by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy
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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.