Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There Are Chords in the Hearts of the Most Reckless Which Cannot be Touched...

Araby's journey has only just begun. Her father created the masks to keep the contagion out, but he also was responsible for releasing the Red Death, Will, the boy who made her feel again, betrayed her, her mother has been kidnapped by the Prince, and her best friend, April, is dying. But, Araby has discovered this life is worth living, as long as there is something to fight for.
On their journey back to the city, Araby, Elliot, and Will begin searching for her father in hopes that he can reverse the contagion for April and the city. Throughout their journey, Elliot begins to put together troops of his own in order to overthrow the Prince and save the city. Though these boys have both left scars on her heart, Araby is drawn to them both in such different ways.
Their journey brings them through tunnels filled with death, streets where contagion, the Red Death, and murders lurk, and finally, to a masquerade ball where Araby must make a decision that could result in a horrible death. Throughout the journey, Araby uses her anger, her bravery, and the love for her family to push forward, but is she ready to unleash something inside herself that could distort the image she's grown used to for so long?
Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin is the sequel to Masque of the Red Death. This novel, much like the first, did not leave readers with hopes of a better story. This was the better story. Picking up where Griffin left off, we are reunited with Araby, our heroine. These two novels show a drastic change in the main character: In Masque..., Araby needs to find a reason to breath, but in Dance..., she is determined to fight the disease and the Prince.
The reader can truly see a character who has hit rock bottom, but her climb to the top is the reason we read on. She has taken herself from a character who was continually drugged at the Debauchery Club in order to forget her past, to a female lead who doesn't need the boys to save her. And who doesn't like that?
Griffin's writing is the other part of the story that is just so delicious. Each word, each sentence, is so carefully constructed, and the writing just adds to the depth of the story. The story doesn't just revolve around the Araby, Elliot, Will love triangle; the story focuses on a time where people are dying from the contagion and the Red Death and no one has the power to stop it, but it will be these three that are forced to work together in order to bring the city back to life. Elliot's goal: to overthrow the Prince so he can pay for his crimes, but this means forming an army of men who would be willing to go against the city's control. Araby's mission: to find her father so he can reverse the contagion for her friend, but also to find her mother and bring her home safe. And Will, he's along to provide assistance to both with his array of skills, but also, he wants to keep Araby safe.

What I enjoyed the most was Araby's development. Although some things were a little too convenient, Araby's strength was not one of them. I could feel her turmoil, her anxiety, and her hesitation with certain tasks. She didn't become a strong heroine overnight, but each chapter brings her closer to finding how strong she truly is. And, because of her past, readers have an easier time relating to her emotions.

There were slow points in the story, there were times when it was a little too confusing, and there were times when certain tasks tied together a little too well. However, you read this story for the characters and for the overall theme, which is survival. I favorited this series on my shelfari because it is something I would return to again. This is one of those great dystopian societies where the decisions people make can be just as ugly as the disease itself.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Death Was Expected. There Were No Exceptions

After a devastating World War 4, life appears to be at a stand still. Women are no longer able to give life, and death is always close by. The Council of Creators has determined that instead of making life, they will create it. They have created a master "race" of Chosen Ones; beautiful, strong, and deadly to all.
Tess and her family are the last of the Naturals, those who were naturally born and not created. When her older sister dies during childbirth, Tess is forced to spend ten years at Templeton, being a unpaid maid for the Chosen Ones to pay for her sister's disobedience. Tess is cold, alone, and unwilling to succumb to any help. She then meets James, a Chosen One who loves music, reading, and has a kindness in his soul that others do not share. Their attraction to each other is immediate, but it doesn't take away the danger and intensity it could lead them too.
As her time at Templeton continues, Tess discovers that rebellion is brewing, but not against the Chosen Ones; against the Council. She encounters situations that make her challenge her once black and white views. Slowly, she finds out that rebellion may be in her blood, and also she may carry something that everyone thought was lost. But, will she be able to help her people if it means giving up this one chance at happiness?

It is no surprise that dystopian societies are my forte. I actually bought this book for my kindle last year when it came out, but failed to return to it until last week. I am so glad I did. The Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt takes us to a future where all seems lost. Life can no longer be made, so the Council has decided to create a superior "race" to keep watch over the Naturals. The idea of the Council is so hauntingly real, and I think that's what really kept me craving more. There are the rules: Naturals all bunk together in horribly crowded living conditions, while the Chosen Ones have their own boarding house that provides them with food, education, and every luxury the Naturals are prevented from having. If a Natural is disobedient and deserves to be punished, they will be branded with marks on their neck signifying how "lucky" they are to receive 3 stikes.
Tess is so cold. After her sister's death, she is unable to forgive her brother in law, unable to get close to any of her remaining family members, and just closes herself off from the world. I found her character was so broken, and in desperate need of affection, but she refused it. She is not a typical heroine, and she is by no means "liked" by any of the other characters. As a reader, I felt bad for the characters she was rejecting because I knew how badly she need some kind of positive emotion in her life. She meets James, but she does everything in her power to fight the emotions she feels. She is so set on following the Council's rules that she ignores the fact that this boy is different than the other Chosen Ones; she still can't trust him.
Throughout the book I found myself highlighting a lot of the lines because there were so beautiful and telling about the character. The more I read, the more I wanted because I could see the uncertainty within Tess. She wanted to learn more, she wanted to prove herself, and you can tell something is stirring.
This book was a great read. I finished it within a week because I just couldn't stay away from it for too long. After I finished it, I immediately bought the second one in the series because I need to keep the story going.
People may be skeptical about the book because Tess's character can be seen as an ungrateful brat, but I truly believe inside she's an empty shell. James teaches her to be human, to feel something again, and I think that is the amazing thing. If you're into the dystopian society scene, this one is worth checking out!