Book Reviews

Red Queen (Red Queen series #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Publication Date: February 10, 2015

Book Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

Well, I am very late to the Red Queen party and was really excited to join the hype!  Unfortunately, the hype didn’t live up to my expectations.

Praise for Red Queen

  1. Plot twist: I’m going to keep this one vague so I don’t totally ruin the book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet and plans to.  There’s a massive plot twist at the end of the book that maybe I should’ve seen coming, but I just didn’t.  It was the redeeming quality of this book in my personal opinion, and the reason that I may tackle the second book in this series.

Opportunities for Improvement

  1. Annoying characters:
    Mare Barrow
    should be the sympathetic character in this book.  She’s lived in poverty her entire life, tries her best to take care of her family and friends through whatever means necessary (namely stealing), and has grown up in her younger sister’s shadow.  All things that, to some extent or another should make her more realistic and more relatable, don’t.  I didn’t feel any sympathy for her.  In fact, at times I was downright annoyed with her behavior.  She recklessly joins up with the Scarlet Guard, a rebel group fighting for equality amongst redbloods and whitebloods.  While carrying out one of their attacks, she ends up implicating both her tutor, Julian, and her favorite guard, Lucas, who are executed for their involvement.  Not to mention her entire family will be killed if she is found out.  Mare spends a good amount of time feeling bad about the blood on her hands from this involvement in the Scarlet Guard, which just got old.  I wanted to scream: “You are making your own decisions.  Either own up to it and live with it, or make a different decision.”  Also, I never quite understood why she has three guys falling all over her?  She clearly states in the book that she’s not all that pretty, and she doesn’t seem to be particularly charming either?  Which is fine.  I don’t think girls need to be or should be stereotypically charming or pretty in every novel, but I also don’t think they need every guy they pass to be swooning over them within pages.
    Prince Cal was the most cliché character in the whole novel.  He’s the too perfect crown prince.  He met Mare when he was sneaking around town dressed up as a servant to get to know his subjects better like any good future king should.  Duh.  He’s nearly unbeatable in a fight, incredibly intelligent, has a bit of a wild side (and enjoys sneaking out of the castle to ride his motorcycle), has impeccable manners, is very handsome, is duty-bound to his kingdom and his people, and is kind in a way that no one else in his family is (like where did he learn to be that kind?!?).  In short, he’s too perfect and too committed to his father’s kingdom.  Which was annoying.
    Prince Maven is the jealous younger brother to Cal.  He’s grown up in the shadow of his too perfect older brother and his jealously leads him to make more than one rash decision.  Oddly enough, as you’ll see if you read the book, he was one of the only characters that was somewhat believable.
    Kilorn, Mare’s childhood friend from the Stilts, is always getting into trouble and expecting Mare to save him.  Mare’s spent her entire life looking out for and protecting him, and it doesn’t stop when she moves into the castle.  He continues to put himself in dangerous situations knowing that Mare will bail him out when he most needs it.  In his defense, as an orphan he doesn’t have a family that will be executed if he is caught as a member of the Scarlet Guard, BUT he also doesn’t give any thought to how his involvement will affect Mare even though she has spent her entire life making sacrifices for him.  Also, he was incredibly judgmental when he found out about Mare’s ability which is NOT okay.
    Everyone else just kind of fell flat: Mere’s family, the evil step-Queen, the King …
  2. Cliché plot: Let me just make a list of all of the cliché aspects of this novel: (1) a commoner who suddenly finds herself betrothed to a prince, (2) different classes of people some of whom are treated very poorly and are tired of it, (3) a too perfect prince, (4) an evil King/Queen, (5) a younger brother who lives in his older brother’s shadow, (6) a conniving court … need I go on?

Other Comments: I didn’t love the writing style of this novel.  It wasn’t bad writing which is why I didn’t include this in the “Opportunities for Improvement” section.  I do think the blunt, simple, non-flowery writing reflected Mare’s perspective given her lackluster childhood in the Stilt’s well; however, I never got so lost in the words and the story that I forgot that I was reading a book, and the threadbare descriptions didn’t make me want to visit the places she was describing.

Has anyone read the later books in the Red Queen series?  Is it worth tackling the next one if I didn’t find this one all that compelling?



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