Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series? Yes. 1 of 3.
Ratings: 4/5 stars
I had my expectations cautiously lowered for this book because of some reviews I’ve seen, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Red Queen. I love the setting, it combines my two weaknesses: superhero powers and colour coordination!
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.
In this world, there’s a stark racial divide between Silvers: the ruling elite, and the Reds: common humans who serve them. Two things separate the them i) the colour of their blood and ii) the Silvers each have a special ability, whether it be element control, inhuman strength, mind reading or even immediate foresight. The lines between the two worlds begin to blur when a minority of the Reds starts rebelling against the oppressive rule of the Silver. This line is further broken by the emergence of our heroine, Mare Barrows, who bleeds crimson blood but has a special ability not even the Silvers possesses.
As mentioned, my favourite part of this book by far is the setting. It combines familiar elements such as class divide, royalty, and superpowers in ways that I found very engaging. However, I felt particular parts were not fully fleshed out enough e.g. clearer rules to how abilities work (like Brandon Sanderson level detail, please, because I love reading about this stuff), if all Silver children inherited their father’s abilities: how are there so many different abilities still around? I also got major deja vu in the beginning due to the similarities to The Hunger Games (down to the mandatory public ‘entertainment’, male childhood friend & sweet little sister).
I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.
I also loved Mare, who never became lovesick though she was not immune to the charms of her princes. There was no eye-rolly moony-eyed moments. Instead, she had her priorities straight and for the most part acted logically. In cases where she trusted too quickly, she had to face the consequences. There was also a sense that you could not trust anyone throughout the whole novel, which I liked, as it helped me spotted the plot twist from way ahead 😉 I wish that the other characters, especially our villains, got more character development. Whatever, I’m gonna hold onto my head-canon that Evangeline is more than meets the eye! What’s more, we know for sure the main baddie of the next book will be plenty layered.
“You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution on some teenaged love story? I can’t believe this.
I feel that Ms Aveyard set out to break down the love triangle & love-will-prevail trope in YA. Mare is literally Cinderalla, raised from poverty into royal luxury, with two princes chasing her to boots. However, this dream is actually a nightmare: her princes have questionable motives, everyone in the court wants her removed, the girl can’t even risk a papercut anymore! I don’t want to spoil too much, but I really liked the ending of the book because it played against my expectations of fictional teenage infatuation. I’m also very excited to see the larger political issue develop in the next book. But again I can’t help but think of The Hunger Games when I saw how the rebellion played out (Little Lightning Girl VS The Girl on Fire showdown?)
In summary, I thought that this was a very fun read and I will certainly be picking up the next book. My primary reservation is that aside from Mare, the other characters are a bit flat. While there’s a lot of breakdown of tropes, there’s also a whole heap of familiar plot lines in Red Queen.