“I hate First Friday.”
With four simple yet heavy words, this is where the story begins. Red Queen is a promising start to Aveyard’s Red Queen series, with plenty of colourful characters and exciting plot turns. But does it stack up to the stiff competition set by its YA predecessors like The Hunger Games and Graceling?
Age Group & Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia, Romance
Mood: Fantastical; Hopeful; Oppression; Rebellion
Point of View: First Person Protagonist
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 2015
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.
Source: Back of book.
Noting that I finished this book in less than a day, I have to say I most definitely enjoyed reading this novel. I chose Red Queen on a whim, seeing that Chapters had a sale happening for hardcover novels. With a bloody covered crown on the cover, I had a hunch this novel was bound to be full of fantasy elements with rebellion and war tied into the mixture. Apparently, my thoughts were accurate.
Let’s talk about the writing…
Aveyard has this way of grabbing your attention right at the first chapter, making her novel quite the page-turner. The language is both simple and not overly descriptive. This is what makes it such as quick and easy read! If you want a novel that is descriptive enough to set the image but doesn’t prolong this part of the reading experience (I.e. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy), the Red Queen series is a great book to add to your To Be Read list.
The characters are well rounded, developing in both positive and negative aspects during the course of the novel. Some grow more confident and courageous, taking on leadership or lone-wolf roles. Others take a completely different turn, their personalities changing to the point the character appears to be a whole new being. Aveyard added an amazing element to both major and minor characters – they all have flaws, creating minor to catastrophic consequences from their actions. It was such a wonderful relief to see characters who AREN’T perfect! Honestly, it becomes rather exhausting seeing so many self-righteous good doers in books who know exactly what to do at the perfect moment.
One unfortunate side note: I found the characters mirrored other literary characters from other largely known novels…big names we already know and love (or hate). For instance, Mare Barrow is basically a shadow of Katniss Everdeen from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. This is bound to happen in the world of literature though, so I don’t fret over this too much. For those who do mind, you have be warned.
Now, the story…If you are one of those readers who wants a book where you are constantly guessing at how the story will unfold and second guessing every future decision that will be made in the course of the story…this might not be your cup of tea. There are some surprises I wasn’t expecting. Yet, the story is rather conventional in the world of young adult fantasy novels and dystopian literature. I was able to guess more than half of the decisions made and their outcomes, which is saying a lot since I’m a rather oblivious individual. The story is still wonderful and does bring something a little new to the table, just know it will most likely mimic something you have already read if you read a lot of fantasy or dystopian young adult literature.
If you are a fan of strong female heroines, rebellion, love triangles, simple language use, well rounded characters, and a story that only has a few surprises along the way, Red Queen may be the next read for you.
Next Read Suggestions