Friday, May 4, 2012
Masque of the Red Death
Greenwillow Books, 2012
YA Steampunk Apocalyptic
Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
I was very excited to start this book. Not only am I a big fan of Poe (author of short story "The Masque of the Red Death," an inspiration for this story) but I saw a lot of rave reviews. Additionally I knew there was a boy named Will and I adore YA boys named Will.
It started out well, very dark and atmospheric with each page adding to the bleakness and overall gloom. This could be classified as a mash-up of a lot of genres with steampunk and apocalyptic being the most present. I really admire the work an author puts into their writing to combine the discrete elements. However for me as a reader, I tend to prefer to read about places I would like to go to...and there is no way I'd want to visit this world. Most of the population has been decimated by disease with only the very wealthy now able to afford the life-saving masks and the poor scrambling.
Prince Prospero, from the original story, technically owns the city while hiding in his own palace, ignoring the plight of the people. He is a terrifying presence although he is only in the book a little. Instead our focus is on main character Araby, daughter of the inventor of the masks and only half-alive after losing her twin brother years earlier. The only time she feels anything is when she goes to the Debauchery Club with her friend April. This is also the place that leads her to two very different boys.
I would be remiss to not mention that this book features a love triangle with the two guys. I did not like Elliott, a cold and manipulative person. Whereas Will saw Araby as a person with thoughts and feelings, Elliott saw the ways he could use her position to further his own aims. His professions of perhaps falling for her left me cold. For the most part, I did like Will (although as stated above, I was predisposed toward him). Toward the end, he did something that left me very upset even while I found it fitting with his character. Thus was I turned off of the love triangle.
Overall: Too dark for me; as the book progressed, I found myself sadder and sadder, sinking under the gloom. I can handle it for a short story but not novel-length. Recommended for the more stalwart reader.
Cover: Very appropriate although I wish we could see more of the mask. I still have trouble imagining exactly how it looks.