THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin is a fast-paced book that really will keep you on the edge...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin is a fast-paced book that really will keep you on the edge of your seat. The action is continuous and keeps you forever wondering what will happen next, and who will be next to catch the disease…
A violent plague has swept the city in which our protagonist, Araby Worth, lives, wiping out much of the population and causing the people to live in fear of contracting it. Everyone who can afford one wears a special porcelain mask, which keeps out the germs that cause the disease, whilst the poor are left to suffer in the lower streets.
The city is ruled by Prince Prospero, who believes that only the privileged deserve to survive the plague, and so limits the production of masks to those who can afford them. Araby is fortunate enough to live in the wealthy side of the city, as her father was the scientist who invented the masks, which has earned him a certain degree of leniency from Prospero, who keeps all other scientists safe in his palace.
Araby’s parents are distant, allowing her to come and go as she pleases with April, the daughter of the previous ruler. They frequent the Debauchery Club, a place where you can escape the fear of disease and seek oblivion for a few hours or more. It is here that we meet Araby’s two love interests (I know this love triangle sounds typical of a YA novel, but stay with me!), one of which helps her on her way to oblivion with an injection of drugs, allowing her to forget for a few precious hours.
This is Elliott, April’s ruthless brother who is out to cause an uprising in the city and overthrow his uncle Prospero. He wants to provide the poor with masks, asking Araby to betray her father’s trust and steal the blueprints for mask creation. Straight from the beginning he tells her never to trust him, but she starts to believe in him as a leader, and when forced to masquerade as his fiancé, will she start liking him for real?
Our other love interest from the Debauchery Club is Will, a doorman of sorts who tests the club’s entrants for the disease before allowing them to pass through. Araby has always been intrigued by him, and when she wakes up in his home after passing out at the club she becomes just as fascinated by his home life. She is drawn to him, and sees his home as a refuge from her own dramas, putting her trust in him.
Araby is a troubled individual, which is portrayed beautifully in the book, as she suffers daily for the events of her past. Her whole family is still in pain over the death of her twin brother, Finn, who died because of the disease. Araby blames herself, as she put her father’s first mask on before Finn, and each mask can only be worn by one person. She is racked with guilt, seeking oblivion at the Debauchery Club, but has also made a vow to herself that she will never do anything new that Finn will never experience. This counts relationships of any kind, giving her further turmoil over her relationships with Will and Elliott.
Overall I loved this book, as Bethany Griffin has built up an amazingly detailed world, with an incredible level of character development. There is genuine fear in each character, with Araby never being sure who to trust and trying to overcome her self-destructive nature and guilt. The book likes to shock you, as there are some things I just couldn’t have predicted, which keeps you turning the pages until you’ve devoured the whole book. I am really looking forward to seeing where the series goes in book two, but 2013 is so far away!
I loved THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, mainly because of Bethany Griffin’s great writing style and wonderful plotline. The plot is terrifying and the threat of the disease feels real as you read the book, as the characters’ panic is so well portrayed. There are twists and turns, and like Araby we never know who to trust and when we can breathe easy.(less)
After reading Blood Red Road, I couldn’t wait to pick up REBEL HEART. Like Blood Re...moreReviewed by Becs for www.BookChickCity.com - 3.5 Stars on the blog.
After reading Blood Red Road, I couldn’t wait to pick up REBEL HEART. Like Blood Red Road it is narrated in Saba dialect, it took me a while to get used to this style of writing but after a few pages you become accustomed and immerse into the Dust Lands world.
After Blood Red Road, Jack and Saba part ways with a promise to meet again. Saba, Lugh, Emmi and Tommo travel west towards the stories of freedom, big waters and lush landscape, as Jack travels to tell Molly the news about Ike’s death.
Saba is haunted by her past and the deaths that she feels responsible for, Epona’s death especially. Saba is slowly going crazy with dreams, memories and ghosts following her around, then Tracker, a tame wild dog who belonged to Mercy, comes to Saba’s rescue and leads Saba, Lugh, Emmi and Tommo to a camp at the side of Snake River.
At Snake River the Sky Speaker, Auriel is a shaman and walks Saba through her dreams so that she can put the memories and ghosts to rest and find her true path, just as Saba’s dream comes to an end and Auriel is about to bring her to the closure Saba requires, Lugh bursts in with some news.
This news changes Saba’s course and she goes in search of Jack. As she wants to travel alone she sneaks off only to run into some headhunters. Killing one, Saba quickly gets on her way before the rest of the tribe find her, crossing a rope bridge and hearing the chase, Saba makes a hasty decision that could cost her family their lives.
Safely across, her family and friends rejoin. They need transport so decide to hijack a passing cart. The driver of the cart, Slim, is made to take them to the tavern Molly owns but he was on his way there anyway. On their journey the group see what the Tonton are up to and get to know Slim, they begin to realise there is more to Slim than he is letting on.
The Tonton have changed tactics and have become more orderly. Now at the head is DeMalo who is trying to produce a new society called New Eden, where the young and the strong are given the land to work and told to produce babies. The old, weak and feeble are pushed out or killed off. DeMalo tries to convince Saba of his vision.
Who are the best stewards of the earth? He says. The old and weak? The sick? Or the young and the strong? Whose children will best serve the earth? Those born to the scum of Hopetown? Weak children born to the weak? Or the children of these people?
I dunno, I says. I ain’t never thought about it before.
Resources are precious, he says rare. There isn’t enough clean water or good land to go around.
The Tonton have left a trail of destruction which causes Saba and her group to keep changing their plans. With the problems they face, the journey becomes a tale of self-discovery for all who are in the group, each making decisions that could have a detrimental effect on another and Saba finally realising that her chase of Jack could be the biggest mistake she has ever made.
Nobody’s like I thought they was. Nuthin’s like I figgered it. Nuthin’s like I thought it would be.
There are many twists in REBEL HEART that are just a total surprise and overall I really enjoyed it. It’s not as good as Blood Red Road but it is still a very good read. A story about self-discovery and understanding your full potential.
I’m afeared, Jack, I says. Everthin I thought I knew, pretty much all of it turns out to be wrong. Some of the things I seen of late…that I felt, I…I ain’t the same as I was. I dunno who I am no more.
We don’t choose the times we’re born in, he says. That’s the business of the stars. The only choice we got is what we do while we’re here. To make it mean somethin.
If you are a fan of Blood Red Road then REBEL HEART is a good addition to the series although it has less action than Blood Red Road, and doesn’t quite reach the same high standard. However, REBEL HEART is full of unpredictable twists, heartbreak, deceit and betrayal. Saba is unsure of her path and herself, which makes REBEL HEART ultimately a book about self-discovery and realising one’s potential. Despite the book being written in the unusual dialect, I still enjoyed it and with a few romances along the way and a great ending, yet again Moira Young has left me wanting more.
THE LAST MAN STANDING is a dystopian novel set in Italy, where society has collapse...moreReviewed by Becs for www.BookChickCity.com - 2.5 Stars on the blog.
THE LAST MAN STANDING is a dystopian novel set in Italy, where society has collapsed, the borders are closed and the future uncertain. We never find out what has caused such chaos as we follow the life of Leonardo but we do find out how he survives in this unruly world and how he overcomes the challenges that he has to face. THE LAST MAN STANDING is quite a serious and realistic read and shows how the love a parent has for their child can provide the determination and strength to survive anything.
Leonardo is a lonely fifty three year old ex-English professor and novelist, and he loves nothing more than reading, and had a room created that most book lovers would dream of.
Then he had filled the space, about ten meters by four, with bookshelves he had had made to measure and fixed to the walls by a carpenter. Apart from thousands of books there was nothing but an armchair and a standard lamp on a carpet in the middle of the room.
Leonardo is a very caring, selfless man, although he lacks a backbone as on more than one occasion at the beginning of the book he allows people to walk all over him, however, he demonstrates quiet strength and a caring nature as he rescues a pup and nurses it back to health.
Leonardo has a daughter Lucia, however after a divorce, he was left alone and had no contact with his family for a long time. Leonardo loves Lucia very much and writes to her all the time, these letter are always returned unopened as his wife and child want nothing to do with him. Imagine Leonardo’s surprise when his ex-wife, Alessandra, turns up on his doorstep with Lucia, and Alberto, Alessandra’s step-son needing Leonardo to look after them so she can go and try to find Alberto’s father, her new husband.
Decision making is painstakingly slow as Leonardo, entrusted with the care of these children, attempts to take them to the safety of Switzerland as they have all the necessary paperwork to ensure safe passage, only to be thwarted at every turn and finding so much unnecessary death along the way.
Their lives have not slipped away, but been snatched from them. Not like a child’s milk tooth, that after dangling for days drops out to make room for its successor, but like healthy teeth needlessly ripped out with cold forceps and no anaesthetic. I can’t get used to seeing these bodies and I am always disturbed by them.
Unable to get to the boarders and hearing of stories of anybody approaching boarders being shot at despite having the correct paperwork, Leonardo decides to make their way to the coast in the hope of finding another way across.
During their journey to the coast, Leonardo is found by two youths that take him and his family by surprise, these youths kidnap Alberto and Lucia. Leonardo wants to protect and rescue his daughter and by doing so is taken captive by the gang of lawless youths and their leader, Richard. There are quite a few disturbing scenes of murder, torture and rape during their time with this gang as the boys take what they want, when they want it. Leonardo description of this gang could describe some of today’s culture.
Their vocabulary was basic, approximate and stuffed with expletives.
There was no distinction for them between wanting to do something and actually doing it; the inconvenient processes of thought had dissolved to make way for untrammelled need.
Leonardo was put in a cage with a circus elephant, I must admit I did wonder how and why an elephant appeared on the front cover, called is David. He is very gentle and becomes Leonardo’s saviour in keeping him company and allowing him to share his warmth along with another animal, a donkey named Circe. Leonardo bides his time as he prepares and watches for a chance to take on Richard and earn his freedom for himself, his animals and those who want to leave the camp with him.
THE LAST MAN STANDING takes Leonardo on a journey through the chaotic, lawless world where he comes face to face with murderer, rapists, thieves and gangs, and it’s amazing to see the change Leonardo’s personality goes through to enable him to survive in this harsh climate. I did find it moving when we see Leonardo find unknown strength to enable him, and especially his daughter, a chance of survival.
THE LAST MAN STANDING was slow and methodical but quite moving. Leonardo is a selfless protagonist that goes through a massive change to save his daughter and to ensure her safety in this new cruel, lawless world. I enjoy dystopian novels, which are usually futuristic, THE LAST MAN STANDING however, is set in our current world, albeit a broken down version and is quite realistic. My main reason for not fully enjoying this book is because it is a little too grown-up and serious for me. It lacked excitement and quite often reminded me of a news reporter with a lifeless tone. There were also no chapters, unless you call the six sections in a 352 page book chapters, and I’m one for reading to the end of a chapter for a place to stop, I hate putting a book down mid-chapter! (less)
"Struck" by Jennifer Bosworth is an interesting premise for a YA novel, set in dystop...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com - 3/10 on the blog.
"Struck" by Jennifer Bosworth is an interesting premise for a YA novel, set in dystopian LA with our heroine torn between the ideals of two different cults vying for her power. She is torn between protecting her family and protecting herself, trying to work out the motives of those that want her.
Mia Price is a survivor of numerous lightning strikes, her body conducting and attracting lightning whenever there is a storm. It affects her in different ways each time it hits, but always leaves her with more red scars on her body, jagged like lightning bolts. She craves lightning, claiming to be addicted to the power, setting her up as special, being able to store the power but unable to control it.
“I want the lightning to find me. I crave it like lungs crave oxygen. There’s nothing that makes you feel more alive than being struck. Unless, of course, it kills you. It does that to me from time to time, which is why I moved to Los Angeles.”
The novel is set in dystopian LA, after a huge earthquake has ripped the city to pieces, tearing lives apart, with Mia’s being no exception. Her mother has a post traumatic stress disorder, forcing Mia to hold their family together, keeping a watchful eye out for younger brother, Parker. She is dedicated to her family, wanting to keep them safe at all costs, which is an admirable trait, but emphasised too much in the novel, like an obsession.
It is Mia and Parker’s first day back at school after the earthquake, where one of Mia’s old teachers asks her to join ‘The Seekers’, a cult group who want to save the world from the prophesised apocalypse that will occur in three days time. Their leader can read minds and plant suggestions, making him a dangerous force to be reckoned with, especially when Mia is never certain of his motives for wanting her power.
On the other side we have the Prophet, a religious cult leader who wants people to become his ‘Followers’, taking advantage of those lives that have been devastated by the earthquake. He claims to be able to heal people, with his 12 Apostles going with him everywhere, the twelve adopted children that he has taken under his wing. His televised sermons aid him in converting people to his cause, with Mia’s mother being fixated on him. Prophet was the one who predicted the past LA earthquake, his validity earning him followers, with his apocalypse theory taken as gospel by many.
Mia is at the heart of the apocalypse, having been seen in a vision by mysterious fellow student, Jeremy, who can see the future. She is instantly drawn to him, heat sparking between them when they are close, but one touch from him will cause Mia to share his visions. However, as mysterious as he appears to be, I could predict every revelation about him, as Bosworth drops hints that aren’t at all subtle.
Overall, I had a lot of issues with this book, because as soon as I started reading it I could tell that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I didn’t enjoy Bosworth’s writing style, and wasn’t at all interested in the heroine. There was hardly any character development, with little information from her past being revealed, and we never really learn anything about her brother apart from his appearance. Her relationship with Jeremy seems too spontaneous, as they get together without much being shared between them, seeming overly forced by the author. The ending of "Struck" was weak, and is way too convenient for my liking. It is also a little rushed, with the whole plot being resolved in only around ten pages. I didn’t enjoy this book, but fans of dystopian fiction may disagree.
This book didn’t grab me at all, with there being little depth or development to the main character and a weak plot resolution. The majority of the plot twists could be predicted easily, not making for an enjoyable read at all. (less)
The moment this book landed in my hands I was intrigued. The plot sounded fantastic, but after a quick flick th...moreReviewed by Andrea for Book Chick City.
The moment this book landed in my hands I was intrigued. The plot sounded fantastic, but after a quick flick through I was afraid to read it. Not one speech mark graces the pages of this book, and it’s written exactly how Saba, the narrator speaks. A dialect not dissimilar to our own; without the rules and regulations of ‘proper‘ English.
There was no need to be afraid. After two pages I was hooked. It’s easy to imagine our society breaking down, for whatever reason, and our language slowly disintegrating to something more guttural as the world reverts back to simpler times. The language really compliments the whole world and feel of “Blood Red Road”, and now I could not imagine it any other way.
Moira Young uses just the right amount of dialect to give Saba the perfect voice and to set the scene of a vague dystopian future. She doesn’t go overboard, and the writing just flows as the world builds up and the characters come to life.
As you can probably tell; I loved this book. The world is rich, and well thought out. Saba is flawed, and not always a nice person. She loves her twin brother, but hates her little sister. It’s a relationship that grows as they’re thrown together in their quest to save Lugh, but it’s not a relationship that becomes perfect overnight, making them both seem very human.
On her journey to rescue Lugh, Saba is kidnapped and put to work as a cage fighter. She meets Jack, another cage fighter, and is instantly drawn to him, though she doesn’t know why. Until he opens his mouth and she realises how arrogant he is. When she’s finally able to escape she can’t leave without him even if she doesn’t know why. Her own feelings frustrate her almost as much as Jack’s comments do.
Jack is cocky, good looking, and he rubs Saba up the wrong way. She can’t understand her feelings for him, she likes and loathes him all at once, and it makes her mad. Their fledgling relationship adds the perfect amount of romance without being clichéd.
This isn’t a young adult romance novel, though it has romance. It’s an adventure story, a story of friendship, love and loss, it’s exciting, and the characters are easy to relate to and come to love, even if they aren’t perfect--probably because they aren’t perfect.(less)