Today I’ll be reviewing Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. After all the hype around this book, I have to say it was not as amazing as I thought it would be, but it was still a great read!
A fast-paced yet easy to read, Red Queen is a true YA novel with the flair of Sarah J. Maas and a taste of the politics like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Aveyard packed a lot into this first novel: court life, world building, politics, superpowers, racism (pretty much) and love interests. What more could you want from a novel?
The novel is based on a dystopian society where people are divided by blood, Silver and Red, elites and peasants. I loved this concept and Aveyard pulled it off really well, making it the basis of all politics and uprisings. It reminded me of Divergent (another series I love). There’s something about dystopian novels that make me feel so giddy.
Our main character is Mare Barrow, a Red girl who pickpockets to contribute to the family. A year away from being conscripted to a losing war, Mare is desperate to get out with her friend, Kilhorn. I loved Mare in the first few chapters due to her determination to get Kilhorn out to avoid on conscription where, if avoided, the penalty is death. If that ain’t true friendship, I don’t know what is.
This event leads Mare to a position in the Silver Palace where she discovers her Silver-like abilities after nearly being killed at the Queenstrial, and one of the rarest: lightning. Our little lightning girl goes from pauper to princess overnight (literally) with a sword delicately hanging above her head. One wrong move, one misstep and she would be dead. While this trope of pauper to princess and suddenly having magical powers in a moment of crisis is fun and all, I found it quite cliche in this novel. Aveyard wrote it well, but I still found it to be slightly unbelievable until further in the book when it is fleshed out and explained to an extent. It was almost comical the way Mare shot lightning from her hands like it was the most natural thing to do. But then again, what good is magic unless it surprises you?
The whole plot line with Mare becoming a long-lost princess was pretty cool. Aveyard definitely expresses Mare’s emotions clearly throughout her time masquerading as a princess. Just the small details like using makeup to cover her blush or making sure she didn’t cut and reveal herself to the court was a great aspect of the scheme.
Now, our two other main characters are Cal and Maven, brothers, princes, and like all brothers: rivals. We stumble across Cal outside a tavern in the Stilts after Mare tries to pickpocket him. Causally dressed in good clothing and loose with money, why not try to pick up some change to feed the family? I liked how Aveyard developed the world within the Silver Palace, giving them their ow issues and sorrows that were different from the Reds but still had an impact. I was immediately taken by his charisma, but in the situation in which Mare finds herself in with Maven, I found I liked his character… UNTIL THAT MOMENT WHEN IT ALL WENT TO HELL! The ultimate betrayal. Like Hans to Anna in Frozen. Ugh. Why?
The politics within the novel were explained in Mare’s simplified way of seeing the world as a Red girl. The rise of the Scarlet Guard as the start of a revolution had me eager for something drastic to happen and it did, which Aveyard pulled off! I also liked her lack of understanding at some points because, like a lot of us, politics is somewhat confusing, especially in the Silver Palace where Mare has no idea how the game works. The two worlds within one are out of balance and I’m a sucker for a heroine who wants to change it all.
Overall, this book was a really nice read and the series has a lot of potential to be awesome. I’m hoping to pick up Glass Sword at some point this month to continue the series.
3/5 stars from this lady!
Also, if you follow Victoria Aveyard on Twitter, she’s hilarious.