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Reading Between Classes

A unique perspective on YA Literature from a junior high teacher. 

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Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin Cover Impressions: The cover does an excellent job of expressing the dark and foreboding mood of this novel. I am a fan of the oppressive fog and the red highlights that provide a sense of mystery. The title font is PERFECT, antique-looking but clearly legible. The Gist: Araby Worth spends her nights chasing oblivion in the Debauchery District. She seeks solace from the world outside, a world of death, disease and fear. The plague that decimated the city left her family elevated in society but shattered and haunted. When a night of revelry brings Araby to the attention of Will, the well-meaning older brother and Elliot, the reckless leader of a rebellion, she must shake off her stupor and finally decide if there are people in this world worth fighting for.Review: Bethany Griffin is one brave lady. It takes guts to take on a master like Edgar Allen Poe. I love using Poe in my grade 7, 8 and 9 English classes, especially around Halloween. The kids enjoy the foreboding tone and dark imagery. Griffin manages to elicit the same ominous feel and sense of decrepit grandeur in her book. There is a beautiful dichotomy between the peasants ravaged by plague and the sheer opulence of Araby's lifestyle. As a character, Araby is beautifully flawed. In the beginning, we see an empty, thoughtless shell of a girl. One that is guilt-ridden and bent on wasting away slowly and painfully. She is unable to recognize love and caring in those around her. Araby is easily led into betraying her father and endangering the entire city. It is as if she were waiting for someone to ask her to do something, anything, to tilt the precarious balance that the city has reached. As the story progresses, Araby begins to drop some of her carefully constructed walls and we get the merest glimpse into the strong and selfless individual that she might become. For most of this novel, the action creeps along with a few tense moments here and there, much like the city, seething slowly but steadily until it erupts into a cacophony of violence that last until the final pages. There are some dull moments in the middle but if you persist and push through, you will be rewarded. Teaching/Parental Notes:Age: 15 and upGender: FemaleSex: NoneViolence: Murders, Riots, Beatings, Swordplay, Gunplay.Inappropriate Language: NoneSubstance Abuse: Underage drinking, Use of needle drugs