Author: Victoria Aveyard
Book Title: Red Queen
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance, Dystopia
Type: Series (Book #1)
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
Publishing Date: February 10, 2015
Summary: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood – those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own – an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard – the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince – and Mare against her own heart.
From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal. [summary from dust jacket]
My Thoughts: The Red Queen was such a familiar kind of story, which isn’t all that unusual in the dystopian kind of genre, but it also felt fresh despite the similarities to other novels. Mare Barrow, our leading lady who is more of a brash no-bullshit kind of chick who thinks everything is her fault, was a mash up of characters like Katniss from THG, Alina from the Grisha Trilogy, Kelsea from Queen of the Tearling, and Tris from Divergent. Like all of them she started out as nothing particularly special. Girls who were quite ordinary when we first met them and then in the blink of an eye they are catapulted into a fast-paced and dangerous roller coaster ride. They all share hidden things that make them uniquely special too.
Mare is a red blood, which basically equates to being the value of a cockroach, and under normal circumstances she would never usually garner any attention from anyone but being true to form, we know that this will be short lived. The people in this novel are divided by the color of their blood, which is a pretty cool idea and one that reminds me a lot of the Grisha series where regular folks are below the all-powerful Grisha. Here it is the same, there are the red bloods who are weak and dirt poor, and on the opposite side there are the silver bloods who are the elite class of people with a lineage straight from the gods. The similarity to Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy (which I reviewed here) is what first snagged my attention and another reviewer mentioned that she thought one of the Prince’s in this book reminded her of a young Darkling. *swoon* That series was so addictive that the mere mention of the Darkling had me itching to buy this book, so I did and I’m glad. The pacing of the plot was quick and held my interest all the way through. There was never a moment where I felt as though the author was just wasting time until the next exciting thing happened. All of the information presented in this first installment felt very critical to the overall world building and the books still yet to come and I think that Aveyard is a solid writer. Her characters are fleshed out enough to make you feel connected to them but they also have secrets that keep the reader wanting to know more.
I’ve already told you how I felt that this relates mostly to the Grisha trilogy so now let me tell you what things made me think of those other books I mentioned. First up, The Hunger Games. This world of Reds and Silvers is an odd place, much like the districts versus the capitol city. The rich capitol citizens live in the lap of luxury and they take such freedoms for granted. The character divide here is equally sickening seeing how the Reds can barely provide enough food for their families and most kids are sent off to the war (girls and boys alike) once they hit 18, but the Silvers never have to fear any of this. They have lavish dinners, clothing made of silk, and special abilities that make them deadly. Mare is a tough girl who has a best friend that just so happens to be a hot guy that has feelings for her, much like Gale loves Katniss. Things between them are awkward at times but their loyalty to one another is unwavering. There are two other guys in the picture as well that make for some good drama but luckily, for those of you who hate romance being thrown into the mix, this book isn’t focused on that angle too much. It is more about Mare, her ability, and the dangers she faces because of it, which brings me to Divergent. Having a secret ability is something that Tris is no stranger to, especially since people like her are hunted down and killed just for being that way. Mare is sort of in the same boat here, although some people know that she is a Red with an ability, most think she is a Silver, as they’re the only race of people who are known to be blessed with such gifts. If anyone were to discover her secret she could be killed and it would cause a major imbalance between the two races of people. Lastly, Kelsea, the Queen of the Tearling, is described as being very bland in appearance and she is unprepared to live the life that she is suddenly thrown into. Much like Alina from the Grisha books, all three of these girls are special but they lack the self confidence to really make a huge impact right away. Their personal development comes very slowly as they learn how to use their particular gifts and how to acclimate to the culture of people they’re now living amongst.
Overall, this novel was an exciting read throughout and I recommend it to anyone who also loves the books I’ve mentioned here. It may have been done before but the different spin Aveyard takes is what makes it worth checking out…plus I am a sucker for a pretty cover and this one definitely fits that bill. 😀
Quotable Moments: “In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”