- Publisher: Greenwillow Books Jun-11-2013 (2013)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0108DPIYQ
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
[(Dance of the Red Death )] [Author: Bethany Griffin] [Jun-2013] Hardcover – 2013
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[ DANCE OF THE RED DEATH By Griffin, Bethany ( Author ) Hardcover Jun-11-2013
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I was disappointed with the sequel to the Masque of the Red Death; I almost rated this three stars as it wasn't too bad throughout (until I really got into writing this review), but the ending itself deserved a star knocked off. I couldn't help but get the feeling that this was part of the first book originally and it should've been a standalone, as this lacked the usual feeling of the second part of a series; I feel like it would've left a better feeling had it just been one novel instead, but with the ending shaped better.
The novel left me confused at the beginning. Even though I had read the first part of the series just over six months ago, I was left without much of a memory of the plot and characters (perhaps that's my problem, but I don't usually have problems with migrating information from novel to novel even if years pass) and the novel did nothing to help with that. Normally a few things are rehashed in the beginning to remind people of what's going on, but the hints were so small and things that were mentioned were already important enough to remember that I was left wondering whether I should reread the first one again - and so close to the original read through. I really felt like I was at a loss, because I was excited and then I couldn't even remember which man I was rooting for, and some characters (like Kent and Thom) just left me grasping at vague - if any - hints about who they were in the last novel. This is why I said that the entire series felt like it was one novel, because it wasn't unified properly and the structure itself didn't solve enough in both novels to make it make sense; to me, it would have been much better just left as a standalone and more rounded out.
The characters' interactions were poor, they didn't really have lives outside of Araby's connections to them, and they felt to one-sided with their anger and sorrow just taking over without any brain behind it. Araby was the worst character to put up with in general, and I found it harder and harder to like Will and Elliot even though they were great - and solidly built - in the first book. But Will and Elliot's interactions alone were terrible, as they agreed but disagreed (I'll help only to be around Araby and protect you from him), they worked together then grumbled (or vice versa, like Will printing those election pamphlets to keep him away from tyranny even though people will still vote for him), they fought heads really only because of the main love interest, and it was them just competing on camera for Araby no matter what they were doing - even trying to win the revolution.
The plot itself was not complex enough, either. It deserved more attention to it, but in the end it felt like it was really about Araby's love interests and her hating and trying to justify her father and his actions. The characters ran here and there efficiently, following the outline nicely, but there was nothing deeper; there were barely any subplots, things that got in the way were dealt with too quickly, and everything was rushed through. The story wasn't really about the plague, the citizens, or the world in the end, it was about Araby and what she wanted - and not in the usual main character way.
There was nothing really noble about her actions and it felt like it was driven too much on selfish desire - something that I had hoped she would have grown out of in this second part. But her monologues were even more annoying than usual, decisions were made really thoughtlessly, not enough time was spent on major plot points (which made me believe some parts should've been left out entirely, like the maids trying to selflessly - and mindlessly - help her out of Prospero's castle or Prospero having her publicly hanged), and I got nothing out of it in the end. I can't even say I'm satisfied with her man choice, as she came to it too quickly, forgave thoughtlessly, and there was just no build up to it. Even as YA, this falls flat.
Araby became overcome with passion far too often to make her useful or noble, too (and she spent far too many passionate moments with Elliot to have ended up with Will for it to make sense, more so when she was overcome with lust at the end when her mother found them which made her seem even more shallow to me), and try as she might to care for Will's siblings, April, and maybe the citizens, sometimes she was far too overcome with guilt (and rage), too stupid to make proper decisions, and too focused on pretty things to even be necessary in her own story. The pretty things were definitely described well, though, so at least the upper class living in luxury was shown nicely, but it just felt like a mindless woman trying too hard to save the day and yet still relying on all the men around her to do things before she's pushed to make more stupid decisions. She had at least gotten past her brother's death in this book, at least not to be suicidal and a downer like before, but her oh-woe-is-me attitude about everything in her life, and also everyone around her, just killed the enjoyment the previous book brought me.
The ending was terrible, too. Prospero's death, and cowardly end, was too quickly solved - and having Araby be the one to kill him, instead of Elliot, just felt like it was the main character taking the limelight away from the rightful killer (from how the character was shown to me, I don't think Elliot really would've balked at the task). Her father's capture, as well as Malcontent's end (and nothing about the father-son relationship being explained there), and the city's ability to get back on its feet, was just wrapped up too neatly and in a disappointing way. Everything was too quickly solved, really, and the flow towards the end was terrible. They were still in Prospero's castle when I saw how little there was left to read, and it was too convenient that everything fell into place so nicely in less than forty pages (like what to do about "the scientist", how to deal with Prospero and Malcontent, how to cure the water supply, what's going to happen with April, who is Araby going to love, and so on). It also ended too quickly to leave a satisfied conclusion for me, In fact, the last lines - the entire scene, really - just felt too abrupt as though the max word count were hit and there was nothing to do about it. I don't want the city to be a utopia when I'm done reading, but I expect to be satisfied about the end and what's going to be done, like how the characters end up (what Araby and Elliot's relationship is, for example), who's in real control of the city, what's going to happen with the scientist and the reverend, etc. It was a necessary "cliffhanger" style ending that didn't end the novel in a literary or satisfying fashion at all, and as I said in the beginning that alone knocked of a star for the rating. Solve things, don't leave them hanging - the world should still exist when I close the books, but not like that - not without fixing what caused the novel to come about in the first place.
I didn't want to be disappointed with this novel as I really enjoyed the first one and wanted to enjoy this one too, but the more I spent writing this review the more I remembered my disappointment with it and I feel like it deserved the rating it got. Perhaps the next time I try this series I'll read both books in one go, but I don't think that'll fix anything for me - it wasn't my memory that ruined the read for me, it was the lack of unification that novels usually get so right even when everything else, like characters and some plot aspects, aren't as tight.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Disappointment is a bitter, bitter feeling. It's kind of like a sinking ship, where your hopes are all buoyant and untouched, and it slowly but surely begins to slip under the surface of the sea. I remember reading Bethany Griffin's "Masque of the Red Death" a while back, and, while I didn't love it, it was still a decent enough read. So when I found out that its sequel "Dance of the Red Death" was finally being released last week, I eagerly picked up a copy...and ended up feeling like maybe a plague couldn't be that bad after all.
The life of comfort and wealth that seventeen-year-old Araby Worth has disappeared, replaced by a world of betrayal, death and disease. Now onboard a flying ship, Araby, along with the headstrong Elliot, her best friend April, and Will--the boy she loved but was betrayed by--seek to take revenge on Prospero, the cruel and twisted king who allowed the Red Death to spread amongst his people. Araby is determined to save the people she love, even if it means fighting until the very end and partaking in a dance of games in which no one can be trusted.
"How could this be so dang boring?" was pretty much the only thought that crossed through my mind while I was reading "Dance of the Red Death". I think I ended up skimming the first twenty chapters, which sums up to about a good four-fifths of the entire book. What the heck happened? I remember finding the dark and grotesque atmosphere in "Masque of the Red Death" almost captivating, but none of that was really present in the sequel. Literally nothing happens in those twenty chapters. All I remember is some ship-sailing and occasional gun-shooting. The bulk of the book probably serves as some space-filler between the first book and the last four chapters, which was pretty much where the whole point of the book was. Those last few chapters were definitely exciting and twisted, and I feel like if Ms. Griffin had written the entire book based on those last few chapters, it would be way more exciting than it is now. This was just quite a snoozer.
One of the other reasons I probably found "Dance of the Red Death" disappointing was the heroine. Araby is about as interesting as a piece of chalk. Sure, she's definitely a little more...alive in the sequel and has a little more backbone, but she's still such a passive, dull character. I couldn't really get into her mind and empathize with her, despite the fact that I could follow along with her thoughts and emotions, since, you know, you're forced to read about them in the first three-quarters of the entire novel. She's way too caught up in the same emotions of guilt and betrayal that she never really develops smoothly and realistically. And don't get me started on her little love triangle. She's kissing Elliot and Will like there's no tomorrow, without any sort of reflection in it. The fact that made it even worse was the fact that she knew she didn't even like Elliot, since he's twisted and just not the guy for her. My goodness.
I think the saving grace of the novel was, as mentioned before, the last set of chapters, where Araby finally enters the palace and is forced to play Prospero's twisted game. There, the tantalizing darkness we saw in the first book really came to life, with corpses swinging from the ceiling and partygoers glazed in the oblivion of drugs and lust. That was when I really began to pay attention to what was happening and stopped skimming over everything. The tensions were undoubtedly high, and you really became invested in what was happening. It's just too bad that it only happened in the last four chapters of the entire novel.
Overall, "Dance of the Red Death" really fell flat, with a dull heroine and an even duller storyline. Skimming over a chapter is bad enough; skimming over the first twenty chapters is just a definite no-no. Just thank goodness this series ends here--I probably wouldn't pick up the next book if there was one.
This second and final book in the series will keep readers on edge as they follow along with Araby in her pursuit to find her father, save her friend, save her city and defeat the two rivals who wish to see its destruction. It is a haunting story filled with heartbreak and loss, a heroine who is faced with difficult decisions and an ending that is bittersweet.
With the Red Death taking lives faster than the Weeping Sickness ever did, with two madmen on a collision course that will leave the city and its citizens in ruins and with two boys who hold a piece of her heart awaiting her decision, Araby Worth's time is running out.
But unless she can find her father, discover a cure for this deadliest of diseases, emerge victorious from Prospero's latest game and stop Malcontent from achieving his goal of total annihilation, there will be no reason for her to choose between a future with Elliott or one with Will. Because there will be no future. Not for her. Not for her friends. Not for anyone.
Beautiful even at its most horrifying, DANCE OF THE RED DEATH weaves its magic and draws readers into its darkly alluring world full of twists and turns, shocks and surprises, with its flawed, damaged, despairing but not defeated, maniacal, malevolent, determined and hopeful characters. All of whom are incredibly fascinating. All of whom serve to make this story one that is memorable.
Author Bethany Griffin gives readers another unique look at a story that has Poe's as its inspiration. She builds the suspense in this sequel, making this a nail-biter, and gives her once directionless protagonist a purpose, turning her into a heroine that is strong, determined and one worth rooting for.
DANCE OF THE RED DEATH is an immensely entertaining finish to this two-book series. With its battle of good versus evil times two, its triangle-shaped love story, its chilling setting, its intriguing characters and the surprises it delivers along the way, it is a story not to be missed.
Note: This review is based on an advance readers copy I received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However both an electronic and print copy of the book were purchased for my collection.