This is the second novel in the series. In the first novel, Wither, we met Rhine and Gabriel. They live in a society where females die at the age of 20, and men at the age of 25. Rhine is captured and sold as a bride to a rich young man by his scheming father, Housmaster Vaughn. Gabriel is a servant in the mansion where she is brought. They escape together in the first novel.
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In the second installment of The Chemical Garden trilogy, we join Rhine and Gabriel as they make a run from the estate where they were confined. They were both treated badly, were considered slaves and had no choice of leaving the mansion where they used to live.
As they escape, they are soon captured once again by a circus/brothel operated by a strange woman. She means to exploit them by showing them as lovers. They meet another woman, prostitute Lilac, who has a child of her own - a girl named Maddie, who is physically stunted and mentally challenged. They plan their escape and manage to complete it, taking Maddie with them, but not Lilac.
After some struggle, they arrive at Rhine's address in New York, only to find her twin brother gone and her house burned down. With nowhere else to go, they go to an address written down in Maddie's picture book.
When they arrive there, they find an orphanage run by a First Generation (woman not affected by the virus which kills young people) woman. It becomes apparent that she was Lilac's mother and so is Maddie's grandmother. They decide to stay there.
Gabriel is recovering from a drug he was introduced to in the brothel, while Rhine has her own set of problems. It seems as if the virus is already taking its toll, even though she is not yet 20. Her hair is falling out, she has a fever and can barely walk.
As she comes to terms with her weakness, House Master Vaughn finds her. He mocks her and tells her to come back or he will light the house on fire. The last third of the book is very chilling as it describes terrible torture Rhine suffers in Vaughn's laboratory. He is trying to find the cure for the virus which is killing young people and stops nowhere in his search for the cure.
Best part of story, including ending:
It was again, incredibly written, beautiful character development and I especially enjoyed the tone of the novel, which was chilling.
Best scene in story:
It would have to be the torture scenes in the laboratory, they were written so well.
Opinion about the main character:
In this book, I felt like Rhine thought a little too much about herself and did not consider others.