Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, #1
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 10th 2015
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…
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
This was actually a re-read for me, and as much as I wanted to enjoy Red Queen just as much the second time as I did the first, I didn’t. The plot was good, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t read before; the characters were mostly unextraordinary and the world building was good in some aspects but lacking in quite a few others.
Mare Barrow is a Red in a world ruled by Silvers, a world where her people are either sent to war when they turn eighteen or they break their backs working for the rest of their lives. With no job Mare knows she faces enlistment on her birthday; she isn’t ready to go but she has a grim acceptance for her fate. But when her best friend loses his job and faces her fate Mare isn’t going to let it happen to him. She has a plan to let the black market take them away but she needs money first, more money than she has ever stolen or even seen in her life.
But things go wrong and it’s Mare’s sister who pays the ultimate price for her plan. Unable to shoulder her parents disappointment Mare flees her house and ends up at a bar a couple of towns away where she meets Cal. The next morning Mare has a job at the palace.
Mare’s first day she finds herself witnessing the Queenstrial, and when one of the competitors nearly destroys the arena Mare falls through the lighting barrier that protects the spectators and, seemingly, to her death.
Mare’s has power, power a Red like her shouldn’t have. She is a curiosity to the King and Queen, and because her powers were revealed in front of the powerful Silvers the Queen has to let Mare live, but as a Silver. Mare Barrow becomes Lady Mareena Titania, a Silver engaged to the youngest Prince. She is made into a Princess and the royal families mouthpiece to the Reds, they plan to use her to calm the revolutions started by the Scarlet Guard. But Mare isn’t content with her new life, not while her people are suffering. She starts to play a very dangerous game with Maven, Cal, the Scarlet Guard and the Queen herself.
Mare is a thief and a good one, but she is the black sheep of her family and would give anything to have her parents look at her the way they do her sister. When Mare plays the role of Mareena she has to act as if she belongs in the world of the Silvers but she holds onto her Red heritage like a shield.
I’m not sure whether I liked Mare’s character or not. She had her goods qualities; she loves her family, and despite being a Princess she still cares for her people and hates the conditions they are living in, but at times she seemed flat and one-dimensional. She tries to do her best but it often backfires on her; in spite of seemingly not trusting people she does tend to rely heavily on people she probably shouldn’t.
Cal is that character you have in every story; the prince with a good heart, who loves his people and honestly wants better for them than what they currently have. However I really did not like him, like Mare he seemed very one-dimensional in some ways, and it wasn’t until the end of Red Queen that he, along with his actions and motivations, started to actually feel real.
Maven is probably the only character I actually liked; he is probably the most well developed of the lot. At first glance he just seemed to be Cal’s younger brother, swamped by his Cal’s shadow, but as we get to know him we see he is so much more than that. He is smart but like his mother his intelligence is the deadly and sharp kind. He seems to be sure of his power and his place; but underneath he is a lot like Mare, they both crave their parents respect and pride.
I liked the relationship between Mare and Maven a lot more than the one between Mare and Cal. The romance between Mare and Maven took a while to actually form into something more than an uneasy alliance. The two of them shared secrets and plans and it forms a bond between them. Mare comes to feel that she can truly rely on him, in spite of the fact that he is a Silver and she is a Red.
*Spoilers for Red Queen below*
The part of Red Queen I enjoyed the most was the ending when, after Maven’s betrayal, Mare chooses neither him nor Cal. The relationship between all three of them has been fractured, seemingly beyond repair; Maven betrayed both Mare and Cal and, under Maven’s influence, Mare betrayed Cal. The words Mare says to Maven “I choose no one” was possibly one of my favourite quotes from her. I would love to see Mare become more independent from both of them, to form her own plans and thoughts instead of relying on one of them to protect her.
*End of spoilers*
We see a lot of the world of the Reds and Silvers; the Stilts where Mare lives, the Summer Palace and later the Capital where the Silver royal family live are all explained in great detail. However we aren’t really given a lot of back story. The Silvers rule over the Reds but we are never told why, or why the Silvers have powers and, until Mare, the Reds don’t. We see some of the cities surrounding the Capital but we are never really see them more than once and they’re never really mentioned again. We see a lot of Mare’s world and the surface of things, but we don’t get any back story or deeper explanation as to the history or culture.
I did enjoy Red Queen; overall I thought it was a good story and I am planning on picking up the sequel. However in a world where we have dystopian novel after dystopian novel on the shelves Red Queen just didn’t stand out for me. Like I said it’s a good story but not unique.
What did you think of Red Queen? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.