Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Release date: February 10th, 2015
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Rating: Total crackbook.
Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into 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 her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.
From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.
I read this book in less than a day, but I've been putting off my review of it for well over a month because I'm seriously struggling with putting into words WHY. Was it a perfect book? No, definitely not. Do I want the sequel with the fire of a thousand dragons? Pretty please with extra dragons on top.
I found the beginning to be uneven (more on that later), but I ended Red Queen on the biggest book high. It was nearing 3 am and I was totally bookishly tripping, reeling from BETRAYAL and PLOT TWISTS and SURPRISE DEATHS and EXTRA PLOT TWISTS and BATTLES TO THE DEATH and MORE PLOT TWISTS (though that last one wasn't very surprising. BUT THE OTHERS WERE). It's a book that plays on a lot of fantasy tropes that I love and then kinda goes on a crazy roller coaster ride and I'm not SURE if everything is all logically sound but IT'S A THRILL A MINUTE and people have powers and lightning is shooting out of people's fingertips and handsome princes have secret agendas and heroines with snarkitude aaaaaaaaand that's why it was 3 am by the time I hit "End of Book One".
So our heroine, Mare, is a Red, aka the red-blooded class of District 12ers (not saying this is at all a Hunger Games ripoff, just going for the easy reference for brevity's sake) who are OPPRESSED TO THE MAX by the ruling class of Silvers, aka the silver-blooded Capitols who all have poooooowers. Reds have no powers. Reds have shit lives and shit homes and they get sent to war to die for the Silvers and it's all very dystopian-esque and a shit deal. Again, not the most original stuff, but I fully got into the swing of the book once Mare discovers, in the least opportune place, that she actually HAS powers...even though she's a Red.
For Reasons that make sense but also do not (I just kind of went with everything and it made the book hella enjoyable), the Evil King affiances Mare to his younger son, Prince Maven (I told you the names were...interesting), even though she miiiight have feelings for the older son, Prince Cal. And then there's the fact that Mare HATES THE SILVERS because they're assholes and is secretly helping the Red Revolution. But also she really likes those princes and wants to know why she has powers and who the real bad guys are isn't always so simple.
|I have mastered the concept of antonyms yayy|
It's like if X-Men, Shatter Me, Shadow and Bone, and The Selection all had a weird mutant four-way baby and that baby somehow came out not quite as good as that sounds but also better? Wow, I am helpful. This is why no one puts me in charge of marketing anything.
We're inside Mare's head in first person, and I'm glad we are because I think Mare is the strongest part of the book. She's not a very easy character, and she's got attitude and selfishness and makes impossible decisions in impossible circumstances that don't always turn out. Then there's the plot, which is dark and twisty and twisted, which I loved. It moves really quickly, and lots of terrible things happen, and the final big reveal is absolutely horrendous. I saw parts of it coming, but OTHER PARTS... *waves hand of vagey vagueness*
Bbut it can't be all sunshine and roses (or I guess, in the case of this book, blood and betrayal). So remember that part about the beginning being uneven? Yeah. I was dubious to start. While I liked Mare's family dynamics and quite like her prickly personality plus her inferiority complex, the worldbuilding was giving me some pause. The pacing was kind of strange in the beginning, before Mare goes off to live with the Silvers.
The names were driving me BATTY (Kilorn? Bree? Tramy? Shade?All of these are boys???) (MARE?!), and while certain parts of Aveyard's prose were fine, the way italics were used just... I don't know. It's a taste thing, but they were everywhere, and not just in specific words. I wrote down a few quotes somewhere and then promptly lost my notes, so I can't give examples, but Mare has this habit of restating hings in italics like she's playing to the cheap seats who couldn't get it the first time, or like it's trying to be all dramatic by putting whole sentences into italics for no reason I could discern. It was a writing tic that got real old real fast for me.
I never quite connected to any of the characters besides Mare, though I found both Maven and Cal pretty interesting and quite sympathetic. The romantic situation in this book is complicated, but I LIKE romatnically complicated situations. Minus Kilorn, the Gale from back home, who I would pry out of this book and toss out the window if I could. ALSO I totally picked out the "correct" boy (not saying he's the WINNER or anything because like I said ROMANTICALLY COMPLICATED) and that fills me with triumph and glee and flatters my vanity which I like.
So. Red Queen. I don't know why I'm so incapable of explaining my feelings for this book, because I loved it but also didn't? It entertained the HELL out of me and I might buy it and I WANTS THE SEQUEL YES but like, should you read it? I think yes. I think give it a try, and who knows? It may be a crack book for you, too. I hope so, because we all need more crackbooks in our lives.