Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Dance of the Red Death

Author: Bethany Griffin
Release: June 11th 2013
Genre: Historical, Steampunk, Gothic, Dystopia, YA
#2 in the Masque of the Red Death duology


Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death.

In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city.

Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero.

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.


*Contains mild spoilers.

“Honestly, at this point, anything is possible and I believe this sequel has serious potential. Maybe I'm just setting myself up for disappointment with this way of thinking, but... we'll see, I guess.”
— Me, setting myself up for disappointment

I am seriously so angry with this book, so, so damn angry because it could have been damn awesome, I swear. And I really did think it would be, because I massively enjoyed the first half for the most part; I truly did. But after that, things just went downhill and booked a one way ticket straight to hell itself, unfortunately.

The one thing this book did absolutely right, the one bone I'm going to throw Griffin is that Araby finally developed into a real, strong heroine. She got proactive, she didn't need to hide behind anyone and was willing to fight and get her own hands dirty. She didn't shy away from the bloodshed and the gore, she stepped right into it and braved lots of horrors. For that, she has my respect and I really did love the evolution she went through during the course of these two novels.

However, and what probably made this book so much worse than the first one, was that, unlike characters, Griffin cannot develop relationships for the life of her. This already bugged me about the first novel, because I didn't really care all that much for any of the character's relationships, but that was okay because I just didn't care, so it didn't matter if they were bad or good at all. But, in this novel I did start to care, by which I mean I started to care that they were terribly written. A fucking decorative pond is deeper than April and Araby's friendship, there are no real emotions tying Araby and her parents together except that Griffin expects to just sympathize because "PARENTS." Fuck no. April and Kent is just impossible to even grasp if you haven't read the novella and also kind of unnecessary if you ask me, as if you have to pair up any and all characters in a romantic relationship for them to have a complete storyline.

And don't get me started on the love triangle. It makes me want to flip tables like a hyena, honestly. Please, please tell me what there is between Will and Araby that I'm just too blind and stupid to see? Seriously, tell me. I have no clue, man. It's just that Will was the "first guy," and because he can do no fucking wrong apparently even when he handed Araby over to a fucking madman that wanted to kill her, even when he printed thousands of pamphlets proclaiming her own father as a killer so that every living soul wanted to kill him, even when he was constantly creeping around being a weird fucking stalker and shit when she kept her distance. What the fuck, man. Their relationship was fucking nuts, and I seriously lost it when, after a whole novel of Elliott-only development and almost no romantic interactions between Will and Araby whatsoever, she just up and goes "Oh, I love Will" in the middle of some life threatening situation. What the everloving fuck. No. Just no no no no.

The plot and pacing was okay mostly, but during the second half it all just felt so squeezed and squished together, like she ran out of time and space altogether and just wanted to get it all out as fast as possible. I don't know, it ended up being way too convoluted and just uncomfortable, to be honest.

To sum it all up, in my earlier words, an epic disappointment. I had such high hopes for this sequel, but it ended up being such a letdown. A shame, really, but what can you do. In the end, it's a nice enough duology, and if you don't mind absolutely infuriating love triangles that take up a good chunk of the book, this might just be the thing for you. The atmosphere is truly beautiful, and the plot is interesting enough as well. Aside from that, though,  there's not too much I can praise these books on. They were a nice waste of time, I'll give 'em that, and I certainly don't regret reading them, but you know. I'd hoped for more.

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