Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

February 9th, 2015 kimbacaffeinate Review 105 Comments

9th Feb
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Published by: Hachette
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

I wanted to fall head over heels in love with Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. From its cover to the synopsis I was excited to begin this dystopian fantasy filled with magic and upheaval. In some respects, I completely adored Red Queen and in others, I am left hoping the next book in the Red Queen trilogy is stronger.

When I first began reading, I could not help but draw comparisons to other successful young adult novels. There are two social classes, the Reds who are the commoners make up the poor, oppressed working class ruled by the Silvers. The Silvers are gifted with abilities, own land and have wealth. They are ruled by a King, and entertain themselves with gladiator type arenas and squabble over land and power.

Our heroine Mare Barrow is seventeen, unemployed and living in the Stilts. She and her sister live with her mother and disabled father. Mare has three brothers who are all on the front lines in the never-ending war. For Reds, unless you are apprenticed and have a job at nineteen you are doomed to be enlisted in the Silver’s war for land, water and power. A sad future awaits Mare and she is ready to accept it. When her best friend loses his employment, she seeks a way to help him escape. This singular event changes Mare’s life and she soon finds herself within the walls of the King’s castle. Mare goes from servant to princess when it is discovered she has a power that could crumble the fine balance between classes. A rebel Red force is causing upheaval in the kingdom and the King and Queen seek to use Mare as a pawn to keep peace.

Mare is a strong character and I liked her, even when angered she kept her head. The King and Queen have two sons and a triangle emerged. It isn’t a strong one, so no worries as it is resolved.  Although another player outside the castle holds affection for Mare, which could complicate things. Romance was threaded throughout the tale and got in the way of the rebellion and court politics. It is the nature of young adult fantasy but persevere because the novel gets stronger.

I struggled in the beginning, in part because I have read some truly stellar and unique young adult fantasies. I could not help draw comparison. Red Queen in many ways offered nothing unique but Aveyard knows how to spin a tale and through twists and turns, she kept me engaged. My favorite thread is that of the rebels and I am anxious to see where all of the characters will align themselves. The powers and gifts the Silver’s possessed where interesting and threads displaying those skills held me spellbound, sadly, romance kept creeping in and pushed these cooler elements aside. Parts of Red Queen were epic and held me spellbound and others reminded me of the Selection and Hunger Games  without having the depth. The last section of the novel was the strongest.The pace picked up, the action became intense and the promise of things to come confirmed that I will continue this trilogy.

About Victoria Aveyard

After growing up in small town Massachusetts, Victoria attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She graduated with a BFA in Screenwriting, which is exactly the degree being sought after in a recession. She tries her best to combine her love of history, explosions, and butt-kicking heroines in her writing. Her hobbies include the impossible task of predicting what happens next in A Song of Ice and Fire, road trips, and burning through Netflix.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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105 Responses to “Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard”

  1. Melliane

    I’m glad that despite a difficult start you had a good time with the book. I haven’t read it but I was really curious about it! It’s always a bit difficult when yous tart making comparisons with other novels… thanks for the review!
    Melliane recently posted…Kensington’s Ultimate Hero #1My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I agree, I was nervous but it slowly came into its own and the last portion has me curious

  2. Christy

    Hm. Yeah, the whole classes divided into color made me think of that one book we love so much. 😀 Maybe RQ just needed to pick up steam and will be on a roll in the next two. I’m pretty sure I’ll still read this, but I’m going to wait until after the 2nd book is out.
    Christy recently posted…Rebound by Noelle AugustMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Right, I didn’t even dare speak its name since it set the bar so high. I was impressed towards the end, fingers crossed on book two

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It does get stronger and the last bit has me excited to see how it will develop

  3. Red Iza

    At least, it got a lot more gripping near the end, so there’s a good chance next book will be better ? Thanks for sharing, I love your well-argumented review 🙂
    Red Iza recently posted…The sunday post #8My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am glad that I read it Kate. The last 1/4 of the book is what I want to see. I am hoping book two delivers.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      If the next book continues with the intensity of the last part of Red Queen I will be very happy

  4. Ramona

    Hm, interesting, and not at all what I was expecting from your review… The division by color, with the reds at the bottom of the social pyramid reminds of Red Rising, obviously.
    Ramona recently posted…Zen Monday: Love LettersMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I couldn’t help but draw comparison and Red Rising has placed the bar very high.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes, it is like it found its footing and wow. I wish the whole book felt like the last 1/3

  5. Jenny

    Glad you enjoyed this for the most part Kim! I agree, the last third or so was the strongest part and left me holding this book in a death grip while wishing for a few more pages:) The romance didn’t bother me, I enjoyed how it played out, but this is definitely a romance that’s tricky and inspiring a lot of conflicting opinions:) Gorgeous review as always!
    Jenny recently posted…Seeker Blog Tour: Interview + GiveawayMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I could have skipped the romance, but I am curious to see if one develops in the next

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Ali, I am hoping book two reads more like the ending did.

  6. Ann Noser

    Oh dear. I wanted you to like this, so I could justify purchasing it. Now I will wait…
    But, don’t worry, I’ve PLENTY to read!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      LOL, hold off till after reviews of book two. If you want a good YA fantasy try Red Rising.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is worth the read, and the ending has me excited at the possibilities for book two

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks for the feedback Debbie, it is always harder to convey why it wasn’t a complete hit for me

  7. Donna C

    I’m a fan of both The Selection series and The Hunger Games, so I think I’ll probably give this one a whirl. It just may not be at the top of my tbr pile, maybe I’ll even wait until the next book comes out.
    Donna C recently posted…Review: The Rosie EffectMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope you love it, stay with it as it doesn’t hold up against those books until the last 1/3..but it is worth the read

  8. Katherine

    This is definitely a genre with some stiff competition but it sounds like after a rough start you ultimately enjoyed it even if it wasn’t as great as some of the others. If I see this at the library I’ll probably pick it up but I don’t think it’s one I’ll rush out to get.
    Katherine recently posted…20 Questions in the LibraryMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The ending was brilliant, but yes it is hard when you’ve read novels that blew your mind in the same genre

  9. Rita

    Ah, great review. I’ve read some others and still wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but I was hoping to pick it up. Not to put you on the spot, but could you name even just one YA fantasy that was really good (you said this had stiff competition from other stellar ones)? Thanks for a great post.
    Rita recently posted…2 10-Second ReviewsMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      No problem – The Red Rising Trilogy and Bone Season trilogy are brilliant.

  10. Kim { Book Swoon }

    I’m glad you enjoyed this for the most part, especially the twist and turns that keeps you turning the pages. The end was intense for sure. I think I enjoyed the romance a bit more, and hope to see more of him in the next installment. The enhanced superpowers were one of my favorite aspects.
    Lovely review as always! 🙂
    Kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Young Adult Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria AveyardMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yep, I loved the powers, politics and court the most I am anxious to see how book two delivers.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think it was worth it in the end, and look forward to the next installment

  11. sherry fundin

    I won this book and have heard similar things said about it. It is not necessary for me a have a unique storyline, but I am ecstatic when I find one. It is all about the writing, can the author grab me and keep me involved. I find with series, trilogies…the first book can be the weakest. Sometimes it has to take the time and set the stage for the future books. That is one of my biggest pet peeves – series, trilogies…who knows if I will ever read any of the future books, unless it is an author that follows me too. They just slip through the cracks. Sooooooo many books and soooooooo little time. LOL
    sherry fundin recently posted…Superheroes – London Belongs to the Alchemist by Stephen HenningMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Her writing and the plot really strength about 1/3 through and had the book been the same throughout it would have blown my mind..it is a worth read, and the possibilities for the next book excite me

  12. Heidi

    We are all reviewing this one today, and all of us are having the same issue with the romance. I liked the twists and turns, but didn’t like as you said the romance it just never was believable and the way Mare was manipulated, still overall I enjoyed it.
    Heidi recently posted…Review: Red Queen by Victoria AveyardMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      OMG..yes I have been through my feed and giggled, we should have planned a pajama party and talked about it online somewhere..LOL She was a very young heroine, I am really hoping that she learned something in this novel and that we see growth when she comes back in the second. She isn’t dumb, just immature.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      That is always tough when your TBR pile is huge. This first is a library book for sure or take a wait and look approach for book two. I really loved the last section of the book.

  13. Stormi

    I am currently reading this and the reference that pops out to me is Pawn,.it reminds me a bit to much of Pawn. I haven’t read Selection and wasn’t a fan of Hunger games so I hope it doesn’t seem to much like that as I go on..I am about 25% in. It’s okay but I am not being wowed. 🙁
    Stormi recently posted…Murder at the Reinhart|Part 1: Lynn CahoonMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I haven’t read Pawn, but I kept comparing it to some awesome releases of late. The last 1/3 really shines, keep reading. I almost did a DNF on this and stuck with it because everyone was raving about it.

  14. Michelle

    I have this book on my Kindle and the reviews are just so mixed, I was not a fan of hungers games and the mention of it scares me a little, might just move this book down a little further on the list of books to read but I do want to give it a try.

    Great Review Kim!
    Michelle recently posted…Just a Random Post ~ Page NumbersMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The similarities aren’t that great, my struggle with the first half was comparing to exceptional books in the genre. However the last one third drove this from a 2 to 3.5 for me.

  15. Amir

    I do love the cover, so simple yet powerful. Sometimes you just can’t help but compare a debut to a similar series/book, I do that too..especially if the themes are similar. although you ended up having so-so feelings about this, I’m kind of glad that the last part is the best. Since it’s the 1st book in the series, I’m much more forgiving. I will probably read this, I just won’t be running to get a copy. Awesome review Kimba!
    Amir recently posted…Review: The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee HieberMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think it is worth the read and the potential is there just don’t compare it to the works of Pierce Brown and others 🙂

  16. Vickie

    Just by looking at the cover, it looks exciting! It is hard not to compare books to each other. I do this all the time I have put it in my too be read pile.

  17. Karen Blue

    I have read so many reviews for this book. I am dying to read this. Not just for the hype, but the synopsis really grabbed my attention. I am glad it picked up for. I doubt I have read enough YA to make those comparisons. It will probably be really fresh for me. Thanks for the great review!
    Karen Blue recently posted…SINGLE, CAREFREE, MELLOW: Stories by Katherine HeinyMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Fresh is good, and hold on because the last part is the strongest and well worth it

  18. Bookworm Brandee

    Ahh, I was hoping this one would have more oomph! I’m glad you still enjoyed it even if it wasn’t quite as good as some other YA fantasy stories. I will probably still check our Red Queen since I am intrigued with Mare’s power. But it won’t be as high on in priority.
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…#2015HW Review ~ Bully ~ Penelope DouglasMy Profile

  19. Alreem

    my copy of this book coming on the mail,, really can’t wait to put my hand on it and start reading it 🙂 I mean the idea of this book so simple yet I feel it will turn out to be more 🙂 glad to seee you enjoyed this book 😀
    Alreem recently posted…IN MY MAIL-BOX[14]My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope you love it..the twists and turns kept me flipping the pages in the last section

  20. Berls

    Okay, not the amazing review I wanted but I’m glad you did like it in the end. The similarities can easily make things a bit boring and after all the excitement from that cover and synopsis, anticlimactic. All the reviews I’ve read so far seem to agree, okay but not amazing. Great review Kimba!
    Berls recently posted…Murder at the Reinhart | Part 1 by Lea WaitMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is worth the read, particularly the last section and the possibilities for book two have me stoked

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I have Half-Bad to read. This was good Loupe, just tough on Pierce Brown fans..it is hard to hold a candle to his brilliance

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I totally still recommend it, just keep reading because it is worth it

  21. Faye

    Ohhh, we are book twinsies on this one. Like you, I loved parts of Red Queen (the writing, the powers, Mare’s stubbornness and determination) and loathed parts of it (the love triangle pissed me off a bit, the world-building is kinda sketchy still, the comparisons to Red Rising, and the 180 degree character change of one of the peeps subsequently turning him into a one-dimensional villain…) I’m really hoping it will get better in the second book, and I have no doubt about that because the potential is really strong!
    Faye recently posted…Random Things in Motion #12: If you had the power to save the world, would you take that responsibility?My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes, yes. yes Faye. After reading Red Rising it has set the standard very high. The last section is how book two needs to be..so much potential!

  22. Micheline

    Lovely review^^ People seem to be unanimous in feeling that this book was enjoyable, but not wholly original. I think the likelihood of my enjoyment of this one will depend on my mood when I crack open my copy. Either I’ll notice similarities to other books and it’ll bug me or I’ll go with the flow and (hopefully) have a blast with it. The character and magical system alone seem worth checking out to me…but it’s a shame it didn’t come off more unique. I do wish you would have loved this one more, but I’m glad you’ll be continuing with the series 🙂
    Micheline recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday *109*My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      When you read it stick with it, because the last part is strong and what I am hoping book two will look like.

  23. Olivia

    Hmm, this was originally my most anticipated read of 2015 but that got traded out for a few others, and I have been seeing mediocre reviews so not sure anymore. But I will definitely still be trying it! I know I will end up comparing it to others like it as well, but I suppose that can’t be helped. I do hope the next one is stronger for you as well :/
    Olivia recently posted…City Center (Review & Giveaway!)My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I know, and that cover is so awesome. I will say I am glad that I read it and the last section hints at greatness.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed and I kept comparing it to some stellar reads like Red Rising..but I am excited to see what book two brings.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I totally recommend it since it is the first, and the ending was strong

  24. Sharon

    I’ve seen this book around so much and a lot of love for it obviously, and so I was curious to read your review. I’m glad that it picked up towards the end and has kept you wanting to continue with the series. Great review.
    Sharon recently posted…Feature Friday: The Darkling LordMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It has some amazing potential and I am looking forward to the next installment.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      If I had to choose I would have read this before..and perhaps enjoyed it more. Having said that the last 1/3 was strong and has me hopeful for book two

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I adore the cover and despite not totally delivering that Wow factor, I did enjoy it

  25. Mandy

    Awwww I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love Red Queen. I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. I actually loved the book but I think it’s because I love the dystopian concept and it felt very The Selection & Pawn which are both series I enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.
    Mandy recently posted…Book Blitz: Recklessly HisMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The last 1/3 rocked for me. I did not read Pawn, but have heard from others it is similar. I love dystopian novels..have you read Red Rising and Golden Son by Pierce Brown..mind- blowing good!

  26. Tressa

    At least it was worth continuing the series. I’m going to give it a try since I love the genre, but I have heard enough negative things that I’m going to try to go in with lower expectations. I think I haven’t started it yet because I’m thinking I might be disappointed. We’ll see.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think the last 25% make it worth the read, and going in with low expectations should help.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I know that cover is gorgeous and despite some issues it was worth the read, I really am curious to see where it goes.