly, he's so naive I actually feel bad for him. Not only that, he really loves Rhine. I feel sooo sorry for him. Is that considered Stockholm's Syndrome? Because his father is the lunatic, not him. I hope he realizes his father is evil and does something -- anything.