Title: Red Queen (#1 of a trilogy)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Original language: English
There are two sorts of people who coexist in this new world: Reds and Silvers. The former are humans who bleed red and have no special ability. They are slaves to the other class and have no way of escaping their fate. Silvers are a special breed of superhuman that have special powers and who rule over the lower class with an iron fist.
Mare Barrow is a 17 year old Red girl, sister to 3 conscripted brothers in the war led by Silvers. She herself is due to be sent to the front lines at any moment. She lives every day precariously, stealing from her fellow Reds and hating the Silvers for their existence. One day, after a chance encounter, she ends up working in the palace for the very people whom she loathes. Soon, Mare finds herself in the middle of a revolution and must find whom she can trust and whom she has to be wary of.
Mare is an interesting character who finds herself stuck between two very different worlds. She has no regards for the strict laws of her society, and willingly risks her neck everyday, picking pockets and insulting Silvers. She is profoundly attached to her older brothers, all gone to war, but often finds herself at odds with her parents and younger sister. Gisa, her sister, is everything that Mare isn’t. Pretty, intelligent, talented and most importantly, not on the conscription list. When misfortune befalls Gisa and her future is ruined (in part because of her sister), she doesn’t blame her sister, showing a great compassionate heart beneath her stony exterior. Let’s be real: compared to her sister, Mare is pretty selfish. She says she wants to free her people, but everything that she does is to her personal benefit. She plays around with the hearts of her suitors and she shamelessly uses her only Silver friends for her gain, costing them their lives. Mare brushes it off as being a ‘necessary evil’ for the revolution but actually, she’s just acting selfishly, trying to get freedom and the crown at the same time.
Anyone can betray anyone.
The Silver princes serve as allies/enemies to the cause, depending on Mare’s biased view of the world she inhabits. Maven, the youngest prince and betrothed to Mare, is definitely more interesting as a character than his brother is. His personality is well developed and his actions are believable. He is easy to get attached to, regardless of his actions. Cal, the eldest brother and main love interest is, by contrast, quite dull. He doesn’t have much of a personality (apart for his undying passion for warfare) and yet, he is constantly favoured over the other prince.
Flame and shadow. One cannot live without the other.
Love triangle (square)
The love interests were unnecessary and took away from the purpose of this book. Instead of a heroic, self-sacrificing story of rebellion and triumph of the classes, it turned into a cat and mouse game between the 3 main male characters and Mare. The author decided to use the love square as a plot device, having the characters use each other on the basis that the other party may or may not be in love them. Kilorn (Mare’s childhood friend) is completely useless to the story line and unnecessary. I have a hard time understanding why he is such a large part of Mare’s thoughts and actions. Maven clearly doesn’t stand a chance against his handsomer, stronger and braver brother. Cal, although the clear winner of this battle, is the one most underdeveloped and uninteresting. He falls flat instead of shinning and winning over the readers.
I will never make the mistake of loving you ever again.
There were quite a few obvious plot holes throughout the book. The most glaring one in my opinion, is the fact that Mare goes from being ‘ordinary’ to having superpowers and , overnight, she seemingly gains perfect control of these new powers without much difficulty. There’s no sense of hardship in learning to control her new ability, she seems to just suddenly be able to wield her powers without a second thought.
The most unlikely thing in my opinion is Mare’s ability to plan a whole revolution right under the nose of the Queen (who has the ability to read minds), and never once stops to think “hey, it’s really strange that the Queen isn’t doing anything to stop my plans”. The final battle is so contrived, it was almost painful to read through it. Mare, who has spent the whole book being protected by the princes, suddenly has this incredible power to her disposition, turning the tide of the battle and saving Cal’s life. Very unlikely. The resistance members seem to have survived death so many times, including the last ambush where Cal’s 5000 soldiers stormed their hiding place…and yet every one survived. This is completely unbelievable and shows exactly where this series is going. The plot twist was clear as day, and so is the future of the revolution.
Red Queen has a story line that I’ve seen a hundred times before and isn’t written in the best way. Even saying so, it was interesting enough to keep me captivated and have me turn a blind eye to the mistakes. I really enjoyed Maven’s character the most, his actions and evolution is what kept me going. Mare’s inner monologues were tedious and repetitive at times. There was no need to constantly reiterate the differences between Reds and Silvers, constantly contrasting and comparing ‘this to that’.
Ultimately, I will probably continue with this series since it was very fast to read through and entertaining enough to continue the trilogy.
Rise, red as the dawn.