Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Book Review - Red Queen (Red Queen #1)

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Date released: Feb 10, 2015
Dates read: August 13, 2015
Amazon Link: Red Queen

“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.

I like Mare Barrow. She lives in a non-ideal situation and makes it work. Yes, she is a thief, but in that society, I can condone that. She does what she can for her family. That is until one mistakes leaves her sister (who had the potential to be a great seamstress and money maker) crippled in her hand, and Mare has to do what she can to support her family. They think she is dragged off to go serve in the war, which is akin to a death sentence. Mare, however, caught the eye of an unlikely ally when she tried to pickpocket a person who turned out to be the Crowned Prince. She ends up serving in the palace, essentially as a waitress, during one of their monthly events pitting Silvers against Silvers in a gladiatorial arena.

Long story short, a freak accident reveals that she has the powers of a Silver, but the blood color of a Red. She is forced into a life of lies she despises, pretending for the public to be a long-lost Silver living in the palace, while concurrently being despised by the Silvers, who live among her and know the truth.

This is a very typical YA dystopian, pitting one type of person (usually poor and forced into servitude - The Reds) against another of higher power (usually evolved somehow to be “better” than everyone else - The Silvers). I am not clear if this takes place in our same universe, just far, far into the future, or if this is a complete AU. I like to KNOW. So this is one of my criticisms. I know it is YA, but I like when authors can mix hard facts and current evidence with why they have chosen to write their stories a certain way. What about our society now has led to the current situation of the tale? I don’t care if it is far fetched or believable, I just like reasons.

But, I am not picky, as I stated HERE, and the story was pretty good. It is the first in a series, So I can forgive the main characters of any immediate stupidity and brash decisions. They still have their training wheels on. Mare Barrow seems to kind of go where she is pushed, and therefor, that does not scream REVOLUTIONARY LEADER to me. She is a very reluctant heroine, and starts off having very selfish tendencies. But let’s be real, she is a 17 year old girl, and most of them tend have selfish tendencies and make stupid decisions based around boys….yes, this happens too. Be warned. I hope she is able to take more of a personal stand in book 2, because I cannot stand flip-flopping characters who do not learn. This is the first book though, so again, I forgive.

The male leads in this book are...interesting. You have two Princes; Tiberias Calore "Cal" VII, who is the heir, the apparent alpha male, stickler for the rules, but does not have a clear understanding of right and wrong. He only knows how he was raised, and that is how he will live. His dedication to his kingdom is admirable, if not frustrating. Then you have the younger brother, Maven, the one tossed into the shadows, fun loving, kind, and since he is not the heir, the one with a bit more freedom. He befriends Mare, and they seem to have a good time of it. This is where a small love triangle seems to present itself, because the story is written in a way that makes us swoon for Cal, but makes Maven seem like a really good guy. Oh, and of course you have the hot male platonic best friend, Kilorn, who silently suffers from unrequited love syndrome. Sigh. Well, as with all first books in a series, not all is what is appears to be….

There is a lot more going on than meets the eye in this story, and it is not simply a “them vs. us” but paves the way for a revolution of many people vs. many people, and a whole new class of people that the Reds and Silvers never even knew existed. I am excited to see how they can spin this. If you like the Throne of Glass series (Sarah Maas), and the Grisha series (Leigh Bardugo), then you will probably enjoy the Red Queen.