Thursday, August 1, 2013

Such a Foul Smell: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Just the facts:

Overall: 3 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it every waking moment.

Believe-ability: It was believable.


            In a purposefully undeclared past (or future?), a terrible plague has spread like wildfire and threatens the entire population. The daughter of the scientist who has created a mask that keeps the wearer safe from the plague, Araby Worth lives a life of luxury, known only to the wealthy elite. Since all daily life is pretty much at a stand still, Araby spends her time going to the Debauchery Club with her friend April, where April hooks up with whomever is available and Araby gets high on whatever drugs she can find.

            Enter the family man/bouncer at the Club, Will. Araby is drawn to the normalcy of his life, the way he takes care of his brother and sister, and his softer side. Ah, but what’s a YA story without a love triangle? So of course Araby also catches the eye of April’s brother, Elliot. Elliot is pretty much the opposite of Will. He’s the extremely wealthy nephew of Prince Prospero, is hell bent on rebelling against his uncle, and will resort to less than tasteful means to accomplish his goals.

 What will happen to Araby and her friends when the already dreadful plague develops into something worse? And who will save the people from Prince Prospero’s neglectful eye?

Although I liked the overall uniqueness to this story, I felt that it fell flat in many areas. My first and biggest disappointment came with this book being labeled as steampunk. I am certainly no expert when it comes to steampunk, but when you have an entire science fiction sub-genre to work with, I would think that you could come up with more than steam carriages and a fancy disease proof mask. I’m just saying, you have all of human history and then some to create some awesome steampunk machinery and the biggest thing you’ve got is a steam carriage?! Child’s play.

I also didn’t like the fact that Araby resorted to drug use to dull her feelings about life. Although I understood the reasons behind it, I didn’t feel like it actually fit Araby’s character. I think it could have been more believable if she actually displayed some attributes of an addict. She supposedly gets so high that she passes out on a regular basis, but when she goes for a stretch without drugs she doesn’t display any longing for it. She doesn’t have physical side effects, which she would if she was cut off from her supply, and she doesn’t have emotional effects from withdrawal either. Here is a girl who doesn’t care what she shoots up with as long as she doesn’t have to feel, but she can go without her fix no problem? I don’t buy it.

Lastly, by the end of the book, everyone Araby knows turns out to be full of deception. (And I mean everyone.) Why does Araby trust any of her friends, acquaintances, or family if she believes that they have all lied to her and used her? I dislike the idea of everyone being so deceitful and I dislike that Araby still chooses to be around them if they are indeed as they seem. Obviously, these are questions that will be answered in the second book, but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth as I finish the first.