Customer Reviews for

Wither (Chemical Garden Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

37 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

Great book!

This book is the BOMB DIGGITY! For real. It totally exceeded my expectations and left me with wanting more. Not only was this book one unique read, it totally captured every part of me as I read it. I held my breathe as my eyes raced across the pages reading every emoti...
This book is the BOMB DIGGITY! For real. It totally exceeded my expectations and left me with wanting more. Not only was this book one unique read, it totally captured every part of me as I read it. I held my breathe as my eyes raced across the pages reading every emotion, every secret, every betrayal.

For Rhine everything is fake. She is forced to be a bride to a man she has never met or know. Forced to lived in a nice prison with other sisters wives. Though her time is short, she will not live this way. She longs for her freedom and just wants to be home safe. With danger lurking around every corner, Rhine learns everything and anything, plays the role she needs to play in order to get out.

This book is just WOW. It blew me away. Literally. I was so engrossed in the book, so connected with Rhine that I felt her angry, her pain, her longing for freedom. She was so strong. How she manages not to fall apart completely is beyond me. Poor thing had to just keep picking herself up and keep going. Rhine played her role so good, at times I thought that maybe she was giving in. That she would comply and just live the life she was given. But no, she always came back to remind herself of what is really at stake. Gabriel was nice touch to the book. He let Rhine true self come out and I loved learning about her through him.

I don't want to give to much away, but man this book is just unexplainable. You just have to read it in order to understand what I am trying to say. Ms. DeStefano, your book is complete and total awesomeness. It is the best book of 2011. Ms. DeStefano did what books are supposed to do. Take you away for an adventure of a lifetime. And this adventure, is one that I will never forget.

posted by BooksWithBite on March 7, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

Just ok

It was an "ok" easy read. However, there is nothing about these characters that will drag me into another of these books. I will admit to being a bit disappointed after all of the glowing reviews I read prior to the purchase.

posted by 7235032 on March 27, 2011

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Page 2 of 31
  • Posted January 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Good, but I had some questions in the end.

    I love the idea here. Just as society thinks they have scientifically generated a perfect life span, they are slapped in the face with ruining future generations. Those first 20 years must have been glorious. Now children are left orphaned and as time marches on we have a huge age gap in society with what is now called "first generations" entering old age and all the young dying in their twenties. Very intriguing concept. I enjoyed the main character Rhine, but truthfully she was a little boring and the supporting cast proved to hold more entertainment value. I love the commentary on how easily one can slip into comfort when ones needs are being met and how we can allow our own selves to be fooled if we want to. I also like the idea that how bad a situation really is, all depends on your past experiences and how good or bad things were before. All of this cannot be expanded upon without revealing any spoilers, but these are definite running themes through out the story.
    While the writing was fine, DeStenfano repeats herself...a lot! In the end she was still stating characteristics of characters that were already well established and believable. When you tell me flat out that someone is immature and selfish and then you show them being immature and selfish, you don't need to keep repeating that they are immature and selfish before each example of them being immature and selfish. See repeats are annoying. Over all good story but I just felt it needed some...tightening!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Thought provoking

    I really enjoyed this read. I've been on quite the dystopian kick these days, and I am not sure why because they are so depressing!

    I think I enjoyed it so much, aside from the good writing, because its not a far stretch from what could be reality... well it is but is not.

    Anyway, its worth the read(:

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012



    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012


    I love this book. If u love romance and adventure this book is for u!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    A Great Book

    I found this book very interesting, so much that I felt I was there. One of the greatet books I've read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    It was a good book, I'll give it that. But the character develop

    It was a good book, I'll give it that. But the character developement was weak and the author didn't do a very good job describing how horrible and terrifying a situation Rhine was in. The story plot line is really creative but I didn't feel a big emotional connection to Rhine.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    First, I’d like to say this: scroll back up. Look at the c

    First, I’d like to say this: scroll back up. Look at the cover of this book. Admire it. Isn’t it gorgeous? And I especially liked how the design of the book (with all the words in the boxes) was used in the dedication, title page, etc. It created the perfect feel to the book.

    Now to talking about the actual book! I loved the idea of this book. A world where people die at 20 and 25. Where people kidnap young girls like Rhine to have brides. Where people would either do anything to find a cure or would be willing to die before the end came.

    But as alluring as that sounds, I was not the happiest camper when I finished the book. I mean, Lauren DeStefano’s writing is beautiful. It creates a mystical effect that lets me just float with the book.

    But the plot ruined this effect. One thing I remember is that when my sister finished reading Wither, she said something about the book not having any real action. And I wholeheartedly agree with her. Where’s that action-packed kick-butt feeling? I live on that feeling. But I didn’t get that feeling; all I got was frustration as Rhine put her everything into escaping from Linden’s mansion, which does sound interesting, but not in this case.

    And Rhine. Rhine frustrated me. She was always concerned about escaping, escaping, escaping. I know it’s good to keep your goal in mind, but it almost made her seem like a flat character with no other characteristics. Sure, something stirred inside of her whenever she thought of Gabriel or when she protected her sister wives. But there was just a key element missing.

    I didn’t really enjoy the romance in this book. Another thing my sister had commented on was this: “I still don’t understand why Rhine is attracted to Gabriel.” I don’t either. I think I understand why Gabriel likes her, but Gabriel doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that girls swoon over. He just seemed like the rock she needed in all her misery and madness.

    Wither didn’t make me satisfied; in fact, it made me more frustrated with Rhine as a character, her romance with Gabriel, and the seemingly empty plot. Add in that terrible cliffhanger, and I’m not sure if I was that big of a fan of this novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012


    Not exactly dystopian except that people are genetically terminal at 20/25 years of age and polygamy is accepted. That and you have the US being the only surviving landmass left and theres an excessive use of holograms in a poor attempt to make the setting seem futuristic. Pretty unimaginative. Beginning is ok but then it drags and too much boring reminiscing goes on. The two stars are for the few moments of well written descriptions. I have no urge to read the second installment.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2012

    In a world where men die at the age of twenty-five and women die

    In a world where men die at the age of twenty-five and women die at the age of twenty, women face many problems in their daily life. Scientist try and create some kind of anti-dote to cure the short lived lives for the up coming generations. While this happens Gatherers capture young girls who are able to conceive babies and either sell them into a polygamy household so the population does not die off or the Gatherers kill them. When Rhine, a sixteen year old young girl, is captured she is brought to these “Ethiopian” mansion where she and two other girls marry their husband. Rhine has everything she could ever ask for except for freedom and she was determined to get that. Her and an attendant she has began to develop feelings for plan their escape to live in the world of freedom and are successful in fulfilling the plan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2012


    Wither is a story about love, torture, perserverence and friendship. In the future.


    The virus has been affecting the population, killing off the children of a perfect generation of humans. Girls die at age 20 and boys at age 25. So, the richest of the richest have turned to abducting young girls off the streets, taking them in and, of course, making babies.

    When Rhine is kidnapped and taken to a house, a mansion, to be married off to some rich guy, she doesn't know what to do with herself. All she can think of is escaping and getting back to her twin brother, a fellow orphan like herself.

    Her new husband, Linden, isn't half bad. But perhaps that is overshadowed because Rhine shares him with two other wives, not like she's jealous or anything.

    But as she strives to become Linden's favorite wife, the only way she can actually have a shot at escaping, Rhine discovers that her heart belongs to somon else, the servent, Gabriel.

    This book was really great, and though it might not sound exciting, it really is. You can read it over and over like I did and not get tired of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2012

    In this futuristic dark and somber young adult fiction, females

    In this futuristic dark and somber young adult fiction, females only live to the age of twenty and men to the age of twenty-five. Cursed by a virus which has no antidote, the fate of humanity is on the brink of extinction. As a result, Gatherers kidnap young girls and force them into polygamous marriages. Rhine, the main character, finds herself in such a situation when she is taken to marry House Governor Linden, one among the four new wives. In parallel, there is a also a race for science to find a fix for this virus which claims the lives of people so early in life.

    After hearing so much about this book, and after reading so many reviews online, this dystopia had to be read. Entering into it, there was a slight worry. The beginning is a bit strange and boring. In comparison to all the praise the book had gotten, the feeling of dissapointment was slowly seeping in. Page by page, though, the book began to take on a surprising form, indeed a vision by DeStefano that everyone had been talking about. Throughout the whole book there is a sense that Lauren DeStefano is truly a visionary. It is definitely a book that grows on you, and takes you on a journey you maybe never expected. Nonetheless, there are moments in the book when you feel the temptation to skip a few pages since there is a bit of redundancy.

    There is something unique about the word choices for this book. Words like 'burrowed,' 'sullied,' ' quells,' 'foraging,' 'wilted,' 'succumb,' 'protrude,' ' crumple,' are among the few to set the setting into this gothic and dark vision that DeStefano intended. The tone of the novel is reminiscent a little bit of old classics. Very smart choice of language. Yet, the novel fell short. Lot of reviews claim this young-adult piece of fiction to take the reader through a lot of imagery that DeStephano so cleverly creates. Far from it, it felt like the journey was more through thoughts and feelings rather than imagery.

    It would have made for even a better book, possibly, if the subject of genetics and science was more thoroughly carried out. This was the highlight of scientific bacground.

    "Seventy years ago science perfected the art of children. There were complete cures for an epidemic known as cancer, a disease that could affect any part of the body and that used to claim millions of lives. Immune system boosts given to the new-generation children eradicated allergies and seasonal ailments, and even protected against sexually contracted viruses. Flawed natural children ceased to be conceived in favor of this new technology. A generation of perfectly engineered embryos assured a healthy, sucessful population. Most of that generation is still alive, approaching old age gracefully. They are fearless first generation, practically immortal.

    No one could ever have anticipated the horrible aftermath of such a sturdy generation of children. While the first generation did, and still does, thrive, something went wrong with their children, and their children's children."

    Fantastic premise. Why not elaborate on why that happened? Why is there no antidote? What has been tried and how has it failed? The story just gets worse and worse and plenty of questions get left unanswered. While the book is unique in its vision, style, and tone, it falls short quite a few ways. I hope the next in the series will give more to chew on this subject.

    Why you should read this book: If you are a fan of young adult books, this is definitely one you don't want to miss. It's quite a unique vision for a dystopia, but be aware that you might feel some dissapointment with it. Chance also are that you might be completely taken by it. You will either love it or be seriously ambiguous about it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2012

    I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Despite DeStefano&rs

    I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Despite DeStefano’s world seeming to be even less of a believable concept than that of Ally Condie’s Matched (whose world building issues were discussed at length here), I believed in it—which I hadn’t believed I would. How could anyone make both extremely short life spans and polygamous marriages work, right? Apparently, DeStefano—very well, I might add. But onto that in a minute…

    Let’s get what I didn’t like out of the way first, shall we? There were two things that really got to me: 1) Rhine and Gabriel and 2) the “tempo” of the plot. The relationship between Rhine and Gabriel might have been more of an issue with my personal taste, but it just felt forced. First they’re friends and then they’re kissing and then they’re friends and then they’ve got their hands on each other and then they’re friends again. I was honestly quite baffled by their relationship. It felt like a sincere friendship, but the story seemed to be trying to force it into something more. Clearly these two have a relationship coming in the next book, but I would have preferred to see them as just honest friends in Wither (which was done well in the spots where they were just friends).

    The tempo of the plot was a much bigger issue, though there’s really less to say on it. There was certainly things happening and I could barely stop reading, but the book never affected by heart rate if you know what I mean. There were certainly points where the plot got to me, but they were more flashes than anything else.

    But you can bet your life I’ll be reading the second book in this trilogy, titled Fever and expected February 21, 2012. Why? Because of everything DeStefano did right, and her way with words. Perhaps her way with words is one reason the plot never got to my heart rate—sometimes short and succinct are better and more gripping, aspiring writers!—but I refuse to put too much blame there because she has a way with words. Descriptions, analogies, etc—I wanted to write them down and steal them.

    Also, polygamy. No matter your feelings on the subject, that’s a tough thing to write about. DeStefano never blinks. You’re never given the feeling that the marriages are right, but they never feel contrived either. How she managed to make polygamy feel like a societal convention but wrong at the same time is beyond me and I like it.

    All and all, I think dystopian fans should definitely give Wither a shot. Unlike Matched, which was very romance oriented, Wither felt much deeper and plot oriented, with just enough romance to keep romance lovers happy but not turn off people who think YA romance should be burnt. Relationships in the book—such as the friendship between Rhine and Gabriel and the camaraderie between the sister wives—are excellently written and feel decidedly real. It hints at moral questions but doesn’t get preachy. In a nutshell, I found Wither to be a fine addition to the dystopian titles exploding off the shelves right now. If you enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth and/or Matched, I totally recommend that you give it a shot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Purty good

    In my opinion, some parts of the plot can be confusing. One, because Linden has three wives. Not divorced. Not cheating. He just has three wives. One young, one medium(aka Rhine), and one oldish. It was okay but something about this book was off. Plus the fathee of linden is so freaky scary. If you read this,youll know.

    Well, wha i loved best about this book was the cover. It was just absolutely gorgeus. If you look closed each item circled on the cover symbolizes something about the book. Like her wedding ring is circled which means shes married to Linden. The bird in the cage symbolizes she wants to break free from you know the wraths and rules of linden and his dad.its so cool. Youll figure it out if you read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    Shumate schools

    Our class thinks this is a fantastic book,with well developed characters and an interesting plot.Our class would recomend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Wither- A colourful debut about a young woman trying to escape the promiscuous society and gloomy world she¿s captured in!

    We are directly thrown into the story of Rhine, who is captured with two other young women, Jenna and Cecily, to please a rich doctor’s son, always locked away in a gigantic house surrounded by an even larger garden.

    There are only a few different characters, nonetheless their possible reactions to each other are always unpredictable.
    Rhine felt like a very authentic character to me, really easy to get acquainted with. She is not only exceptional in looks, but also differs emotionally from her kidnapped co-brides. I like her name, Rhine, originating from the European river, lets always associations pop up in my head, because I cross this river almost every day, quiet funny.

    DeStefano has a talent to portray exceptional characters full of contrasts. Rhine and her fellow bride sisters couldn’t be more different. Jenna is special for her compassion and loyalty, Cecily for her childish and naïve personality.But beside these innocent young girls, there are also cruel and malicious characters that cause great conflicts.

    Wither offers many different types of love stories, although the major romance might develop between Rhine and Gabriel. Still that doesn’t keep me from analysing other relationships between our given characters and questioning their morals.
    We get to know our characters very well, relationships are featured, but a general love story comes off badly. I realize that under the given circumstances a grand and romantic love story between Rhine and Gabriel is not really possible or inappropriate and so I hope for deeper insights in their thoughts and feelings in Wither’s sequel.

    All characters are always circling around one setting and the other characters. Over almost the whole novel not much happens and I rather see Wither as a character study, like an initial experiment that has potential to lead to larger events and purposes in its sequel. Probably the action is hold back so that the main focus lies on the characters and the dystopian world.

    The setting and even actions are limited, the pace is rather slow. Sometimes we get glimpses of Rhine’s life back in freedom, how she lived with her twin brother (who has become one of my favourite characters without even meeting him), but that is not enough to still my desire to explore Wither’s world.

    Wither is set in a dystopian world, futuristic… and sick. All its new inventions and beautiful illusions cannot hide the fact that humanity’s situation is a sad one. Men only got a life expectation of 25 years, women 20 years. That idea is thrilling, adds urgency to the character’s actions and is scary at the same time.
    I always wondered how the story is supposed to develop with such a limited time span to develop actions, as our protagonist is 16-years-old, she has got four years left till she dies a painful death. Furthermore thinking of all the possibilities for our human race and that I would already be dead in such a world made me really sad.
    Although DeStefano didn’t make me turning page after page restlessly, she had me emotionally involved.

    Wither’s world is a super interesting construct that leaves many possibilities for future events. There is science and medical research involved, really interesting disciplines. No hard violence, sex or drugs are discussed, still this novel felt like a heavy read, because it deals with the social morals of our present society in comparison with Wither’s society. Polygamy, kidnapping and stealing from the dead are r

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2012

    A Great Start To The Chemical Garden Trilogy!

    Firstly, I loved this cover. It was what drew me to the book in the first place. I had been looking for new books to read and came across Wither in my travels. I have only read a couple of Dystopian books before and I find I really like the genre. So I knew I had to give this a go.
    It sat on my shelf for a while before I finally got the time to read it, but what with getting the ARC of FEVER (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #2) I knew I had to read it soon so that I am up to speed.

    From the moment I picked it up, I knew I would enjoy this book. I don't know what it is but sometimes I just get this feeling that I will like something and I do.
    I love the way Lauren DeStefano writes. It's lyrical and beautiful. Wither had me laughing, swearing and fighting tears along the way.

    Thanks to a botched attempt to create the perfect human race, all males will die at the age of 25 and females at the age of 20. Geneticists may be trying to find a cure, but is it really likely to work? Is there more to life than marrying, having children and dying at such a young age?

    Rhine is a 16 year old girl, so she has 4 years left before she dies. As if that wasn't bad enough, she is kidnapped and forced into marrying 20 year old Linden. He falls hopelessly in love with Rhine and though she would like to, she can't seem to find it in her to hate him. Even though the way in which they married was somewhat less than Rhine desired, she can't help but feel a little sorry for Linden as his life seems to be ruled by his father, Vaughn.
    So she finds herself living in a mansion with her husband and her two sister wives, Cecily and Jenna. Yes, you read that right, Linden has not only one wife but three!
    Rhine is desperate to find a way of letting her twin brother know that she is okay. She is desperate to be free. She can't spend the last years of her life trapped in a mansion with a husband she doesn't love, two sister wives and a monster of a father-in-law. (I can't tell you why, but trust me, Vaughn is a despicable excuse for a human being)
    When she finds herself drawn to Gabriel, a servant, she encourages him to break free, to go out and discover the world that lies beyond the grounds of the mansion.

    Will Rhine and Gabriel be able to escape the clutches of this mansion and it's inhabitants? Is there really any hope for freedom?

    I have to say, I found this story to be interesting, exciting, fast-paced and very well written. I really have high hopes for the next 2 books in the trilogy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A call-to-arms to make the most of the time you've been granted

    Lauren DeStefano's debut novel Wither is dystopian to the max. It embodies all of the genre's integral components - a lack of free will, an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, a foreboding sense of impending death. Our guide into this bleak, colorless world is Rhine, a 16-year-old girl who was kidnapped and sold into an arranged marriage. Her polygamist husband, Linden, sets her up in the lap of luxury. The kicker is - they'll both be dead in a few years since a genetic experiment gone wrong has infiltrated the population limiting the average lifespan to 25 years for males and 20 years for females. To keep the human race going, young girls must breed, and breed quickly. However, there's a problem - Rhine refuses to consummate their marriage.

    What enfolds is a series of mind games between those with power and those without. The resident puppet master is Housemaster Vaughn, Linden's sociopath father and member of the long-living "first generation." As a manipulative mad scientist, his basement holds a chamber of horrors where he conducts fruitless experiments in a desperate attempt to extend his son's life. He is the one holding the keys to the castle. No one gets in or out without him knowing. He is a jailer, pimp and grandfather figure rolled into one.

    The most intriguing interaction occurs between Rhine and her sister wives. Jenna, the eldest, is street smart. She's jaded, wary and under no false delusions that the world around her is fair. She knows in Linden's eyes she is just a body to impregnate. She gives in to his advances, but does not surrender her heart. Her aloofness is her only form of protection. While Jenna remains barren, the youngest wife, Cecily, becomes pregnant almost immediately. She fluctuates between extremes. On the one hand, she's a 13-year-old with a schoolgirl crush on her husband and on the other, she's a spoiled, demanding diva. While Jenna keeps secrets, Cecily tells them since she is willfully oblivious to the danger lurking behind every frilly dress and shiny candy wrapper.

    The bright spot in Rhine's life is the servant, Gabriel. In him, she finds a confidant, and someone she is genuinely attracted to. It is her first experience with true love. She knows Linden does not love her, but is pining for his now-deceased first wife. In an attempt to compensate for his loss, he yearns for Rhine to occupy the physical space that she held. He wants to project his feelings onto her as a new outlet for his dormant affections. Rhine tolerates being a placeholder up to a point, but her heart belongs to Gabriel. While Linden might dress her up and show her off at fancy parties, Gabriel is the one who will risk everything to free her from her gilded cage.

    As the first installment in a planned trilogy, Wither closes with a cliffhanger ending. Help comes from an unexpected source and the possibility of hope is reborn. However, what was once a defined waiting game turns into a frenzied hunt for prey. Some have already succumbed to the dreaded early death while others know it is only a matter of time before they too will wither and die. Will Rhine get to experience love, hope and freedom before it's too late?

    Overall, a call-to-arms to make the most of the time you've been granted.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Review from Worn Pages and Dusty Shelves

    If this book were real, I'd be dead by now.

    The synopsis of the book is kind of mind-boggling. A book about
    teenage girls who are kidnapped and forced/sold into a marriage...with
    more than one wife! Not only are they married, but they have to have
    children as well. It doesn't sound like your typical YA novel. It
    sounds like a fire-starter.

    You meet Rhine, who right from the start is kidnapped. The only thing
    that spares her life is her odd eyes and her uncanny look-a-like to
    the first wife, Rose, Rhines soon-to-be sister wife. Linden, the man,
    Rhine marries, takes two more wives- a 13 year old and a 18/19 year
    old. This is where some people will stop and say, "This book isn't
    for me." It's something you have to look past.

    Rhine is determined to escape from the life that she has been sold
    into. Along the way she meets Gabriel, a love interest that doesn't
    feel like a love interest- more like a best friend, if that. Linden
    is more the love interest than anything else and he is actually the
    one you end up liking. The reason is Gabriel has little book time,
    a mention here, a mention there, a scene here. I ended up forgetting
    about him until he was mentioned.

    There are plot holes, not enough to make you fall through, but enough
    to make you stop and ask why. Rhine is the sort of character you like,
    up until you realize she has to have help from everyone and is
    extremely indecisive.

    Wither is strange and slightly unbelievable.  While cancer has been
    cured, diseases can be prevented, babies are born free of
    disabilities, but at a price. They are now genetically engineered,
    causing females to only live to be 20, while the males live until
    they are 25. What's unbelievable is that they've cured cancer, but
    they've been floundering 50 years and haven't figured out what's
    wrong with the newer generations.

    Despite certain things mentioned above, the book is good. Good enough
    to make you sit and read and not get bored. Good enough to make you
    sympathize and want to finish. Unfortunately, I don't think it has a
    quality that will make you want to read it over and over again.

    Potential was high, and I hope the second book in the series reaches
    past that.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2015



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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2014

    One of my favorite books

    One of my favorite books

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