The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 1
Finished: Mar. 14, 2011
First Published: Mar. 22, 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA, dystopia, science fiction
I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster US.
Reason for Reading: I love dystopian novels and this sounded fantastic.
And fantastic it was! Absolutely fantastic! The first book in a trilogy hasn't excited me this much since The Hunger Games (not that this is anything like it). A brutal future world where an entire generation has been artificially conceived but they have cured disease, no more cancer, no more AIDS, no more heart disease. What this first generation didn't know, until 20 years later, though was that their own naturally conceived children were ticking time bombs. Females now only live until 20 years of age, and males to the ripe old age of 25 then they succumb to "the virus". For seventy years now the first generation, who also have conquered the rapidness of aging, have been trying to find a cure for their children but they have separated into two factions by this time: those who want to find a cure, and the pro-naturalists who say it's time to let nature take its course and want to stop the breeding of infants for the purpose of experimenting on them.
It is in this world that Rhine is kidnapped along with a van full of other girls by a wealthy father looking for wives for his son. The son chooses three and they are forced to marry the 20yo and become his wives. In their captivity the sister wives, form a unique bond with each other. Each comes from a different background and situation, dealing with their kidnapping/captivity and forced marriage in different ways. Rhine is the only one with a will to escape.
Wonderful. wonderful. wonderful. Right from the first chapter I was addicted to this story. It swept me up into a horrible possible future that is brutal and repugnant. The young either live in poverty as third generation orphans or as rich socialites in decadence with no moral values as life is literally too short to waste on virtues. The ethical questions give one much thought, especially about finding a cure vs. experiments on babies or the question of how terrible is it to kidnap street women and starving orphans so they live the rest of a short life in opulence versus leaving their freedom behind? My enjoyment of a dystopian novel always hinges on whether I believe the major situation is possible. While I don't believe that our current society is headed towards perfecting a genetically altered artificially conceived disease free generation. I do, however, believe the current dwindling replacement population crises will have many profound repercussions on the future generations even if something is done immediately, which is hardly likely. Women are already kidnapped for use in prostitution in today's world, it is hardly unrealistic to think they would be kidnapped for use as wives and breeders by the wealthy in this futuristic world with no religion or moral values.
DeStephano has created a fascinating concept with many layers, and even added a tiny touch of romance. This is a riveting book and I can hardly wait for the next book in the trilogy to be published.