Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
By: Victoria Aveyard
Publication Date: February 10th, 2015
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.
So this is a book that I knew was super popular in the YA world, but that I’d just kind of missed (maybe because I assumed it was one of the dystopians that followed Hunger Games, maybe because it came out when I wasn’t in the country?). Anyways, for whatever reason, I didn’t end up reading it, until one of my friends lent her copy to me with a ‘you HAVE to read this’. And, dear readers, I did.
The first few chapters were largely what I expected–a Hunger Games-esque sequence of ‘grubby teenage girl who’s always getting in trouble/doing mild illegality’ plus her ‘handsome also grubby best guy friend who’s only kind of platonic’ and her ‘family living in hovel while the extravagant royals live in luxury’. Even to the point where Mare is yanked into the said luxurious world during a competition seemed familiar.
But, that being said, after the first few chapters the resemblance faded a bit. Mare is definitely in the mold of Katniss–again, ‘grubby, spunky teen girl who gets involved in a rebellion’–but the world she was inhabiting was very different. Mare, after revealing that she’s a ‘Red’ with powers, is forced to integrate into the world of the Silvers, including an engagement to the younger prince (despite an attraction to the older). She’s also determined to control her own destiny, even if that means taking control of her powers and learning the games of the court. The world quickly fell into the kind of hidden political shenanigans and plots that get my heart beating faster. Rebellions, terrorist attacks, maneuvering for the throne, assassinations, increasingly futile attempts to maintain control of the plebians…yesss, to all of them.
I also found myself mildly fascinated by the kind of world they were inhabiting–it didn’t really feel dystopian, per say, but there were hints that all of the luxury and knowledge was maybe built on a former civilization or something. And mixing the magic in with the practicalities of technology (Mare’s electricity-altering powers, for instance) was fascinating to me. I honestly want to keep going with the series partially because I wanted to figure out what was actually happening with the world Mare was inhabiting.
The part where I was somewhat confused was the love interests–plural, plural. Mare has two different princes (half-brothers) competing for her, plus the grubby almost love interest of her former life, and it felt a little…I dunno, maybe a bit much. Was it amusing? Absolutely? Did I feel like I was waltzing and different people kept popping up to partner me at different times and it was making me slightly dizzy? Also yes. And LAWD, the DRAMA that ensues. But I also can’t complain too much, because all of the slightly silly love drama shifts into a not-at-all-silly explosion of political intrigue towards the end, which kept me absolutely glued to the page.
I know I’m SUPER late to say this, but I did like Red Queen, and if you need a fantasy/dystopian kick, this is definitely a good one to go for.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.