Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Published: 10th February 2015 by Orion
Length: 383 pages
Where I got it: Library
Why I got it: My friend. More on that below.
Summary from Goodreads:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
I will be very honest with you and tell you I wasn’t in a hurry to pick this book up. It sounded very typical of the YA fantasy/dystopian worlds that we’ve already seen before and there were other more exciting books to get to. However, a friend of mine could not stop obsessing over this book ever since she read it and kept pushing me to pick it up. I made her a deal so when my library TBR pile dies down I will read it and so after a while I did give it a go. We share identical reading tastes and I’ve seen nothing but praise for this book so I wasn’t going into this book with low expectations but I wasn’t exactly hyped to read it.
It was everything I expected it to be. You had the unfair classing system. You had the female protagonist that doesn’t fit in. You have a handful of gorgeous male royalty that adore the main character. You had the equally attractive male best friend. You had evil King and Queen. You had the family that depends on the protagonist. You get the point. We’ve all seen this before in both the fantasy and dystopia sections of YA.
But, Nattie, I’ve seen that you gave this book a 4.5-star rating. What’s up with that? Well, that’s the thing: I couldn’t help but find this novel absolutely incredible.
Although this novel has elements and tropes that may be quite predictable and includes things that we’ve seen before in YA (some of which are kind of overused but that’s something for another post), the books was unputdownable (yes I found out that is actually a word!). From the writing style to the fast pacing to the brilliantly complex characters, this book was brilliant. That’s hard to do! Especially since, like I said, many of things that got the story going we’ve seen before but I flew through this novel all the same.
The novel spins around the fact that change needs to happen. The Silvers have been mistreating the Reds for years and Mare wants and tries to do something about it. Here comes the interesting part: there is no good way to go about this. Usually as a reader I’ll find myself on the side of the “good guys”, which is normally the side of the protagonist. In this book, not so much. I understood both sides and felt for both of them but could not decided whether either of them were right. It is something I haven’t experienced before with a book. That struggle between the good and bad has a very different dynamic from any of the books that I’ve read in the past.
Let just tell you that Victoria Aveyard does not hold back on the twists and turns. I was only half way through this read before I had to get my friend on the phone saying, “HOW MANY PLOT TWISTS CAN YOU PACK INTO 400 PAGES???”. This was the reason I couldn’t stop reading Red Queen and the reason I believe this novel stands out. Many authors who set their books in the future or a fantasy setting will spend a good chunk of the book building the world before starting to break it apart to show weaknesses and faults in the that particular setting. Red Queen is no slow burner, not even in the beginning. The twists get thrown at you from all directions from the get-go and I don’t believe there’s a single dull moment in the entire book.
As for out female protagonist, Mare, she was quite average. She had that slightly annoying trait of stubbornness when trying to save everyone (or rather one specific person) and at times she wasn’t thinking very realistically. I guess, you could say it was justified but at some points I felt like she refused to see another point of view and shifted blame and responsibility in a way that I didn’t particularly agree with. The character that stood out to me as my absolute favourite was Cal. I won’t talk about him too much because that could get spoiler-y but I felt like he was the realest character from the whole lot and I really enjoyed his personality also.
I would recommend Red Queen to Sarah J. Maas fans and people who enjoy YA fantasy in general. You might feel like you’re just reading a story that you’ve already heard over and over, in YA especially, but once the first 100 pages pass, the story moves past what was already summed up in the blurb at the back of the book and the story really gets interesting. I can’t wait for the sequel, coming this February!