By Lauren DeStefano
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2012, Simon & Schuster BFYR
Hardback, 341 pages
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.I found this book to be much grimmer than the first book, Wither. In this book, Rhine and Gabriel spend most of their time trying to escape and running from or to some place. It was rather tiring at times, and I often wondered while I was reading, Don't they need to eat more? Seriously, they subsist on almost no food until they get to the orphanage, and even then, Rhine still seems to have an anorexic-like view of any and all food. Not very realistic for teenagers, in my view.
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.
Moving on. Rhine's behavior while trapped in the carnival showed me that she can be very scatterbrained and disorganized, without any real planning abilities, even though I saw her as just the opposite in the first book. She seemed to just give in as the power of the drug "angel blood" is forced on her and Gabriel to control them. Her lack of motivation was disappointing, to say the least. The little girl she escapes with proves to be one of the most interesting variables in the whole book.
Further events once they escape seem to just delay the inevitable, but they do help to draw a more detailed picture of the world that Rhine comes from - the desperation and depravity that so much of society has sunk to as the hope of its children continues to inexplicably die. The division between those that want to continue looking for a cure and those that don't is clear, but what is not clear for most of the book is what is killing Rhine, who should still have 3 years of life to go. The horrible Vaughn of Wither is like a haunting presence throughout the book, and he has more secrets than even I can fathom.
The romance between Rhine and Gabriel is stagnated without the threat of discovery by Rhine's abandoned husband. Between escaping capture, living on the run, and futilely hunting down Rhine's brother, it has little chance to grow much at all. In fact, Rhine seemed to have more chemistry with another boy at the orphanage than she can maintain with Gabriel. Plus, Gabriel knows nothing about the world outside the mansion and is flung reeling into this life of survival that he could not have been prepared for - I can't help but feel sorry for him.
The most fascinating scene in the book is hinted at on the cover from the tarot card in Rhine's hand, but unfortunately those elements won't be covered until the final, untitled book in 2013. I look forward to a conclusion that more cleanly wraps up this series.
The Cover: The cover is much like the first cover, only the girl is wearing a different dress to match her experiences in the carnival and the carousel horse, along with a tarot card to represent a later experience in her travels. I like it.
First Line: "We run, with water in our shoes and the smell of the ocean clinging to our frozen skin."
I love the imagery of this opening line, and it reminds me of how the previous book ended.
Favorite Quote: “Momentum,' She repeats. 'You can't just stand there if you want something to fly. You have to run.”
Read For: Young Adult Challenge, Dystopia Challenge