Tag Archives: dystopian

Masque of Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #1)

Masque of Red Death

by Bethany Griffin

Book 1

YA, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Steampunk

Hardcover

ISBN 9780062107794

love love love Edgar Allan Poe’s works.  They’re creepy, and twisted and so weird.  Annabel Lee is one of my favorite poems.(I went to put in one line, but couldn’t pick just one, so you get the last two stanzas, enjoy)

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we—

Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

 

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,

In her sepulchre there by the sea—

In her tomb by the sounding sea.

So beautiful, so tragic, so creepy!

So when I saw this book and heard it was inspired by EAP’s short story Masque of Red Death, I was all over it.  The book is set in an indeterminate time and place.  While at times it seems that the story is as if the plague in the 1300s spread farther and affected the whole world, they have some modern-ish technology like electricity and tall buildings.  However, they never mention cars or planes having ever existed.  So let’s just say the time and setting is completely fictional.  Like I said before, the premise of this book is that a horrible and deadly plague has “decimated the population” and left everyone else afraid to even be near other humans.  The rich can afford to wear specially designed masks that allow them to breathe the infected air without becoming sick, and to pay the poor to go out into the world for them.  The poor live in squalor, many not able to afford masks for their children.  The disease is highly contagious and corpse collectors are a common sight on the streets.  They live in a society ruled by Prince Prospero, who is rumored to be a little crazy.

Araby, our narrator, is one of the rich, her father in fact designed the masks that saved many lives.  She lives a protected life in the Akkadian towers with her parents and the memory of her dead brother.  To escape the terror of everyday life, Araby and her friend April go to the Debauchery Club, for drinking, drugs, and everything else that name suggests.

Ok, so I loved this story, but the writing isn’t all that great.  I didn’t think it was possible for me to be so interested in a story line that was so poorly written.  The narration jumped around a lot.  It almost felt like stream of consciousnesses, but not really. I didn’t understand some of Araby’s feelings and motives, they just weren’t explained.  I mean, I understand why she feels responsible for her brother’s death, but what makes her feel her parents wished it was her instead of him?  And please someone explain to me why she would ever trust Elliot!  Seriously, the guy’s an ass-hat and more than a little psycho.  I almost understand her trying to help him because they kind of want the same things, but I have no idea why she would begin to care for him.  I guess we needed the requisite love triangle.

So why did I like this story?  The society they live in is dangerous, they can’t trust anyone, there is a disease they can catch at any moment, there is a man out there trying to create a mutiny.  And then there is Will.  Definitely team Will from the beginning.  I don’t even know why there is any question, okay well there is one thing…

And for the Edgar Allan Poe tie in,this book creates the backdrop for what’s going on in the kingdom while Prince Prospero is having his lavish party.  I am interested in how the next book(s) fit in all this.

And I have to say how much I loved the way this book was put together.  The edges are slightly frayed, it looks a bit worn and old.  And there is this smoke image going through the chapters.

And read this first line…

IMG_2162

Isn’t that a great first line?

The second book The Dance of Red Death comes out in April and I am looking forward to it.

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The Selection

The Selection by Kiera Cassselection

ISBN13: 9780062059932

Hardcover from library

Genre: Dystopian Society, Fantasy, Young Adult

I was interested in this book right away because it seemed like The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games, which is weird because I don’t ever watch The Bachelor.  35 girls from the different sections of Illèa (what used to be the USA) are chosen and go to the palace and compete for Prince Maxon’s heart and to be Princess.

Before I read the book, I was under the assumption that the girls were forced to compete, this is not the case.  The contest is completely optional and they may leave at any time.  Also, the summary makes it seem like there is a ton of action in this book, which there is not.  It’s actually very uneventful.  And I don’t even think it has a climax. Well, if it did, I missed it.  Maybe with all the dystopian books I have been reading, I have come to expect much more fighting and action.  This story is not like that.  It’s more of a love story.  America Singer, our narrator, was in love with Aspen, a boy from her hometown who is in a caste below her.  Oh yeah, they have castes in this society, 1-8.  America is a five, the artist caste.  She is a singer and musician.  Aspen is a six, basically a servant.  He pushes her to enter her name in the drawing so as not to hold her back.  He then breaks up with her because he feels that he can never give her the life she deserves.  She is devestated, and when her name is called she is looking forward to being as far from Aspen as possible.   She doesn’t think she can love the Prince.

I actually liked this book, but I can’t exactly tell you why.  I mean, it’s not a secret, I don’t really know why I liked it.  Like I said before, it was uneventful.  I think it was because a friend of mine told me it wasn’t very good.  So even though I was looking forward to reading it, I was expecting it to be a bad book.  So it’s not great, but not bad.  I liked America Singer–hated the name though. She goes into the contest wanting to be herself.  She is kind, witty, and tough.  She also doesn’t think she’s anything exceptional, so she’s humble.  I would recommend this book, but I would tell people that if they’re expecting The Hunger Games or something action packed, this is not the book for you.  But if you liked Before I Fall or Pride and Prejudice this may be something you like.  DISCLAIMER:  I am not saying this book is as good as a classic like Pride and Prejudice, it’s not.  But it is a romantic love story more than an action book so it falls into the same genre.

The second book, The Elite, is coming out April 23 of 2013 (it’s on my “Can’t wait for books of 2013“)

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Unwholly

Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Book #2 in the Unwind trilogy

ISBN 9781442423688

Kindle Edition

Genre:  Post Apocalyptic Dystopian Society, Young Adult, Science Fiction

If you have not read UnWind you should not read this review, it contains spoilers for the first book.  I will warn before I include spoilers for Unwholly.

UnWholly takes place fairly soon after the ending of Unwind.   Conner is now in charge of the Graveyard.  Risa is paralyzed from the waist down after the Happy Jack explosion and in charge of medical help at the Graveyard.  Levi is trying to lead a normal life after being labeled “The clapper who did not clap.”  We also meet Starky, a storked baby who is grew up knowing his “adoptive” parents saw him more of an obligation than a blessing.    He was scheduled to be unwound but escaped while in transport, much like Conner.  However, unlike Conner, Starky is violent, controlling, manipulative, and dangerous. There is also Miracolina, a tithed child much like Levi, Nelson, the Juvy cop humiliated by Conner during his escape who is out for revenge, and Cam, a new kind of being, made completely of unwound parts.

Shusterman explains in this book how the world we know became the world where post birth abortions became acceptable.  He takes the collapse of the education system in our county and shows the disasterous consequences.  Young adults with no skills, who cannot find jobs, become homeless.  They are angy at the government that failed them and becoming violent and demanding.  A war followed and the worst compromise, unwinding, was the anwer.  I would like to think that our society, that people would never make this choice, but this article and this one show that some would. (Yes I do realize that both articles discuss the same people, but they were from two different times this year so it’s still out there)

*******************SPOILER ************

Shusterman creates such believable characters that I grew to love and hate.  There are few fictional charaters who I hate more than Starky.  Serioulsy, hate the guy.  I read another reviewer says she wanted to rip his throat out with her teeth and I thought, “Yep, pretty much”.  While he does many unforgivable things in the book, what he does to sabotage the Graveyard’s survival is way past awful.  I hate him for leaving all those poor kids to die while saving his own group.  I hope in the next book someone kills him, badly.

These books are so hard to read because the world these kids live in is so depressing, I love how Shusterman creates characters with such a capacity for love and a desire to help each other.  I was not expecting to admire Cam as much as I do, and root for him to find love and acceptance.

I love this series so far.  Shusterman has created such amazing people who have such a power for love in this horrific society.  I cannot wait to read Unsouled, which at this time does not seem to have a release date.  We’re all hoping it’s soon.  If you can’t wait, you can check out UnShattered.  It’s one of those 1.5 novels that have become so popular.  The mini-book (don’t know if that’s what others are calling it, but that’s what I am calling it) shows Levi’s experience before he decided to become a clapper.  Not bad.  It does introduce at least one character that comes to play in UnWholly.  Me, I went and checked out Everlost, the first book in Neal Shusterman’s Skinjacker Trilogy.  Hopefully it will be just as good.

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Insurgent by Veronica Roth Book #2 of the Divergent Trilogy

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I love the premise to this series. People are put into different factions based on their interests and skills. While they are told which faction they are best suited for, ultimately they choose their own. If they choose one that they are not suited for and fail initiation, they are exiled from the community and live with the factionless. This is all explained in book 1, Divergent.

This story is very difficult to explain in a few words. There are many characters, it’s a complex world they live in, and things are definitely not what you think they are. Basically, it’s about people trying to take control, the people fighting against them, and those caught in between. If you haven’t read Divergent recently I suggest you going back and re-read it before opening Insurgent. The characters are often referring to situations that happened in the first story. If you haven’t read Divergent, you shouldn’t read Insurgent, or even this review

At the end of Divergent and throughout this book, Tris and Four and their allies have to worry about the simulation, a machine that can control people from a remote location.  The idea of mind control is frightening. Tris is trying to figure out how to fight against people who are innocent–and sometimes her friends–when they are trying to kill her.  She knows they have no control over their actions but she has to protect herself and those around her. She also has to come to terms with killing her friend Will while he was under the simulation. And other characters from have to live with knowing they killed a lot of innocent people while they themselves where under the simulation.

I did not love Insurgent as much as I loved Divergent, but I was still a good book. I found at times I had to re read sections of the book because I felt I missed something.  Then when I went back through, I realized details were left out. I was getting annoyed with Tris and her constant mood swings. I understand she just went through a traumatic experience, but one moment she’s all bad ass and the next she’s huddling in a corner. She’s so distressed she can’t hold a gun, but she can stab a guy in the neck with a knife. Maybe it’s just me, but she was getting a little irritating. I don’t know, maybe that makes her more realistic. I still loved the book. I don’t have to love all the characters all the time. The ending was a cliffhanger, left me frustrated and yelling “ARG” just the way a cliffhanger should. The next book, which Roth is jokingly (I hope) referring to as Detergent, is scheduled to come out August 2013.

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