February 6, 2015
Review: Red Queen
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Release date: February 10, 2015
This ARC was provided by Read Between the Lynes in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The YA world is a bit post-apocalyptic/dystopian fantasy weary. Each trilogy usually features the same formula. Ordinary girl with something that makes her a little extra special (her mind, her musical abilities, her thievery, her skill with a bow and arrow, etc.) is thrust into a whole new world. There's often a revolution. There are cute boys, usually more than one who seems to have an interest in the protagonist. There are plot twists galore, some of which never make sense, and there's a rebel group that the protagonist longs to help.
Unfortunately, Red Queen doesn't stray too far from this formula. I couldn't tell you if Norta and its surrounding kingdoms were in a completely made-up world or it was a highly futuristic version of our reality. However, Mare is certainly ordinary but oh-so-special. There was certainly a rebel group. I did enjoy them, but I also saw the sense of what Cal said at one point. When the rebel group is so small and weak, it can be hard to make any impact against such a powerful enemy as the Silvers. There was a lot of worldbuilding and info-dumping and not as much character development as I would've liked. I don't feel like I got to know any of the many characters very well, and there were few female characters present. I can name perhaps five that had major parts in more than one scene (in case you're wondering, they're Mare, the queen, Farley [yeah, don't ask me about her name], Walsh, and Evangeline). I really wanted to worry more for the characters, but since I hardly knew anything about them, there was no emotional connection. There's one character who gets a major plot twist, and I would've liked it to be a little less out of the blue. Even one little hint earlier on would've been nice. I didn't connect well with the romance and it was a bit eyeroll-inducing. (Of course the prince and Mare had a thing for each other.) Thankfully, it wasn't a big part of the plot.
There were also some plot holes I had to question. Why did no one notice Maven and Mare were gone from the theater for so long? How did these powers come to be, and why do only Silvers have them? What's up with all the weird names?
Finally, language and romance stayed very clean. Violence did as well, and I actually wanted things to be more gruesome.
The Verdict: I know everything I'm saying sounds awfully negative, considering my grade rating equals about 3 stars. I rated Red Queen that high because I stayed interested through the whole 382 pages of my ARC. I wanted to know what happened next, and darn it, I want to know what happens in the next two books. But to be honest, I'm not sure this book deserves all the hype it's gotten. I've read better fantasy/post-apocalyptic.