The virus has caused a trend of kidnapping young girls and selling them to polygamous men who are anxious to bear offspring before they die. The men want to carry on the future generations, in hopes for a cure. For many of the girls, who are orphans living on the street, it's a better life for them.
But for Rhine, it's not a better life. Even though the life that her and her brother lead is tough, she is free. Unfortunately, she is tricked into answering an ad for a job and gets kidnapped. She's snatched with a group of other girls to a secret location. Three of the girls end up at a mansion where they are set up to become brides of Linden Ashby. His current bride is 20 and ill, so Linden's father is getting back-ups wives for him.
Rhine realizes that she will be trapped there for the rest of her life, if she doesn't find a way to escape. The other two girls don't seem bothered by it. They even seemed enamored with the glitzy life they will lead at the mansion. However, Rhine is determined to escape and find her brother. She doesn't care about the money, the parties, and the fancy clothes. She just wants her freedom.
Authors are getting very creative with dystopians. I thought I'd heard it all, yet this book is very original. The idea that we could eventually genetically alter humans is intriguing. Furthermore, positing that doing so could have a greater negative impact is certainly plausible to me.
This book is well written. The inner conflict that Rhine feels is realistic and honest. The other characters are believable. The variety of reactions to being kidnapped and forced to marry are portrayed well in the other two girls. The are mysteries to uncover, as well as puzzles to solve. I loved it! I'm anxious to read the next book in the trilogy. It's called FEVER.
From what I can tell, this is Lauren DeStefano's first book. We've had a lot of great first books recently! There is a great new crop of authors out there today. Certainly, DeStefano is one to watch.
Check out the author's website here, and the website for the trilogy here.