Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

February 9th, 2015 Kimberly Review 105 Comments

9th Feb
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

105 Responses to “Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard”

  1. Jennifer

    I am completely in love with the cover of this book, and despite the mixed reviews, it does sound like something I would love, so I’m buying it! Can’t decide if I want the Kindle version or hardback. I mean, that cover!

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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!

  4. Mariana

    I loved the cover and put this book on the wishlist a long time ago, but the reviews were off, nobody really said anything importart about the plot, or pace. I liked your review and it looks like the kind of book for me.

  5. Diamond

    great review! I have heard a lot about this book 😀 I can’t wait to read it, but your’e right with all the excellent YA fantasy it is a lot to compete against! It takes a lot to stand out these days.. although that cover doesn’t hurt LOL

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  6. Cyn

    Hmm, I’ve been hearing that the story isn’t super original, but I think the books that it’s been compared to (ie. The Red Rising, The Selection) I haven’t read yet, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it! Glad to hear you ended up enjoying it still. Great review, Kim!

    • 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

  7. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  8. Benish K

    I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about the Red Queen, I really do want to like it as well – your review seems spot on though, I’m hoping to read it today! Thanks for a lovely review 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  9. JennRenee

    A book with lots of turns always keeps me interested and engaged. Its hard to find a good book that isn’t too predictable. I can’t wait to read thisone.

  10. 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 :/

    • 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.

  11. 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 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  12. 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!

    • 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 much potential!

  13. kara-karina

    You are not the only one with such contradictory feelings about this book, Kimba! I think I’ll still read it but I won’t be in a rush to do so 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  14. Lupdilup

    I was in love with that cover from the moment I saw it few months back, this was supposed to be my next listen, but I decided to go with Half Bad (I just started) A stellar performance can move the story up a notch, but I don’t know the narrator 🙁 Will see, it comes out tomorrow.
    Thanks Kimba.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  15. Paij Slater

    I am sorry it was not all it was cracked up to be for you. I am glad you still enjoyed it a little :). I bought it. I couldn’t resist. That cover is fan freaking tastic!

  16. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  17. 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 😀

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  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.

  19. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

    • 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 🙂

  22. 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!

    • 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.

  23. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I didn’t love this one but I didn’t hate it either. I can deal with a series (trilogy) that has a shaky start as long as it gets stronger as it goes along. It does have that potential because of that ending. I agree with you.

  24. Leeanna

    I was back and forth on this myself. I gave it 3 stars, but as I wrote my review, I kept finding more things that didn’t work for me. But like you, I thought the ending was the strongest point.

  25. 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. 🙁

    • 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.

  26. Candace

    I’ve seen quite a few reviews for this and have remained on the fence. I think because there are so many other WOW books that I really want to read I’ll skip this one for now. Your review, funny enough, has me the most curious about this one. You described it to where I can imagine it a little better.

    • 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.

  27. 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.

    • 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.

  28. 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

    • 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 is a worth read, and the possibilities for the next book excite me

  29. Sarah

    I’m glad you enjoyed this for the most part. I’ve had my eye on this one for quite awhile. Sometimes uniqueness isn’t something I *need* to enjoy a novel, but it sure is better when it doesn’t remind me of other books. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  30. 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! 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  31. Michelle

    I’ve been hearing much of the same from other reviewers I trust. I am glad you enjoyed it though, and here’s hoping to a strong sequel! I’ll probably wait until my library gets a copy and then try it out.

  32. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  33. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  34. 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.

    • 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

  35. Debbie Haupt

    Kim thanks for this review. I’ve seen other reviews but yours really goes to the heart of the matter and explains the why’s
    Happy Monday

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  36. Sophia Rose

    Nice rundown! I’ve seen this one and read a few reviews, but they were vague enough that I didn’t have a good grasp- your review gave what I needed. Thanks for the heads up to be patient b/c the end gets good.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  37. tonyalee

    I’m with you – I enjoyed it but was disappointed as well. I am curious about the sequel though, especially after that ending!

  38. 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.

  39. kindlemom1

    It was hard not to compare this to..others but I did still like it. Sorry you didn’t love it but I am so glad you gave it a try and liked it well enough to maybe continue the story. 😉

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  40. Nick

    I’m sad you didn’t enjoy it more, but I’m glad the book started to pick up for you towards the end. Those twists were amazing and they definitely kept me reading the book as well.
    Great review, Kim!

  41. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  42. Madiha

    I heard it has A LOT of twists at the end that you don’t see coming, and that’s something I’m really excited about! I can’t wait for this to come to Indian stores so I can get my hands on it. The parallel between other novels seems inevitable, I guess, but as always, lovely review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  43. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  44. Cynthia

    I have heard mixed reviews of this one, mainly because like you said the author seems to combine elements of other popular dystopian novels. I am still very excited to read this one.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  45. Katie

    It sucks that you didn’t enjoy this book as much as you were hoping to, I’ve seen so many raving reviews for it. Now I know to many take them with a pinch of salt. Thanks for the great review I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel about this one.

    • 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.

  46. 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 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  47. 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.

    • 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

  48. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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