Science perfected the human body seventy years ago. All illnesses such as cancer and even allergies were eradicated. Soon natural selection was pushed aside for the new technology of healthy children. This first generation is approaching old age gracefully and is practically immortal. Their own children are an entirely different matter. Something has gone terribly wrong. The life span for males stops at age twenty-five and at twenty for females. For the past fifty years, the first generation has watched its children die and the wealthy households will not concede defeat. Young girls are collected/kidnapped by the Gatherers for a profit to breed new children for the wealthy. People are frantically searching for a cure for the virus.
Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery has been chosen by the Gatherers. Distinctive with her two different colored eyes, she and a van load of other girls are transported to Florida where three are chosen. The rest are killed. When Rhine awakes, she finds out that she is to become one of the new wives to twenty-one year old Linden Ashby, the house governor. Rhine and her fellow sister wives, Jenna and Cecily, reside on a floor to themselves along with Linden’s first wife, Rose. Rose has just turned twenty and is sick with the virus and dying. Rhine soon strikes up a friendship with Rose. Rose fills her in about their husband and makes Rose promise to look after Linden after her death. It’s a promise Rhine doesn’t intend to keep.
Soon Rhine and her sister wives each find their separate niches in the household. Young Cecily is enjoying her new role and aims to please their new husband. Jenna keeps to herself and observes all that is going on. Rhine continues to dream and look for a way to escape back to Manhattan and her brother Rowan. She begins to confide in her attendant Gabriel and soon sparks begin to fly. But life in the mansion isn’t free. Linden’s father, housemaster Vaughn, keeps the girls on tight leashes, especially Rhine. As time goes on, Rhine begins to learn all of the intricacies and intimacies of her new family, the good and the bad.
Will Rhine accept her new role as one of Linden’s wives or does she find a way to escape from underneath Housemaster Vaughn’s control? What secrets does she uncover along the way? Who among the wives has the first baby? Is Linden really as clueless about his father as he seems? Join Rhine’s journey as she struggles to make the most of the hand she has been dealt?
Book two in the trilogy, Fever is due out February 2011.
Visit Lauren DeStefano’s website.
Visit the Chemical Garden Trilogy website.