Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: YA Science Fiction-Fantasy
Publication Date: February 2015

Goodreads' summary:

Cover of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard on Amber, the Blonde WriterThis 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:

I heard about this novel when it first released last February, but reading the summary it did sound closer to a dystopian than a fantasy so I waited until after my dystopian break to pick it up.

This novel was well-written. Mare's voice is strong, linking more with her emotional gut than her logical ideas, which I appreciated. She shows feelings for three guys, and yet, she refrains from falling for each one like a lovesick school girl because she keeps finding reasons to either not trust them or distance herself from them for her safety. The fact that her emotions were more tied to the politics and her family than the cute boys is a welcome change.

Don't get me wrong: the romance is twisted. I expected something drastic to happen, but I still was in awe with the ending. It seems that of the three guys, I kept choosing the wrong one at the wrong time and it was infuriating but also exciting, keeping me on my toes.

The politics are very straightforward: Silvers have powers and Reds don't. However, I love that even in the first book Mare sees evidence of weak Silvers and strong Reds, showing that it depends on the individual rather than the group. It also highlights the power propaganda plays on both the lower classes and the upper classes. Eventually, no news is trustworthy, and I think Mare is starting to see these blurring lines.

I loved Mare and her rationality. There was one scene where I thought she acted like a stupid teenager, but then, once in 383 pages is perfectly natural. While she makes mistakes, she also does so with her family in mind, and this is a frame of mind I can support.

The setting is beautiful, the plot is fast-paced, and the characters transformed multiple times. YA usually lacks solid character development because writers and editors seem to think readers want YA to show how the girl chooses between a love triangle, but this isn't a contemporary romance. Give us some meat, some hearty Red meat that bleeds as red as the Stilts. 

I'll definitely be checking out the sequel, Glass Sword.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

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