Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 2/12/13
Length: 328 Pages
Series: The Chemical Garden #2
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they ran away from. Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse.
The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this 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 2nd installment takes us on a really tough route with Rhine and Gabriel now that they’ve managed to get out of the mansion and have ‘escaped’. There’s so much uncertainty out there in the world especially for Gabriel who has almost no memory of outside the house. We’re hoping that Rhine’s quest for freedom and her goal of finding her brother back home in Manhattan will prove to be something good.
So when we left them, they had escaped and found a boat to sail up the coast. They end up getting as far as about South Carolina from what i’ve gathered, and when they make landfall, they are hoping for the best. Sadly, they are nabbed quickly upon getting on land and this is where their first bit of trouble comes.
From what we knew of Jennas life before she was a bride, she worked by selling her body, and it’s one of those camps that we see Rhine and Gabriel taken to. Rhine of course is deemed to be quite special because of her eyes and that’s probably her only saving grace because instead of being thrown to the wolves to be tasted and sampled, the Madame has loftier goals for her in having people ‘watch but don’t touch’. So, we see that little reprive and hope that it means that they’ll be able to get to a place that’s safe but of course that doesn’t happen.
Gabriel is beaten and wounded and then hooked on a drug that literally renders him useless and that means that things will have to get even worse. Vaugh (Linden’s dad) shows up and has found Rhine some how spurring them to go on the run again. This time though, it’s not just the 2 of them, they have Maddie, the daughter of one of the women at the camp, and Maddie is malformed, she doesn’t talk but we see that she’s incredibly intuitive and helps them as they try to escape and make their way up to new york.
Things continue to go wrong for this group as they make their way up north, they find Rhine’s house but it’s burned out, Gabriel is still suffering from withdrawl, Rhine is molested by someone on the route north, and the moment they find part of what they’re looking for, Rhine starts to get so sick that she fears that the virus is taking her years early, and deems Vaughn some how responsible.
The moment you think Vaughn, he pops up, and well, we end up back at the mansion at the end of this installment. It’s a complete roller coaster, still with little insight as to what’s causing the virus and early death of their generation, and we can only hope that we get that resolution when we get through the final installment. Cecily comes back into the mix as does Linden and we see that there’s so much eye opening that has to happen and so much faith that has to be placed in places you’ never expect that it leaves us wondering if there’s going to be a happy ending for anyone.
We’re on a journey of really trying to figure out what’s right and who’s behind it. There’s a relationship growing between Rhine and Gabriel, but given where they are in life and time, you don’t even know if it’ll be worth it. We also learn more about Linden and his feelings and i think that we’ll see him become someone quite key in the mix since he’s really been lied to his whole life. So all that tied together leaves us set up for a really great finale i think. Son v. Father, and Society v. Medicine. who will win?