By Lauren DeStephano
Chemical Garden – Book 2
Available 21 February 2012
Have you read Wither, the first book in this series? If not you should check that out first since the description does contain spoilers.
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.
Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.
The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary.
In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.
This Blonde’s Review:
Rhine is determined to get home to her twin brother, Rowan. Gabriel is determined to stay with her, even if it means being in dangerous situations that make him wish he was back at the mansion. They believe they’re free but are immediately taken into a carnival against their will. The woman who runs the carnival is actually a madam, selling the girls to the men who come seeking their company. With Gabriel kept heavily sedated and Rhine unwilling to leave him, they soon find themselves doing what they’re told. At least until her real plans for Rhine become obvious and the pair know they have to escape. When Vaughn, her father in law, shows up they know their time is up.
Their escape doesn’t go as well as planned and they soon find themselves with an injured young child. They soon make their way to a safe place. Rhine discovers that her brother is no longer at home and she’s determined to find him. While looking for him she finds that he has changed more than she ever expected. She won’t give up on looking for him, but Rhine isn’t well. She isn’t old enough to be affected by the genetic problems that have shortened lifespans but her symptoms are similar. Rhine is in denial that anything is wrong with her, but when Vaughn shows up again she accepts that she can’t escape him. She finds herself back at the Mansion, where life has changed more than she expected.
Rhine and Gabriel’s relationship felt more convenient than real in the first book, and it continues that way in the second. They care about each other, but there are many situations where Rhine seems more concerned for the way they are being perceived instead of the way she really feels. Rhine is an imperfect character, but she is still one we can care about. I still feel a distance from Gabriel like I don’t know much about him, I’m more interested in Rhine and Rowan than Rhine and Gabriel, since it is clear that Rowan will always mean more to her than anyone else.
Rhine keeps some of her belongings from the mansion with her, but neither of them consider this when Vaughn finds them. When he finds her again I expected Rhine to become suspicious of how he finds her rather than blindly accepting that she can’t escape him. This felt very unobservant to me, since someone who wants to escape should be considering the reasons they are found so easily.
I did feel a few things were rushed, but even with all that happens in this book I didn’t feel like it was rushed overall. I really enjoyed seeing Rhine and Gabriel interact in several different situations, since it does give us more insight into their character. In Fever we meet new characters who show us more about the world they’re all living in since lifespans have been shortened.
This story is fascinating to me and I find Rhine fascinating. She has led a different life than many others her age. She had her parents and then her brother with her for longer than some, and she was always protected. She sees the world differently than others do and it makes her an interesting character to get to know. Now we have the idea that there may be more to her than she realizes, something that could change everything. I can’t wait to read the third book in this series to find out what she knows or has that makes her so valuable.
This is a story about a world where women are forced to marry young before they die and a girl who refuses to accept that for herself. If a girl struggling to survive a world where genetics are working against her sounds like someone you’d like to read about then you should pick up the Chemical Garden series and find out.