Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
Oh, the rich Gothic setting! This was a weird and ambitious novel. Based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, Griffin does an outstanding job in the world-building department. She created a lavishly dark and ominous story, so urgently fast paced that it's painful to stop reading. I has hooked right away, enveloped in her gloomy fog of decay and death.
Araby lives in a corrosive city cursed by a deadly plague. Under a tyrannic ruler, citizens live heavily divided by social classes and protected by masks, if they can afford it. Corpse-Collectors pick up bodies every morning, but Araby's privileged life allows her to lose herself at night in glitter-wearing club parties with her friend, April. She uses these parties to try to forget what goes on outside and to deal with her grief over her dead brother, Finn.
And thus, the story begins with no warning, and throws the reader in this deliciously Gothic setting with twists and unexpected turns, where not even the romance is predictable. Part dystopia, part steampunk, this is one of the weirdest books I've read, and it is definitely a good kind of weird. The writing was really good in a new way too, it attempted to be modern and old-fashioned at the same time. In my opinion, it definitely worked.
My only complaint? The ending was very unsatisfying, in the I-need-more sense. A cliffhanger that left me almost angry that I couldn't keep reading, just as things were getting good.
Overall, this is definitely a book that brings new material to YA. Weirdly imaginative and atmospheric, this one will leave you wanting more of this glorious world of shadows.