by Lauren DeStefano
Published: March 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
At age 16, Rhine Ellery has four years to live. Thanks to a botched effort to create a perfect race, all females live to age 20 and males live to age 21. On the cusp of her 17th birthday, Rhine attempts to flee, but what she finds is a society spiraling out of control.
This was a really bizarre read for me. There were parts that I absolutely loved and then others I just couldn't stand. Regardless of those parts that I didn't like, I am definitely going to read the second book in the series.
The story starts off fairly depressing. Rhine is kidnapped and being forced into an arranged polygamous marriage, the other girls being 18 and 13, to a boy/man of 21. I refuse to say man because Linden is completely clueless and acts like a child, which considering the world they live in seems pretty unlikely.
So what did I love about it? Rhine. She is one of those characters that is flawed enough that you don't hate her, but not enough to annoy you to death. She goes through so many different stages before and after she is married and while I didn't necessarily agree with the choices she made, they made sense in her world and with the societal constraints she is faced with. While to Linden she seems to be accepting her new lot in live, she is constantly planning and scheming for escape. I loved that even though she has sympathy for Linden she does not let that control her and is brave enough to take chances and risk her life for the one thing she desperately wants - Freedom.
What did I not like? The suggestion that the relationship between Linden and his 13 year-old bride Cecily is one of love absolutely sickened me. I get that their world is completely screwed up, but still, child abuse is child abuse and any idea of Linden actually being a viable love interest for Rhine became absolutely revolting. Too bad the other love interest was so forgettable that I can't even remember his name. He felt more like a third wheel. Or in this case a fifth wheel since Linden and his three brides makes four. Maybe he'll make more of an impression in the next book.