Sunday, September 16, 2012

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin - OPTIONAL

Griffin, Bethany Masque of the Red Death, 319 pgs. Greenwillow Books, 2012. $17.99. Language: PG; Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG

A plague has ravaged the city where Araby lives, killing her brother and leaving her in a state of emotional numbness created by drugs and denial. Her father is a great scientist who has created a mask that if worn can protect the wearer from catching the deadly disease that has decimated an entire community. The people are ruled by a ruthless prince who withholds masks from the poor and encourages the rich to live debauched lives since sin isn't really that sinful if they could all die tomorrow. As Araby drifts from moment to moment hazy from chemicals and grief she suddenly finds herself pulled into a resistance movement led by her best friend's brother who is also the nephew to the Prince. Will she help and possibly destroy herself and her family in the process or will this give her the chance to redeem herself and finally allow her brother to rest in peace.

This book seems like it could have been an interesting twist on Edgar Allen Poe's short story by the same name. The plot moves along briskly, but unfortunately feels like a vehicle simply in place to set up the next in a series. Nearly the entire novel is complete before any significant action or progress is realized. Araby, as the main character, deserves more depth instead of being presented as simply there for others to react to. Hopefully, if there is another book to follow, the characters will become more complex and the book will have a completeness that this first effort is lacking.

MS/HS--OPTIONAL.AEB Social Studies Teacher

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