Release: April 24, 2012
Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
You know how some books just stay with you? You think about them when you're not reading them and by the time you finish you realize the book has somehow crept into your soul? That's how I feel about Griffin's Masque of the Red Death.
Griffin's writing style will not be for everyone. Her writing is sparse. There are no extra words wasted and no overly descriptive paragraphs. She gets the most bang for her buck when it comes to words. And man, does she get a bang! This book was not even close to what I thought it would be like. For some reason I went into this thinking it was a YA zombie book...its not. The affliction in Masque is a nasty airborne disease that has spread throughout the world. People who catch the disease develop puss filled boils and a fever, and they eventually die. Araby's city lives in fear of catching the disease, and the rich people of the city wear porcelain masks with built in filters in them that keep them safe.
Araby is unique from most of the others in the city in that her father is actually the scientist who invented the mask. This means that her family now lives in a high rise apartment building. But Araby's life was not always so glamorous, and part of what sucks you into this story is finding out about her life and her secrets - as well as her family's secrets - bit by bit as the story moves along. In fact, the development of the characters throughout the story is probably the book's main strength. When I was only about halfway through, I was thinking this would get four stars. But as the story went on and things kept changing and happening I was awed and by the time it was over I was ready to give Griffin five glowing stars! This is a dark story for sure. I can see how this one might not be loved by everyone, but I have always loved the darker books so I was completely entranced.
Araby is unusual for a YA heroine. In fact, she would be unusual for a heroine at any age. When the story begins, we can tell that she is extremely depressed and living a fake sort of life to get through the day. She takes drugs that send her into oblivion, and lets her friend, April, paint her up in glittery makeup and dye her hair colors and take her a few times a week to a club downtown. But its obvious that she is in pain, and the unfolding of the story behind that is gripping to say the least.
Araby has a slight crush on Will, who works at the club as the guy who takes everyone's blood and breath samples as they come in the door to make sure they're not contaminated. Their relationship grows and we learn more about Will, who is sweet and caring, but at the same time dangerous looking and covered in tattoos. Araby also meets Elliot, April's brother. He is attempting to lead a revolution against the Prince, who has chosen to profit from the disease by making the cost of the masks extremely expensive instead of offering them to everyone and making it legal to kill those infected in sight. He wants Araby's help, thinking that she can get him important documents from her Father that will help him lead his uprising against the Prince. He is arrogant and practical, but he also seems to be developing a soft spot for Araby.
It would not be fair to categorize this as a "love triangle" since it is so different than those that I have read. There are moments when I was convinced that one was right for her, and then something would happen and the other would be my favorite. There are secrets revealed about both guys, some good and some bad. I really had to hunt to make sure this book would have a sequel and -THANK HEAVEN! - it will! The ending certainly left me wanting more!
This one is recommended for lovers of steampunk, unique young adult stories, Poe fans, love triangles, and plot twists.