“Many things led to this day, for all of us. A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.”
I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO EXPRESS IN WORDS HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS BOOK. To think I almost didn’t pick it up
scares terrifies me. In fact, I passed Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard at Half Price Books and Barnes and Nobles for several months and always ignored it. Why? Because I thought I hated fantasy novels…silly, stupid Grace. It wasn’t until last week, when I was browsing at Half Price Books for a new book to read that I saw this for the gazillionth time and thought, “well, what have I got to lose?” I lost NOTHING and gained EVERYTHING. In fact, now I’m on a YA fantasy kick, so keep your eye out for a lot more YA Fantasy reviews in the coming weeks. I’m loving every second of this fantastic ride I’m now on. Red Queen was a brilliant beginning to that journey, and it set the bar very high.
“In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.”
Okay…it’s pretty much impossible to sum up this incredibly intricate plot line, but I’ll do my best while still avoiding spoilers. Mare Barrow lives in a world where people are separated by blood type. Reds are the lowly peasants, while Silvers, who possesses all kinds of powers, rule over them. By pure dumb luck, it is discovered that Mare has Red blood, but Silver abilities. In order to hide this, the Silver king forces her to masquerade as a long lost Silver princess, and betroths her to one of his sons. As she is forced into this new world of royalty, a rebellious force of Reds is rising, The Scarlet Guard, and they recruit Mare to help them infiltrate the Silver leaders. “Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince- and Mare against her own heart.” Brilliant. This story was just pure brilliance. And that starts with the heroine.
“I will never submit again. I will never stop fighting.”
Mare. Barrow. Is. A. BADASS. I loved her character so much. There seems to be a growing trend of strong, independent, and incredible female heroines in YA literature, and it gives me a lot of hope. Mare has joined a special club that includes Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior, Ruby Daly, Clary Fray, and so many others. She not only has endured years of struggling to survive, she is now continuing to show grace under pressure as she is thrown into an incredibly hostile environment, where one wrong move could cost her her life. Add on her ability to wield electricity as weapon, and you’ve got one badass heroine. Mare’s uniqueness was what made the book so fascinating. We still don’t know why her blood is different, and how she possess the abilities she does. We also know there are others like her out there, but they have yet to be found. Moving forward, in Glass Sword, I’m sure more will be revealed.
“This world is Silver, but it is also gray. There is no black-and-white.”
From the outside looking in, it would seem the world of Red Queen is black-and-white…or rather Red-and-Silver. However, on the inside it becomes clear it as actually a very complicated world. This begins with the revelation that Mare, a Red, possesses Silver abilities. From there, the lines continue to blue, and Mare herself realizes that Silvers have a hierarchy within a hierarchy. At the same time she’s realizing this, she’s also realizing they are much weaker than they appear at first glance. It’s a poignant message that even those at the top possess fatal flaws, and crippling weaknesses.
“I told you to hide your heart once. You should have listened.”
The romance aspect of this book is what really threw me off. At the beginning, I thought it would be the tale of the girl whisked away to the castle, leaving the local boy (Kilorn) at home, even though he was her true love. Then she arrived at the castle, and it seemed that instead her two love interests would be the two princes-Maven and Cal-and Kilorn was simply a friend. By the end of the book, I was left wondering if there were any romantic interests for her at all. This may frustrate some, but I find it intriguing. So often, it is clear who the heroine will end up with, and who is her ally, however that’s simply not the case is Red Queen. It follows the theme of “Anybody can betray anybody”…Mare has no clear romantic interest, since she can’t really trust anybody at this point. Personally, I ship her and Cal. Why? Because he’s the only one I felt she had any real chemistry with. Yes, Avegard tried to emphasize a love triangle involving Maven, but I never felt any sparks there. I never felt that there was a true connection between Mare and Maven. I felt she related to Cal more, and his strength matched hers. Their relationship was much more potent. Mare often pointed out that Evangeline was more regal and poised than she, and that made her a better match for Cal. However, Mare possessed Cal’s passion for causes, and strength under fire, as well as steely determination. I feel they would be an indestructible duo. That is the ship I will go down with (I SHIP IT SO HARD). But at this point I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen, and it gets me so excited for the second book.
There is one complaint that seems to be common among reviewers. There were so so SO many elements of other popular YA novels in this book. However, instead of viewing this as a negative, I thought it was kind of cool. It’s like having a few of of your favorite series wrapped into one. Plus, I believe as the Red Queen trilogy progresses, it will continue to build on it’s own unique qualities, and not lean so strongly towards a resemblance of other YA novels. See spoiler section at the bottom of the post to see what I’m specifically talking about.
Even if you’re not a fan of YA fantasy, or think that genre just isn’t for you (just like I thought), do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Red Queen. You will not regret it. The plot line is fast-paced and captivating; I finished it in one sitting. The heroine is a badass, and it’s cool to watch her grow into her power. There’s a hint of romance, which always keeps you on your toes. For me, this book is a 5/5 stars. I absolutely cannot wait for Glass Sword (February 2016…WHY SO FAR AWAY).
*****THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU’VE READ RED QUEEN******
There were so so SO many elements of other popular YA novels in this book. Mare was a “symbol of the rebellion”, much like Katniss. She was also being manipulated by the leader of the country, as Katniss was. The relating of the revolution to fire brought to mind Katniss’s “If we burn, you burn with us” quote. The there’s the whole issues of “the Ruins” not actually being full of toxic radiation, and instead housing a city of sorts for the rebels. Ummm…District 13. Am I right? Hunger Games wasn’t the only thing this book made subtle references to though. Mare is “different” in that she is both Red and Silver. Ring a bell? Perhaps…Divergent? Tris was both Dauntless and Abnegation. She also finds out she isn’t the only Divergent, and makes it her mission to save the others like her. Mare does the same thing; she looks up the names of others who possess her strange trait and goes looking for them.