by Victoria Aveyard
Expected Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Length: 400 pages
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for a final review. This is no way affected my final opinion of the work.
#1 in series
View at the Traffic light:
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.
Oh yeah. The Red Queen was fast-paced, exciting, and downright brutal. While not perfect, I was surprised by how engrossed I got into this story. At first, I thought The Red Queen and I were headed to a hasty break-up. Somehow it was managing to hit ALL my fantasy turn-offs(well, except for starting with a sparring scene)–arranged marriages, something that looked like it could develop into a love triangle, a Selection-style competition, and division of labor that’s not explained properly. BUT you know you have a good book on your hands when it can take all those over-done story conventions and turn them on their head.
The world-building of The Red Queen never gets overly complex, but perhaps that’s for the best. The world is divided into those with silver blood and red blood. Those with silver have superpowers, and have thus manage to create a world in which they are the ruling class. It’s all pretty simple for Mare, the main character, until she–and all the royals along with her–discover she has powers of her own, despite her red blood. From there, Mare is tossed into a game of conspiracy and rebellion, and while playing her part to keep herself alive.
The superpowers in The Red Queen were so unique! I’ve noticed that superpowers seem to be an up-and-coming microtrend in YA(the powes in the Shatter Me series comes to mind), but I feel they’re better developed here. While I think there could have been more back story on the world and how these powers develop, I’m willing to overlook that since this book is the first in a series and that information often comes later.
Perhaps the cover should have been a tip-off, but this book is downright bloody. It makes sense in a book that’s all about blood–where you come from, what color your blood is, etc. There’s so much blood spilling out of these pages. I love when authors aren’t afraid to go dark, dark, dark. There were so many twists and turns and the pace never lets up even for a second.
That being said, I didn’t find The Red Queen to be flawless. I wouldn’t say the plot overall feels contrived, but there were definitely some plot holes–or rather, things that could have easily been plot holes and I found it slightly incredulous the characters managed to escape them. I did find the beginning of the book to be rather predictable and I wouldn’t be surprised if that part puts some readers off. Of COURSE the main character comes from a large family in a poor town. OF COURSE she has a brother off at war. OF COURSE she happens to be good at stealing things and that’s how she helps provide for her family. Stop me if that sounds familiar. In that respect, I could have done with some more originality in Mare’s character(and her development), but it didn’t put me off the book and I’m glad I didn’t let it.
If the beginning was typical, the ending was the opposite. A book that has a cover dripping blood should be a sign, but the last 25% of this book just made me race towards the ending. I LOVE it when authors don’t go the safe routes with their characters and everything about the ending of The Red Queen was fitting and perfect. It left me satisfied while also eagerly anticipating the second book, which is the best possible situation you could want your reader in. If you’re a fan of darker YA fantasy like Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, pick this one up!
The Red Queen contained a lot of fantasy conventions I usually hate, but I was impressed by how this book managed to make me forget that I typically hate those things and instead twisted them into something completely new. I was totally rooting for Mare and the ending left me breathless. 4/5 cupcakes.