I read this ebook for free on Riveted thanks to Simon & Schuster.
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years–leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek 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 sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet 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 has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.
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?
Blissfully Dark & Brazen
My readers know I love a good dark YA novel and this one does not disappoint. Dealing with themes of kidnapping, forced marriages, human experimentation, and much more, this is well within the realm of dark fiction and I commend the blatant bluntness with which it approaches such topics. After all, not everyone gets a happy ending. Not every story is filled with excessive fluff and the raw emotional destructive reality of this story was what kept me drawn in until the end.
That being said, I was quite disappointed with the pace of the plot. It started off fast. I was actually caught off guard by the way I, the reader, was thrown into the midst of the story, but it kind of tapered off from there. What’s more, it fell into a series of scene repetition. While the events in the story weren’t identical, they had a certain mirrorism with earlier scenes in the book that left the second half wanting for more, original plot points.
Female Character Variety
One of the points I most advocate in YA fiction is non-trope female characters and this is a perfect example of what I’m looking for. The main character, Rhine, is both weak and character. Yet, two other females in the story offer stark contrasts to her personality and her beliefs, and neither are portrayed in a negative light. Thus, the story offers up a variety of options for what a teenage girl can be. For that, I respect and appreciate this story.