Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

This book sort of fell into my lap. There had been a lot of excitement over Red Queen in 2015, winning GoodRead’s Reader’s Choice award, slated for a movie, etc. So, my sister-in-law picked it up out of curiosity, hoping to discover what all of the hype was about…

…and was sorely disappointed. You can read her two star review here.

She gave the book to me, wondering if I would have the same low opinion. After reading her review I will admit that I had few hopes for Aveyard’s novel.

22328546The Backstory

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 …

My Thoughts?

I have to agree with Mel’s review that this book was incredibly cliched right from the beginning; a rags to riches story, teenage love triangle (square?), young girl chosen as the face of a rebellion… Sounds pretty familiar, especially considering the other top YA novels on the radar right now. Some of the characters fell a bit flat; I had particular issues with the rebels who came across as bland and two dimensional. The ending was somewhat predictable as well.

Despite all that, I actually enjoyed the novel.

Red Queen was a well written work, highlighted by intricately detailed settings, paying special attention to architecture and court life. Aveyard did an excellent job framing battle scenes, made all the more exciting with the myriad of special abilities held by Silver courtiers throwing fire, controlling water or metal, or controlling minds.

The character interaction was interesting, focusing on the love interest(s) of the main heroin, Mare, the loss of her family identity, and interactions with members of the pompous Silver court. Mare finds herself caring for three different boys (a childhood friend, her betrothed, and the boy who got her into this whole mess), leading to the hopelessness and confusion of adolescent love, while trying to juggle to nuances of court life and cope with the grief over a family she may never see again.

Overall I enjoyed Red Queen and would give it four out of five stars.

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