Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: Masque of Red Death

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #1)Title: Masque of Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Series: Masque of Red Death
Volume: 1

Why I Read It: I do love a dystopian novel.

A Quick Summary: Araby lives in a world ravaged by deadly disease. Very rarely is anyone seen without the masks that filter the air- keeping them alive. Araby's dad invented these masks. She lives for parties, numbing nights at the Debauchery club, where she can forget, at least for a little while, her feelings of grief and guilt. But instead of oblivion, she finds rebellion.

What I Thought: Meh. This wasn't one for me.

I wasn't all that fond of Araby's character. I know she feels really guilty about the thing with her brother and the mask, but her response seemed kind of odd. What she does as a coping method- the parties, the drugs- seem to add more things for her to feel guilty about. Admittedly, her family haven't been all that helpful to her- her mother is timid and her father is distant. Araby doesn't have a purpose at the beginning, and this rebellion gives her that purpose.

The male love interests weren't all that interesting to me. Elliot is running the rebellion and Will is raising his siblings. This was one of those love triangles where, for the most part, I don't understand what these characters see in each other (I know that seems to happen a lot- I guess I'm picky). Araby seems to be a somewhat weak character- every time I thought that she was going to face herself, or make her decisions, she would dither or turn to the drugs. I can only assume that this is a futuristic kind of drug, she doesn't usually seem to be an addict, but she uses it to avoid handling her situation. She makes impulsive decisions, almost deliberately throws herself into bad situations and refuses to confront anything that has happened as a result of her choices. I hoped that her part in the rebellion would make her more aware, but I found that it didn't really. She seemed to be a very defeated character for much of the book.

The world in which she lives, is pretty far gone. Living in the city is miserable, people are dying and the government isn't trying to stop it. Outside of the city, it is unclear if anyone is left alive. For all they know, they are the last of humanity- and the city itself is dying. Slowly. Which, I suppose, goes a ways toward explaining Araby's mental state. Its much more defeated than many worlds in YA fiction. I have pretty much resigned the world to a plague-ridden grave and decided to bring on the giant cockroaches, because humanity was clearly on its way out of the picture.

Overall, this book wasn't to my taste. Probably because I prefer to have my hero(ine)s ready to do something, and my love interests- well- interesting.

Plagues shape humanity. They produce the bottleneck effect, they lead to medical advance, they change the way we see the world. The Black Death (Europe, the Dark Ages),  was carried by fleas (on rats, which were plentiful) and was characterized large swellings on the body and purple or black in the extremities, and around the lips toward the end, hence the name, the Black Death. The Spanish Influenza killed more people than World War II (which was how it spread so quickly, it was spread by returning soldiers). Remember after the WWII was over, you get people kissing in the streets? I wince, because everyone contaminates each other.

And yes, I do have a fascination with plagues. They're horrible, they're tragic, they're destructive, they're terrifying and their effects are incredibly fascinating.

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