Simon & Schuster, 2011
Note: This was an advanced reader's copy.
In the not too distant future, humans attempted to genetically alter their children to be a race of super-humans. Something went wrong in the procedure, however, and now men only live to the age of 25, women to the age of 20, everyone dying from the same horrible disease. Orphans have overrun the streets and ne'er-do-wells earn a living snatching young women off the streets to be sold into polygamous marriages (or worse).
Rhine finds herself Gathered and sold to Linden Ashby, a rich 21-year-old man with a sinister father intent on finding a cure for the disease, or so he says. She is now held captive in the mansion, with only her two sister wives and a forbidden friendship with a servant to keep her company. Her only goal is to escape by any means necessary and find her way back to her twin brother.
Judging by the cover...: OMG Mandy Moore is on the cover! Okay, not really, but that's seriously what I thought when I first saw the cover up close. Aside from Mandy's cameo, this cover is gorgeous and packs quite a bit of meaning in its simple scene.
- Cinna-style - Remember Cinna from The Hunger Games? If you don't, you probably haven't read the book. I'll wait while you go read it... Welcome back. So remember Cinna? I know! How could anyone not love him? He obviously imparted some wisdom on the wives' personal servants at the Ashby mansion. The wedding gowns sounded down right heavenly and though would not be enough to convince me to marry the man who kidnapped me and two other girls, it would certainly be tempting.
- Rhine's Sister Wives - I often imagine wives in polygamous marriages to be catty and ruthless concerning each other, similar to living in an all girls' dorm in college (and I did that for three years!). But Jenna and Cecily aren't half bad, considering the circumstances.
- Fancy Dress Parties - Sigh, what I wouldn't give for a chance to show off my Cinna-inspired gown complete with dancing flames and butterflies (a girl can dream, can't she?) at an upscale ball with free-flowing Champagne amid endless holograms and television cameras.
I almost did not read this book, and if I hadn't, I would have missed out on DeStefano's crazy, creepy, fantastically rich world. Thankfully, an ARC copy landed in my hands, and from the moment I saw that beautiful cover up close I was hooked. Rhine's life is filled with such ups and downs, you'd think you were on a roller coaster. Just when I felt like all was wrong wrong wrong, Rhine would describe an invention so awe-inspiring, I'd instantly be filled with jealousy, such as the swimming pool with underwater holograms to make it feel as though you were swimming on the ocean floor. Rhine herself doesn't want to get too comfortable, and that feeling extends to the reader with the anachronistic feel to the story. The words and mannerisms often felt as if Rhine was living in the 19th century, but then she'd slip on a pair of jeans and sneakers and join her sister wives for a game of putt-putt. When I finished, I found myself hopelessly daydreaming about the day the sequel comes out.
Recommendations: Readers who were looking for more depth in Bumped by Megan McCafferty will enjoy submersing themselves in Rhine's world, and readers who enjoy asking themselves, "What would I do if I were that character?" will find that they can not stop reading until its finished.