Title: Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Harper Teen
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal. (Source: Goodreads)
Mare Barrow is a Red, she lives her life knowing she will be conscripted to the army just as her brothers, and father, were before her. On day she meets a mysterious man who changes all of that. Cal gets her a job at the palace of the Silversm the leaders of their world who have superhuman abilities. There she realizes she’s more than Red, but not Silver. She also has a power and because of this her life will be forever changed. She is forced to play the role of lost princess and marry one of the princes. All the while a Red rebellion grows around her and pulls her in. The game she’s playing is dangerous and beyond her control, who can she trust?
I loved this book! I thought it was really interesting and well written. There were a lot of twists and turns that surprised me. This book warns you not to trust anyone, and I still kept falling for everyone and being deceived. I found the plot super interesting and the characters fantastic. I really wasn’t that excited going into the book but by the end, and now as I write this review, I’m super into it and really excited for future books.
This book is a book that will definitely polarize people. There’s a really good reason for that. The book is similar to a number of other books. It has elements from books like Red Rising, The Selection, The Hunger Games, and X-Men. The biggest similarities being with Red Rising and The Selection. For a lot of people that will make this book disappointing. For me it wasn’t really an issue, I haven’t read any of those books. I know this is a hugely unique idea, it’s pretty similar to one of the major sci-fi and fantasy plots that has existed for over 100 years, so I wasn’t expecting anything super new. I read the description on the jacket and thought “that sounds like Red Rising for teens, cool!” The thing is, it also sounds a lot like classic films, like Metropolis, which deal with this major class divide and essential enslavement of the lower class. It didn’t surprise me that this book was similar to others, I went into with the expectation that it would be. What made this book great to me was that it took this plot line, or perhaps several plotlines, tied them together and made them interesting and good.
Let’s talk plot now. The book follows a Red girl named Mare who becomes the fake lost princess Mareena. She is betrothed to Maven the younger prince who will not become king. She has the power to control lightning (Some of the best action is the Silver fights where they display their abilities, especially because some of them are really cool – like the people who can bend light and make themselves invisible.). Through Mare we get to see both sides of the divide. We see the squalor that Reds live in and learn about the rebellion from the rebels point of view. We also experience the grandeur of the Silver lifestyle and see the kind of tactical side of the army as well. Mare’s main concern in everything is protecting her family, which means that when she is forced to become the princess all she asks in return is that her brothers and friend, Kilorn, be removed from the army. I think this is Mare’s best quality, she is loyal and trusting. It isn’t always a great quality for her, as it often comes back to bite her, but it is her strongest and best quality. While she’s training to be a fake princess, Mare is also assisting a Red rebellion, whose goal is to overthrow the Silver rulers and free the Red people.
With these two plotlines running parallel, there’s an element of deceit in this book that really makes the characters difficult to truly know. The book warns you to not trust anyone. The trouble is that everyone seems so trustworthy and Mare is so trusting you can’t help but to trust everyone and kind of love everyone. Mare herself isn’t really the most trustworthy person even. She will use anyone and everyone to protect her family. I think the main problem with Mare, as a character, is that you don’t see a lot of development in her from the beginning of the book to the end. Cal, the older prince, seems really easy to trust. He’s so nice to Mare it makes your heart melt a little. But he’s also strong, a military man, who has political goals and crown to protect. Maven, Mare’s betrothed, seems so sweet too. He cares for the Red people and wants to change the world, but his jealousy of his brother is extreme and somewhat violent. There is no one in the Silver world who Mare can really, truly trust. And the Red rebels are hard to trust as well. They seems unaffected by the human cost of their rebellion – something Mare can’t agree with. Aveyard creates a really complex cast of characters, all of whom have these deep secrets. She creates some really amazing betrayals which will surprise you. I knew they were coming but each time I was still so hurt by it I could hardly believe it had happened.
There is a romance plot to a certain extent in this book, but it really isn’t as important as the rest of the action. There are essentially 3 romantic interests. The first is Kilorn, Mare’s childhood friend. This is the person she always saw herself marrying, simply because she doesn’t have much choice as a Red. This isn’t a relationship I really bought into, because I wasn’t a huge fan of Kilorn. The second is Cal, the oldest prince. Mare meets him thinking he isn’t a Silver, which I think really helps to develop feelings between them because that makes them equals. He’s actually engaged to Evangeline (who is super scary) but still has feelings for Mare. Finally there’s Maven, who Mare is betrothed to. He’s sort of sweet and cute. I totally bought into this romance. I can’t say more for fear of spoilers, but just know…these romances mean little to nothing to Mare as she will use anyone to save her family.
I have one little complaint about this book. To me it felt like not a lot had changed from beginning to end. Yes, lots happened, but it seems like…things stayed about the same. This is mainly because Mare doesn’t develop much from beginning to end. She’s about the same at all times honestly, which is disappointing. I hope that in the future books Aveyard is able to develop Mare’s character a little more because that would certainly help to make the plot seem less static.
Overall I really liked this book, loved it a little even. The betrayals and twists were so well written they definitely hurt me a lot – which is excellent on Aveyard’s part as that’s the goal. The plot was well written and formed, with complex characters. I’m definitely excited for more.