What if you knew exactly when you would die?
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 Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.I love the premise of this story. It is an unusual YA story and not typical in that genre at all. The world in which Rhine inhabits does not need much explanation to find it dangerous and desperate. The author does the set up for this world well. And although you do feel the horror of capture with Rhine and the other girls, it does not last nor do I feel it as confining as I should; however, it is still not a world in which I would want to live.
With this story, Rhine finds that her nemesis, Housemaster Vaughn entirely creepy, and I would agree. I think he was the perfect villain in this story. His experiments were secret and he had the true control over the household and the wives, not her husband, Linden. However, and this is where I part from others who loved the book, I wanted that mystery solved. I wanted that tension and horror in my book. Instead we had more of Rhine bumbling along trying to escape. On one hand, it makes sense. What else would a 16 year old want more than freedom? On the other hand, the mystery and danger was held by Vaughn and what her husband would or wouldn't do to defy his father is what I wanted played out here. Plus, I had many scenarios in my head as to what was really behind Vaughn's experiments and the cryptic warnings Rhine received from the other sister-wives.
I do realize that this is a trilogy and so my answers may lie in the other books. I just think my disappointment lied in the ending which seemed reminiscent of the Handmaiden's Tale. I just wanted it taken further, but perhaps I will find out why it was taken in this way as the Chemical Garden winds through the other 2 stories.
I give this book 3 stars. I have parts of this book I'd really like to discuss, but won't since it would be huge spoilers within the plot. I obviously found the story interesting and often I did feel like I was on the edge of my seat for much of the story waiting for the dangerous act. Perhaps that is why I was disappointed in the ending. However, I will be looking forward to the other books and see where I am taken and what lies in that basement where Vaughn toils away. Oh, and this book is published today!
I received this ARC from the publisher and no compensation for my review was given.