Book Review: Red Queen
By: Victoria Aveyard
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 1, 2015
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy
There is so much buzz around this novel that I was slightly intimidated. What if this one didn't live up to the hype? What if I was the only one who hated it? Was I really the best Lark to tackle this one? All of these questions swirled in my brain as my finger hovered over the download button on Edelweiss. I'm not always into fantasy reads - particular those with a dystopian flare - so I thought perhaps letting another Lark read and review this one would be best. I honestly don't know what happened. I kept gazing at the cover and before I realized what I had done the novel was zipping its way to my Kindle. At that point, I had to read it, right?
I began reading Red Queen with trepidation, but I soon settled into Mare's world. I found that I enjoyed her narrative style and saw her as a kindred spirit. Mare, like my teen self, felt like she couldn't quite find her place in her family or her world. I liked that Mare stood out in her family and community. Granted at the beginning she is more well known for being a thief than anything positive, she soon finds that she is far more special than anyone could have predicted.
I was fascinated by the structure of this society. The people are born with either red blood or silver blood. The silver bloods have gifts beyond normal human abilities. For example, some silvers can control fire while others have the ability to heal. I loved learning about the various silver blood skills. The society mimicked history in many ways. The stronger silver bloods dominate the red bloods and run society forcing the red bloods to work in lumber camps, on farms, and in factories. Red bloods are viewed as disposable and are often used in military capacities. The silver bloods live a more lavish lifestyle and many have no job beyond training to enhance their ability. Societal conflict in fiction always lures me in and helps me think about the issues around the world.
I also found the notion of violence in this one led me to some thought provoking moments. Is violence okay when one group subjugates another? Is violence okay when innocents can be effected if the goal is to make larger societal changes? Does violence make one a hero or a villain?
I don't want to speak too much about the plot because it is best experienced organically. I loved the intricate twists and turns that Aveyard weaves into Mare's story. There were some moments that felt predictable and then I discovered I had things wrong all along. I love when authors keep me on my toes. I am excited to read the next installment.
My one major lingering curiosity concerns the silver bloods. How did the evolve beyond the normal red blooded human? What caused them to be gifted while others are not? I hope these questions are addressed in the future novels.
I found Red Queen to be a dark, twisted fantasy with elements of X-Men, The Hunger Games, and Cinderella. These are not inspirations for the story (that I know of) but I couldn't help making these comparisons. That enhanced my reading experience. I couldn't have started 2015 with a better read!
One Last Gripe: I'm always irked by love triangles, but this one had a love square. Mare is awesome, but I find the fact that three guys love her to be a bit unrealistic.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved learning about all the silver abilities.
First Sentence: I hate First Friday.
Favorite Character: Mare
Least Favorite Character: The Queen
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.