Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Date Started: April 1
Date Finished: April 1
Format: Hardcover from the library co-op
I’ve read a lot of dystopian novels over the last couple of years, but this one is really, really…strange. If you’ve ever read The Road, it’s that level of strange only for the YA set. Most of the world has fallen to the Weeping Sickness; even now there is fear of contagion to those who still live. Bodies are removed by carts and dumped into the swamp for the crocodiles to have. Those who can afford them wear masks to breathe in clean air without risk of contagion. There’s a prince who rules the world, but he is as twisted as they come.
Araby is the daughter of the scientist who was responsible for the population to wear masks. She used to have a brother named Finn, but he died from the sickness. Before they lived in the penthouse of a hotel building, Araby and her father used to live underground. Her mother worked as a pianist for the prince. Araby has never really forgiven her mother for abandoning them in their time of need. Now that she lives aboveground she hangs around with the prince’s niece April who saved her life the day they met. They spend their nights at the Debauchery Club where Araby desperately seeks oblivion and finds the checker at the door attractive. But she can never act on those attractions, not with the vow that she has made.
That vow and everything she knows is severely tested when Elliott – April’s brother – comes to enlist her services. The prince is a tyrant and Elliott is championing a rebellion against them, to have any sort of success he needs the plans for the masks that Araby’s father has. She agrees to steal them for him and joins the cause, but there’s something twisted in him too. He always claims that she shouldn’t trust him, which forces her into the arms of Will – the checker from the club – but with a new disease spreading can she really trust anyone at all?
Like I said before this dystopian novel was different than any I’ve read before. Yes, I’ve read books where there is a rebellion of the government and where a disease has demolished the world’s population. But I haven’t read a book where the disease that killed the world still exists and mutates. With that in mind, it’s kind of easy to forget about the masks that people have to wear – until Araby brings it up every few pages or so. Another thing that was different was the fact that there are two rebellions going on at the same time. One that believes in the science that’s saved them just not the prince and one that doesn’t believe that the silence has saved them and in the prince.
Araby is a strange female heroine because she doesn’t have any good qualities to her. She’s vain. She’s a coward. She actually wants to die. But some of that changes when she gets to know Will and his brother and sister. She wants to help them, which I think pushes her into the rebellion. Will and Elliott are odd candidates for the love triangle too. I mean, yes, Will is pretty much awesome. He saves Araby and takes care of his younger brother and sister to the best of his ability. And he also tries to get Araby to open up more and realize that Finn’s death isn’t her fault. But…I don’t know I never felt one hundred percent comfortable with him as Araby’s love interest. Elliott on the other hand, is brusque and twisted mostly because of his up bringing. He doesn’t want Araby to trust him but tells her that after he tells her that he’s falling for her. He doesn’t have any mind for Araby’s safety, but then he comforts her when she has a nightmare while at the prince’s palace and saves her life (frantically to boot) when the prince tries to poison her.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Another dystopian with a love triangle and a few rebellions, but not the normal formula that has been used in the past. The characters are odd and not really worth cheering for until you can’t help but cheer for them in the end. The ending leaves me wondering about what we’ll find in the next book. Did Araby’s father survive? Who will Araby chose now that Will has betrayed her? And will the rebellion succeed?
Bookshelf worthy? As interesting as this book was, still support your local library!