Review · Science Fiction · Young Adult

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria AveyardSynopsis from the Inside Cover:

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into 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 her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

Review:

In Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard, the world is divided into Silver bloods and Red bloods. The Silvers developed powers (water, mind control, healing, etc.), making them like gods. The Reds did not develop powers and must now serve the elite Silvers. Mare Barrow and her family are Reds. She finds herself employed at the royal palace where, in front of all Silver nobility, she discovers she has her own power. In order to save face, she is disguised as a long lost Silver princess. While performing this character under the close watch of the queen, she joins the Scarlet Guard, which leads the Red rebellion. Mare begins to play the game of thrones, where, according to Cersei Lannister, “you win or you die.”

The cover perfectly represented the Silvers and the Reds. The crown with the red blood dripping off of it impeccably represents Mare, the Red in Silver’s clothing. It also showed the deadly game Mare plays by being in her position. It is a beautiful cover.

A while ago, I saw BookTubers were talking about Red Queen, and I saw it on the shelves at the bookstore. At that time, I kept thinking that it was a historical fiction novel. I finally decided to buy it and read it. It turned out to be a good book. It reminded me of Simone King’s Blood Lines. For once, the rebellious side didn’t want to have a war that lasted years; rather, it wanted to take over as quickly as possible. There were a handful twists, but only two of them were great. The rest were unsurprising. The place it fell short, for advertising it, is romance. I like a played down romance normally, but it seemed that Mare wasn’t in love with either of the princes. There seems to be a third love interest in her childhood friend, but he receives little depth and attention. Must the girl always be blind to the love from her childhood friend?

While the plot is mostly character-driven, the characters were not as developed as I would have liked. The protagonist, Mare, develops in that she realizes what power, more than electricity, she wields and how politics work. She still seems flat because it is unclear what she loves, hates, dreams or fears. Also, her romantic interactions with the princes seem superficial. Cal gains depth from what she sees at first and the stories she hears from Maven and her tutor. He lacks development over the course of the story, though. Maven surprised me by embracing his engagement to a Red; I expected a temper tantrum or pouting. He also shares the commonality of living in a sibling’s shadow with Mare. Aveyard juxtaposed the shadowed sibling from families of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

The society and magic system were explained well and timed appropriately. Aveyard cleverly gave names for the Silvers with certain powers—nymph for water users, whisper for mind controllers, etc. I wish it had been easier to tell the presumed location of this post-apocalyptic kingdom. The Hunger Games is easy to figure out based on the districts’ exports. If I assume Red Queen is set in what used to be the United States, the Lakelands would be the Great Lakes region. While it is not important to the plot to know where this kingdom is situated, it is important to keep track of the prejudice. The Reds live in rundown villages and ratty homes. The worst villages are that of the techies. They are never allowed to leave or go to war, and they are trapped in the pollution that was created by making things for the Silvers.

Two themes I found are betrayal and appearance in politics. “Anyone can betray anyone.” This quote is repeated several times, and it is the subject of many lessons between Mare and her favorite tutor. To keep control of the people, the government has to maintain appearances. The Silvers were thrown into a panic at the sight of a Red having powers, so the king and queen covered it up and explained it in a way that would keep the Silvers calm and under control.

This is a good dystopian YA novel, and I look forward to the release of Red Queen‘s sequel. You may want to avoid this novel if you don’t believe in evolution since it is important to the history and plot.

Genres: Fantasy YA, Dystopian, Romance

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

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