Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Publication: February 12th 2015 by Orion
Format: Paperback Pages: 383
‘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.‘– Goodreads
Red Queen was a remarkably ordinary novel. I didn’t find anything original or new in this novel, the plot was predictable and the general storyline felt recycled. Which is why I’m shocked that this has a 4+ average on Goodreads. (Maybe avoid reading this review if you’re a fan.)
The Red Queen world is divided into Red and Silver – with the Reds being ‘normal’ humans and the Silvers being something like X-Men in a Jane Austen setting. Due to their powers, the Silvers consider themselves akin to gods and, as a result, treat the Reds like slaves. The Reds live a miserable existence where their young are forcibly conscripted to fight what seems like a never-ending Silver war. And that’s basically the world we’re dealing with here.
The story begins with Mare, our protagonist. She starts off as a character with potential, someone I thought I’d get along with because she’s a skilled thief making the most of the crap cards she’s been dealt. Mare’s anxious and worried at the start of the novel because she’s almost old enough to be conscripted. However, her fate changes when the Silver royalty find out that she’s a Red with Silver powers. She’s quickly enrolled into the Silver world where she’s forced to pretend to be something she’s not, she has to endure lessons that turn her from street rat to a princess and someone with a little more control over her powers. It’s during her transition from the Red world to the Silver world that Mare also becomes extremely annoying.
And just like so many of the brazen women gracing my reading list lately, Mare falls for two characters; the prince and his brother. Of course, they love her too, along with another guy in the novel because two guys aren’t enough drama for our heroine to deal with. (Also, why are these heroines so indecisive when it comes to men?).
I really didn’t get along with Mare. Love issues aside, she was terribly over-protective and borderline possessive over Kilorn, her childhood best friend. Kilorn came into Mare’s life when they were children and she pretty much raised him in a way because he didn’t have anyone else. Kilorn is a bit older than Mare, which is why I found it weird that she was more protective of him than her little sister. Mare’s constant need to save and shelter Kilorn from harm was irritating and condescending, it’s a miracle he put up with her at all.
The special snowflake angle was hilarious. Usually, it’s other characters that tell the special snowflake that they’re special, that they mustn’t dash into danger because they’re one-of-a-kind and important. In Red Queen, Mare’s inflated ego leads to her admitting she has to keep herself safe because she’s different and everyone needs her. See? Hilarious. It’s worse because the novel is written from the first-person perspective.
I didn’t DNF this book because the other characters weren’t terrible and there were plenty of great action scenes. Farley was a saving grace for Red Queen, I wish I could have read from her perspective because I have a feeling her thoughts on Mare would have made me laugh. Although she didn’t get as much screen time as I would have liked, she was the life and soul of the novel; she was strong, funny, selfless, determined, and incredibly brave. Farley has an important role in the Red Guard which, according to the Silvers, is a rebellious group of terrorists – a group that Mare ends up joining. The Red Guard turns out to be far more complicated than anyone imagined, but a lot of its secrets aren’t revealed in Red Queen. I believe the main theme in Red Queen was deception because there’s a whole lot of it. I didn’t trust anyone or anything by the end of the novel.
I thought the Silver abilities were interesting and the parts of the novel where they’re explored, like the fight scenes and Mare’s lessons, were well-written. However, we don’t learn a lot about them from a biological standpoint, we’re just told the Silvers have special abilities, but we never learn about how those abilities came to exist. I’m hoping the following books in the series delve into the abilities in more detail and explain the origins.
The Red Queen was a quick and easy read. It was an ‘okay’ novel, but it didn’t do anything special enough to warrant a rating higher than three stars, and Mare made me knock off a star. I will read Glass Sword to see if the Red Guard and Farley continue to hold my attention, and because I want to learn more about the abilities!