When I started reading, I wasn't sure if I would like this book. It started out sounding very shallow and uninteresting. But the book, like many of its characters, is very deceptive at first. It eventually unravels into a fascinating story with complex characters.
In this dystopian world, there is a plague called the Weeping Sickness, killing countless people. Araby is the daughter of the scientist responsible for the masks that prevent people from catching this plague, but the prince limits access to them so that the rich are safe and the poor are left in a state of desperation and fear. Araby and her best friend April forget all the pain around them by drinking and abusing drugs in the Debauchery District.
Araby and April are not entirely what they seem to be on the surface. Araby is living with the guilt of her twin brother's death, and made a vow to never enjoy the things he would want to but now obviously can't. Suffering from depression, nightmares, and a family that hasn't been the same since her brother died, she abuses a drug called oblivion to cope with the pain. She becomes the heroine of this story when she meets a boy who tells her about a revolution that can save the city.
April is the prince's niece and unlike Araby she's born into privilege. Jaded and self-aware, she uses her looks to get by, and seems about as shallow as they come at first. April has to be the most surprising and delightful character for me. She knows how to fool people, has no interest in being the good girl, and turns out to be one of the most complicated characters in the story.
I don't want to give away too many spoilers. But the novel is full of death, revolutions, rebellions, betrayal, and explosions. The author creates a dark mood throughout the entire story. All in all this was an excellent homage to Edgar Allen Poe.
There are two boys, Elliott, April's insane brother, and Will who has his secrets. It's obvious that an obnoxious love triangle is going to form between those two and Araby, and this is the story's biggest flaw for me because I am tired of YA writers using the love triangle in their stories. Please, try something else. Anything else. The love triangle is getting old and way too obvious. I keep hoping for YA to evolve past this point.
But, if it bothered me that much, I'd give up reading YA by this point, which hasn't happened yet. So I'm just thankful that the story was interesting enough for me to forgive that flaw. I only hope the sequel proves to be equally intriguing.