I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play 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 everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
Red Queen is probably one of the most hyped up 2015 releases. To be honest, promise me magic and courtly politics, offer me that kind of beautiful cover, and I’m all in. I definitely enjoyed Red Queen and think it’s a promising start to an awesome series, but some parts of it fell a little bit flat.
I will say that Red Queen and I got off to a very rocky start. I was hit over the head with so many Hunger Games parallels that I almost considered giving up. Though Red Queen is a high fantasy, it’s very much set in a dystopia. In this dystopia, normal red-blooded Reds are living in terrible conditions, living to serve the silver-blooded, magic wielding Silvers, providing them with all the products and services they need to keep the economy going. They are oppressed and intimidated most visibly by the arena battles, where two Silvers dual monthly as “entertainment” – though it’s really more to show off their power. Reds are required to watch the arena battles and often make bets on the fighters. There’s also a clear class divide – the Reds have basically nothing, while the Silvers live the most extravagant lifestyles with luxurious clothes, jewels, etc. Unless Reds can get an apprenticeship, they’re sent off to fight in the war when they come of age. Does any of this sound familiar? Yeah, to me as well.
Now, many dystopian societies will probably have elements like this, but in tone, especially with Mare’s internal criticisms of the ridiculousness she sees around her, it was very much The Hunger Games and Katniss Mark II. But, after about 20%, the story finally got some originality. When Mare gets drawn into the world of the Silvers upon discovering her own magic, the story got a lot more interesting. In fact, the different kinds of magic and the royal Silver houses were really cool. I liked the courtly political aspects (except for the jealous mean girl), as I often do in high fantasy, because it’s just so much schemy goodness.
Part of the reason why this book will remain in the average range for me, though, is because I don’t care much for the characters. I am all about characters. I read for characters. If their personalities don’t come to life for me, I can easily get bored. Now, Mare isn’t the worst, and I was drawn into her story because of her frustrations with the society and her desire to protect her loved ones, but I hardly formed a real connection to her. I’m more bothered by how everyone seems to be in love with her. She’s got her childhood friend back in her slum village and then BOTH princes. They’re infatuated. And it may be to varying degrees and it might not all be real, but it’s such a “she’s so speshul” kind of thing that I raise some serious eyebrow at. And it seemed like the romance should have been a big thing (a whole rebellion hinges on it at one point), but then it wasn’t because Mare herself doesn’t really return their feelings. She lets them kiss her, but whatever. I guess it’s cool that she isn’t really interested, but I don’t know. It was all so pointless! I wanted to ship something! I actually shipped nothing. Three potential love interests and I don’t care? Wow, fail.
I would say that the story is worth pushing through, because it really takes some turns that I did not expect. The ending kept me on the edge of my seat. They really meant it when they said anyone could betray you. WOAH. With bloody deaths and action packed battles, I was suddenly absorbed by the story. And the rebellion gets interesting, with some previous mysteries unfurled… I ended up being really entertained. I think the series has a LOT of potential, because the story is really strong.