Oh Red Queen you are a challenging review to write. It took me quite a while to feel ready to read my copy ofRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard despite having picked it up on it’s release date in 2015. There was so much pre-release hype surrounding Red Queen that I was really excited for it but once the reviews started coming in the general consensus was very mixed. Then I stopped hearing about it for a while and it kind of fell off of my radar but with the release of Glass Sword (the second book in the Red Queen trilogy) rapidly approaching my interest level sparked again. I ended up really enjoying Red Queen and I will definitely be picking up the sequel but I do recognize the flaws that are present in the story. Red Queen is a fantasy novel set in a dystopian world about a girl named Mare who was born into a society where people are discriminated against based on the color of their blood. Mare is a Red which is the low class but she soon discovers that she has an ability, something only seen in Silver bloods.
First of all, Victoria Aveyard can write. The story Aveyard tells is exciting, the characters are compelling, the pacing is on point and the worldbuilding is all encompassing. Red Queen is a book that hooked me from the start and I genuinely enjoyed all of my time spent in the world of the Reds and the Silvers. There are plenty of action packed scenes and there are plot twists and turns that’ll keep you on your toes. Plus, the characters are what had me invested. I like the main character, Mare, who’s your typical YA heroine complete with sass and the hope that she can change the world for the better. Mare is family oriented and makes the best choices she can in the society she was born into. We get a good feel for her home life but it isn’t until later on that we meet my favorite characters, the royals. There’s Prince Tiberias who will be the successor to the King, Prince Maven, the often overlooked younger brother, Queen Elara, the wicked stepmother with the ability to read minds, and the King himself who honestly doesn’t play too huge of a role. I also appreciated that the story is not romance heavy (at least not yet).
My main issue with Red Queen is that while I really enjoyed reading the book, I couldn’t help feeling like I had already read the same story as told by other authors. The two big series Red Queen mimics are The Hunger Games and The Selection series. There’s an event in the beginning of the book where women are competing to be the Prince’s bride which felt a heck of a lot like a condensed version of The Selection. There are several other direct parallels between each series but some of them may be argued away since they’re all dystopian so some elements (oppressive governments spewing propaganda, rebel groups looking to overturn a corrupt society, ie) are to be expected. I listened to a podcast which interviewed Victoria Aveyard after finishing the book and I learned that the world was supposed to mirror Ancient Rome which I didn’t totally get while I was reading. The only indicator were the one on one battles between Silvers where the rest of the population would spectate and I wish it had been more clear than that. I’m also hoping that Glass Sword will include a map.
Final Thoughts: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is an entertaining and action packed story that reads like a film. There are constant plot twists, the writing is beautiful and the characters will capture your heart. There’s no doubt that the story is derivative of other popular YA dystopians such as The Hunger Games and The Selection but it is enjoyable nonetheless. If you’re looking for a fast paced story featuring a outspoken female heroine in a well developed dystopian world you should pick up Red Queen.
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart … (via Goodreads)