Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (4 Stars)

Masque of the Red Death

By: Bethany Griffin

(4 Stars)

  • ISBN-13: 9780062107794
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Pages: 319
  • Sales rank: 1,333
  • Age range: 14 years

Summary: This is a cross between a steampunk and dystopian novel. Araby is the daughter of a scientist who “saved humanity” by creating a mask that could save someone from catching the plague. We follow her through several bumps in her otherwise numb existence. At the beginning, Araby goes to The Debauchery Club with her friend April. The first love interest, Will, is a bouncer of sorts who checks every patron one at a time to ensure they are not sick before they enter the club. It is a very exclusive club owned by the prince, who is April’s uncle. The two girls drink and Araby finds her way to a drug dealer who sticks her with a syringe that leads her into oblivion. She ends up waking up at Will’s home. He didn’t think it would be good for the club if there was a dead girl found inside, but as the story progresses we find out that he was intrigued with her long before he took her home. The city that the club and Will’s home is in is called the lower city. It is filled with crime, disease, and danger. Will walks Araby back to the upper city where she lives in the prince’s old penthouse at the top of the Akkadian Towers. She believes that she is in love with Will and wants to help him. She does this by sending him food and attempting to get a mask for the younger brother that he cares for. However, there is a rebel group that is terrorizing the city. They have destroyed churches, and just when Araby wants to order a mask, they blow up the mask factory as well. This brings the second love interest, Elliot, out of the woodwork. Elliot is April’s older brother. He meets with Araby in a secret location and talk her into his version of a rebellion to take the city back from the prince and make everything better. From her, Araby is led into several dangerous encounters with people she wouldn’t have ended up around without the help from the two boys. Will she survive the death of the plague, the new sickness (the Red Death has to show up somewhere you know), the betrayal from those she trusts, and the general chaos of the city, or will she finally succumb to her need to feel numb and give in to the temptation of death and not dealing with anything?

My thoughts: I’m always drawn in by pretty covers, and this one is gorgeous! It caught my eye months ago as bloggers began talking about it. I was lucky to snatch myself a copy because it was in such high demand. At the beginning, I did not like the story. April is annoying and Araby is not much better. It was like having Gossip Girl in a pretty cool setting. Griffin does an amazing job at world building, and that is what kept me reading. The setting and the ancillary city came alive to me. I could picture everything. It was this that haunted me throughout the day when I wasn’t reading. I found myself wanting to pick the book up more and more because I wanted to see where Griffin would take me, and the characters became a means to get there. It took about 100 pages for me to start liking Araby. I believe that is when she stops being so numb and starts thinking about the world around her. From that point on, I couldn’t put the book down. I know it shouldn’t take 100 pages for someone to get into a young adult novel, but it felt worth it to me. The fact that Griffin gave me so much background on the place and people that surround the main characters made me feel like I knew them better as the action began to unravel. It has also made me feel like the second book will grab me faster. My suggestion, if you are not immediately sucked in, is to lose yourself in the setting as I did and let yourself be intrigued by it as you would for a science fiction novel. My hope is that you will end up liking the book as much as I did.

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