The thing about reading a particular genre is that at some point, you go blind. You’ve read all the stories, know all the plots, seen all the worlds. So, you grow tired; maybe you even try a new genre. But one thing’s for sure. Your love of that genre gets a smidgen weary. But this book. THIS book is one of those books that wipes the slate clean. It cleanses your palette like a sniff of coffee beans after too much perfume. It will give you back your love of YA dystopian fiction and boy will you love every second of it.
Amazon Book Blurb
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 Review: FIVE STARS
I picked up this book and threw it back down three times. THREE TIMES! Can you believe that? The problem was, I couldn’t get past the first page, I wasn’t hooked, or engaged or much of anything. Thank god I read Shelley’s review and realised the catastrophic error of my ways.
On the fourth reading, I got past the first page and ploughed on. By the time I was two or three chapters in, I was completely hooked. Like anchor off a boat, buried in the seabed hooked. I made myself resident on the couch and didn’t move.
The plot was relatively basic; poor girl meets rich boy. Poor girl discovers she’s special, gets swept into the rich world and ignites a rebellion. If it wasn’t for the quality of the characters and rich world building, I might have found myself feeling like I’d read this story before. But I didn’t. Because it was amazing.
There were two things that sold the plot to me:
The first was the way Aveyard wove the intricate and yet simple dystopian constructs into her plot. The dystopian world in some ways was driving the plot, and I love world driven plots, especially when they are dystopian.
The second was the plot twist. Honestly, I saw the character twist coming, but only a little bit before it happened. The subtle foreshadowing and tiny clues Aveyard gives are the perfect level to make sure we’re shocked but don’t feel cheated. Personally, I can’t wait to read the second book.
On occasions, YA female protagonists can grate on me. I much prefer the rebellious teen who refuses to fall for a boy than the lovesick teen who can’t stop thinking about them. Mare was the latter, so I loved her.
What I also liked was the fact she genuinely started to have feelings for both brothers. At first, I worried this might not play out in a believable way, but it did. Maybe too believable. One of my only criticisms was that when she flipped back to the first brother and made out like he was always the one, I wasn’t sure I believed that because Aveyard had made the relationship with the second brother entirely believable. But the ending, in particular, the way the relationship between them was left certainly took away any criticism I had.
The minor characters are all great and rounded and full of depth and also unique enough I remembered them – just. The royal system was intricate, and the number of royal houses made it hard to keep up, and although we don’t see characters from all the houses, there were times I couldn’t remember exactly who was who.
The bad guys were superb. I love a female villain, and this one was done well, perhaps edging a little close to the cliché line, but far enough away that I loved her. Evil, sadistic, manipulative. God, I love a manipulative villain.
I’ve covered the romance already, suffice to say, I loved how the book ended, it’s not your bog standard run off into the sunset, although I suspect it will end that way by the end of the trilogy.
The young love aspect was perfectly pitched, the descriptions, sensations, and emotions all captured me, and were beautifully written.
The world building was my favourite aspect of the book. I adore dystopian novels. I love how writers can envisage entirely new worlds that are based on the premise of our own, only twisted and distorted and royally messed up.
I always think the mark of a good dystopian writer, is one who can capture all that complexity and yet distill it in a way a reader would be able to tell another in two sentences. She does that, and it’s the first sentence in her blurb: “The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers.”
I loved the landscape, the descriptions and stark contrast between rich and poor, and of course, my favourite part of dystopian novels is the uprising and growing rebellion. I’ve read books recently that didn’t place enough emphasis on this aspect. For me, it’s important. If you’re writing dystopian fiction, then write dystopian fiction, the rebellion is critical. Aveyard NAILED it.
There’s that phrase, less is more. Well, less certainly is in this case. What a stunning cover. I love the white and silvers and then the stark contrast of red blood. And really, all that’s on the cover is a crown. Beautiful, symbolic, amazing.
Love. Love. Love it.
I read a lot of YA fantasy books, and most of them are the same story – but that’s good, it’s why I read them. But it does end up giving me a feeling of lethargy, and occasionally I get bored because a lot are clichéd or cheesy, some even cringe worthy. But this book was not one of them. Despite the first page, I adored it. So much so I immediately brought all her others. The intricacy with which she creates her dystopian world is divine. The details, the twists (although I saw it coming) were exquisitely done. The romance was refreshing to read, and I loved the protagonist. The Red Queen is one of those books that makes you fall in love with the genre all over again.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.