Masque of the Red Death- Bethany Griffin(2 out of 5)

YA book blogger nation is probably going to burn me at the stake, Nathaniel Hawthorne-style, for posting this. Honestly above all else, or don’t bother writing a book blog(or a blog of any kind, for that matter.). I won this in a giveaway(I’ll be damned if I can tell you from where, though…blame old age or Duran Duran performing on Good Morning America, either one is correct). Every single blog I read gave this an awesome rating. Well, I can’t, in good conscience, do that. I think it’s a book I will have to revisit at a later date, and maybe then I can come in and post a retraction(do bloggers do that?). 

Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s classic of the same name, this is a story of a time where the plague went rampant and killed millions. It’s also a look at what an epidemic of that magnitude forces people to do and the actions they take, are some of the least humane possible, and yet you feel they must do what they must to survive. Even knowing this while reading it, didn’t save it. I got through the first 132 pages easy, but I wasn’t grasping onto any of the characters. That’s usually a sign of things to come, as far as my take on the book.

Araby is a typical teenager by day, but by night, she and her friend April dress in scandalous clothes, do their hair and makeup in a startling fashion, and go to visit The Debauchery Club, where they can drink, take pills, and lose themselves in less-than-reputable men. The way that Griffin paints the world is fantastic. There are elements of steampunk throughout, and that’s a genre I’m just starting to read. That intrigued me. The character of Araby, though, is where I hit some issues. She’s torn between two men- Will, whom she loves and works a hard life and tries to take care of his little family unit, and Eliot, the mysterious aristocrat, who duels with her verbally and intrigues her. I get the Cain and Abel feel with those two; not sure why. Her younger brother died from the plague and neither of her parents have recovered. Araby’s recovery involves doing some really dumb and insipid things and that’s where she and her friend April get into trouble. They’re drugged one night while at the Debauchery Club, and April disappears. Araby’s panicked, but not so much that she can’t flirt with Will, question and antagonize Eliot, and piss off her parents to the point their home and lives are threatened. I think Araby is a little shallow and immature, even for her literary age. Something about her makes me disgusted. It’s hard to give a shit when you want to smack some common sense into the lead heroine of the piece. Will is a strange entity himself- I think out of the entire cast the only one I really got a kick out of was the dastardly Eliot. Something about the rest of the story and the resolution, left me feeling empty and incredibly bored. I just did not dig this book as much as I had hoped(and most of my friends did enjoy it. 

Bethany Griffin knows how to write a great period piece. Her descriptions of that time period and vivid imagery are incredibly detailed and you feel as if you’re standing there. It was the characters and their shallowness that sent me over the edge of not liking this book. The cover, of course, is awesome. I don’t think Edgar Allen Poe would’ve dug this. While dark in parts(it has to be, if the plague is involved), it’s too much “I want to get drunk, I want to party, I want to make out with the forbidden boys, and oh no, I’m in love with this guy, and my parents hate me, and I miss my brother, but can I get some drugs, another drink, and another sequinned flapper gown?” for my tastes to garner  more than a two-star review. 

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~ by generationgbooks on June 18, 2012.

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