Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin First off, I'd like to thank the magnificent Willowfaerie for her magnificent review of that inspired me to get off my @$$ and finally review this Amazon Vine ARC.

Secondly, I was PLAUGED with this book from Amazon Vine. I couldn't find a MASQUE anywhere that could PREVENT this DISEASE.

Thirdly, while I have adopted a new 25% rule, I didn't use it on this book for two reasons. Number 1, I like to make an effort to read Vine books all the way through, and Number 2, I was too engrossed by the WTF in this book to give up.

With that out of the way...

OH. MY. GOD! This book was dreadful. My 100+ status updates (filled with gif spam) can kinda of show the mind-numbingly awfulness of this book. I almost don't know where to begin.

No, wait, I do. Araby Worth...LESS. Araby is our protagonist, our main character. I would call her a "heroine", but she's more like "heroin". There is very little redeemable or likeable or even just interesting about her.

Woe is me, my life is so horrible - I haven't gone to Hot Topic in three whole days!

In the agonizing beginning half, she whines about EVERYTHING. She hates on her "best friend", April (who, BTW, is by far one of the best characters in this book). She complains about her friend saving her from jumping - and then whines when a boy she likes saves her out of obligation. She whines that her dad hates her - and then he takes her on a walk, or gives her a poetry book, or basically looks the other way as she proceeds to betray him and expose him to his enemies. She hates on her mother, whom she considers "pathetic" and "weak". She whines about the death of her brother. Oh, and she makes really odd promises - such as not to experience anything her brother won't. Which might not seem to weird until you start realizing the rules. Sex and kissing is off-limits; drug use and wearing corsets apparently is OK (Hey, maybe Finn would have wanted to wear a whalebone corset, who knows?!). Honestly, I wasn't surprised at the vow; I was more surprised at how it was so general, but then applied only to the specific instance of kissing or having sex - very convenient for sexual tension, eh?

And "sexual tension" there is. In spades. Because like ALL Young Adult books - paranormal, urban fantasy, dystopians, and all the books, such as this one, that try to pass off as any of the previous ones - HAS to have a Romantic Triangle. AT LEAST.

The two carboard cutouts - I MEAN!! - romantic interests that plague - POPULATE! - this novel are BoyToy1 (Will) and BoyToy2 (Elliott). (I refuse to acknowledge they have names and "character".) They are basically the only characters that Araby ever respects or trusts or believes - even when she claims she doesn't trust or believe them. The only real difference between the two is that BT1 has two CUTE ADORABLE WIDDLE siblings - you know, to show how kind-hearted and tender and caring he is, while also providing some much needed DRAMAZ over masques and sh!t - and the other is a pyschopath. No really - he dangles Araby over crocodile-infested waters and tells her that, while he may be falling in love with her, he would totally feed her to the crocs, because Rebellion before broads, man. I mean, wouldn't YOU TOTES fall in love with a guy like that? (Oh, right, she doesn't "love" BT2 - she just MIGHT be believing/trusting him. While she listens to his every order and never asks any questions and basically lets him push her around. Yeah, I'm not buying that either.) But he has SCARS! He was held prisoner by his uncle, Prospero! He was ABUSED! Therefore, he needs a little woman to make all his boo-boos go away and feel better!

More of this book is dedicated to Araby being with one of these lifeless hunks of manflesh than to any "dystopia" or "steampunk". In fact, there are several wasted pages with Araby and Will basically playing house with his CUTE WIDDLE siblings (who don't act like any children I've ever seen before). All while her mother has been captured and her father is in hiding. Because the best time to snuggle up to BT1 while wearing his shirt to sleep in is when your family is missing!

Oh, God, the villains. God, the villains. I swear, Prospero and the Reverend came from "Dummies Guide to Villains". The only way to make them worse would be to have them twirl their mustaches and chuckle, as they kicked a sick puppy down a staircase into crocodile-infested waters. Seriously. Prospero even has villain teeth - nice and stained.

But - and I know this is hard to believe - I didn't hate all the characters. Mother, Father, and April were actually my favorites. Mother I felt was misunderstood. In actuality, I see her as a tough woman (we find out that she went through a lot of crap and didn't burden her worthLESS daughter with the details). She worries over her daughter, whom she sees is in pain, but she doesn't know how to help her. So she does her best with the tools at hand. (Not to mention, she's probably also coping with Finn's death?) Father was awesome; he's that bad @$$ absent-minded professor. He really cares about his daughter, but he blames himself for all the deaths and the death of his son, so he locks himself away physically and emotionally. When he does try to reach out to his daughter, his daughter is so locked in herself, she just shuts him down. And then there's April. I didn't think I'd add her to my favorite characters, but when she makes quips about the redness of her lipstick and then shoulders a musket and fires down a ladder on an airship and HITS the guy she was aiming at - yeah, why wasn't she the protagonist again?

I guess the story is supposed to be about rebelling against Prospero and the Reverend. But that would require the book to be a dystopian. Instead, this is yet another romance masquerading as a dystopian. Throw in a villain, make it hundreds of years in the future, have people dying and voila! Insta-dystopian!

Most of the book is watching Araby be an idiot. The first half, she stumbles around Clubs, acting like a moron and forcing other people to save her. The second half, she lets a man she barely knows tell her what to do, expose her AND HER FAMILY to danger, and forces other people to save her. Oh, and this guy she lets order her around? That would be psychopath BT2 - you know, the one who said he'd throw her to the crocs for his Rebellion. Yeah. As I was reading one stupid thing after another that she doesn't, I couldn't help but think:

And now, let's talk about diseases. And masques. And how the frak does this one work? So, lemme get this straight: the people wear masques to prevent disease. OK, I get that. But then, there is no way to keep the inflicted away from the healthy? Uh...quarantine anyone? And then everyone takes off their frakkin' masque for anything - to breathe (because you can't???), to kiss, because it's itchy, because it doesn't look good with leather - I mean, seriously, if this is the big way to keep from getting sick, then WEAR THE DAMN MASQUE ALREADY! This isn't rocket science!

But no, wait! Now people are squeamish about touching infected. Because now it's transmitted via contact?

I suspect the germs crawled off his lank brown hair and infested everything.

RIGHT! That's how disease works! Germs ride on a person's hair and when they meet their victim, they get off and leap onto their victim, thus infecting them!

And then add in how apparently BT1 and Araby can ride in an air balloon ABOVE the disease, and I have absolutely no clue about anything anymore. I honestly think the disease is transmittable via PlotContrivancitis.

I'm starting to run out of steam, but I have one more area I must address before I end this novel-length review. Steampunk. Steampunk has a very unique feel and look. In short, steampunk should look like this:

or this:

or this:

NOT this:

It has clocks on it - STEAMPUNK!

or this:

See?! Whalebone corset! TOTALLY steampunk!

or this:

Anything Abe Lincoln must be Steampunk...right?

I don't read just to snark on books and give them bad reviews. I really want to love every book that I read. But this book just did not mesh with me. At all. The most enjoyment I got out of it was all the gaping I was doing at how dumb Araby acted and the completely predictable nature of the book. I personally don't recommend reading this unless you are up for snark bait. I most certainly will not be seeking out the next book in this trilogy.