Review: ‘Red Queen’ by Victoria Aveyard

22328546This 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…

[From Goodreads.]

Book details

Genre: Young Adult

Publisher: HarperTeen

ISBN: 9780062310637

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Review

Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel did not disappoint, even though the odds were most definitely not in its favor by the time I started reading it. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere for months. Everybody I know has raved about it, including my sister, who initially wouldn’t let me read her copy because she didn’t want me to “ruin” it for her. (Apparently I have a tendency to nitpick. She hates it when I point out the character flaws and plot holes in her favourite books.)

Red commoner Mare is a heroine fit to join the ranks of Katniss and Tris, with her impoverished background and determination to save her people whatever the cost. She has that whole Abnegation vibe going on, but she’s also a little reserved. Not to mention furious with the state of her kingdom. A twist of fate sends her falling, literally, into the most dangerous place for a girl of her status, and she finds herself drowning in a world of lies, war and deadly power. But Mare has power of her own, and her decisions will lead to a dangerous unbalance that could potentially bring the Silver elite to its knees.

I loved the concept behind Red Queen, which is perhaps why I couldn’t help but forgive certain aspects that arguably should have bothered me. Aveyard’s premise is unique and refreshing, even if her characters and their situations are almost reminiscent of other popular Young Adult novels.

Aveyard’s world building is also incredible. When she started describing the Stilts or the Hall or Whitefire, I felt like I was standing right there with her. It’s not often that a debut author is able to develop a world so clearly in her own mind, and then transport her readers there with seemingly no effort on her part. It was a wonderful experience. Even if I hadn’t loved Red Queen, I would read Glass Sword simply to return to the Kingdom of Norta again.

Oh, and her writing… I need more of Aveyard’s writing in my life. You know how some authors can just make you forget that you’re reading a book? You feel like you’re inside the story watching it unfold. The writing isn’t distracting or pretentious – it’s just there, but it’s perfect. That was the writing in Red Queen.

Overall, I can completely understand all the hype around this book. It’s definitely worth a read, but don’t delve into the story with skyscraper expectations.

4 stars

Rating: 4/5

Recommended to: Fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent and Graceling.

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The Last Word

**SPOILER ALERT**

The “love triangle” (I’m not even sure it was a love triangle. It was complicated. I still don’t entirely know what was going on) seriously got on my nerves. I hate it when authors make the heroine choose between two brothers – it’s weird. Isn’t there some sort of code against that sort of thing?

Anyway, I was fuming by the time the Big Betrayal took place.

And then: “I choose no one.”

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Hallelujah. Finally, the heroine doesn’t have to choose a romantic counterpart. Victoria Aveyard, you’re amazing.

(Even if Mare falls in love in the future, at least she didn’t give in to the emotional pressure of “needing” a relationship with Cal at a time when she wasn’t feeling sure of herself. That makes me really happy.)

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