Red Queen

Red Queen

Title: Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Series: Red Queen, #1

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: February 10th 2015


Three Stars

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

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“I used to think there was only the divide, Silver and Red, rich and poor, kings and slaves. But there’s much more in between, things I don’t understand, and I’m right in the middle of it.”

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.

“Many things led to this day, for all of us. A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.”

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.

…The Characters

“In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.”

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.

“A king should know his people. That’s why I sneak out,” he murmurs. “I do it in the capital too, and at the war front. I like to see how things really are in the kingdom, instead of being told by advisers and diplomats. That’s what a good king would do.”

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.

“The truth is what I make it. I could set this world on fire and call it rain.”

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 words are heavy as stone but right. So right. “I choose no one.”

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*

…The Setting

“In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that.
The gods rule us still, they have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

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.

41 thoughts on “Red Queen

  1. I adored your review! Though I did not enjoy the beginning of the book and decided not to go through with it. The flaws were countless and Mare, to me, was more annoying than Bella Swan!
    I felt like Red Queen was very unoriginal on the whole!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sonia 😀
      I completely agree with you about the characters, I think they we’re probably the worst part of the book. They all felt kind of flat and I can tell you now that doesn’t really improve at all in the second book!
      Red Queen, and Glass Crown to some extend, kind of felt like a generic dystopian novel. There’s nothing really special about it, certainly nothing I could see that explained all the hype surrounding it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am probably going to come back to the book after a month or two, though I really don’t think that it will change my perspective on the characters. Even more so, how do we soldier through a book when the main character is the one who tells the story? Esp when that main character is as aggravating as Mare.
        I am extremely upset because I don’t think the book deserved the hype nor did it deserve to be published!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll wish you luck with reading the book the second time. This was actually a re-read for me; the first time I enjoyed the story but this time I just seemed to notice a lot of the faults and Mare completely got on my nerves. And yeah, it’s hard to enjoy a book when the main character is so annoying and its in first person.
        Oh I completely agree with you, I’ve read so many better self-published books and Red Queen just seems like a generic dystopian novel that is already on the bookshelves ten times over!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marie 😀
      The characters were the main thing I didn’t like. I completely agree with you about the story being familiar, it seems like every dystopian book follows the same basic plot and after a while if you’ve read one you’ve read them all!
      I’m actually reading Glass Sword now, have you read it yet? I’m not really far enough in to give a proper opinion yet but who knows what will happen between now and me finishing the book! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s exactly it! I think it’s why, after a long time loving dystopian books, I’m not feeling in the mood to read more of those lately. That’s too bad, but they all just feel the same 😦
        Ohh awesome, well I’ll be looking forward to your review then! I have read it, and I was kind of bothered by it…? I mean, it was okay and entertaining, definitely, but the things that annoyed me in the first book really annoyed me more in this one, too, haha :p

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think maybe I need to stop reading dystopian books for a while, it’s like the stories are blurring together a little in my mind. For a dystopian book to stand out for me it needs to be unique and offer something different to all the rest, Red Queen just doesn’t.
        I’m about halfway through Glass Sword now, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a review tomorrow. It’s good but there are parts of the story that are just too same-y and I’m not really warming up to any of the characters much either. Part of me is thinking if I don’t really enjoy this one do I really want to read the next? As much as I hate stopping in the middle of the series there’s not much that’s making this book stand out for me :/

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I have the same feeling! It annoys me, because I love that genre so much, and I don’t want to end up hating it, ahha, so I think a break is on order, too 🙂
        Ohh well I can’t wait to read it! I understand, I didn’t like the characters much in that sequel, and that’s too bad. I told myself I would stop this series, then the ending happened, and… well, just, I can’t wait for you to get to it and talk about it ahha :p

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s one of my favourite genres as well but at the moment it’s either take a break from the genre or be like ‘urgh, another dystopian book’ next time I’m in a bookshop :/
        Well if the ending changed your mind then maybe it’ll have the same effect one me. I’ve made my way through more now so hopefully I’ll be able to finish it and have my review up tomorrow (well today, I’m writing this after midnight) I’m actually excited for the ending now you’ve mentioned that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ugh I get it, at the moment I’m having the feeling of, when on Goodreads or in a bookshop, I see a dystopian book, I’m just, “meh, I’ll pass”. It makes me kind of sad…
        I hope it will! It certainly didn’t make me feel less annoyed at the whole book, but it did make me want to know what would happen next. After midnight, you’re a night bird, haha :p

        Liked by 1 person

      6. There seems to be a lot of dystopian books being released lately, I think it’s still following on from The Hunger Games success. But I’m becoming the same, moving dystopian books lower on my to-read list or passing them over all together 😦
        I have finished Glass Crown now, and posted my review, once again just before midnight (definitely a night bird) 😀 I was still just as annoyed with the characters but the plot definitely improved towards the end. I’ll probably still pick up the next book, just because I kinda want to know how things go after that ending 😮 and I can’t really leave a series unfinished!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yeah Glass Sword isn’t my favourite book so far this year.
        Oh yes, if a book is bad there’s nothing I want more than to just DNF it and put it to the back of my mind but I can’t. I need to know what happens all the way to the end!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. You never DNF a book, then? That’s interesting, because I think I’ve never DNF a book before, either. Sometimes I’m thinking about it, but then I just don’t feel like I should, because who knows, it might get better, and I always want to know how it ends ahah :p

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Honestly I can’t remember ever DNF a book, although it’s possible there’s been one or two, never say never you know.
        Oh yeah I’m the same. Also if it’s a book I’m really not enjoying I sometimes think ‘if I gave up on this book I could read something so much better next’ but usually my curiosity gets the better of me.
        I’m curious about who Mare ends up with in spite of everything. Part of me thinks it’ll be a massive twist if she chooses someone other than Cal and Maven but I doubt the author will go there 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      10. ME TOO, we are too curious, haha. I just feel like I have to know how this ends, even if I don’t like it, haha.
        Oh yes, me too, I would LOVE it to be a massive twist, but I don’t think it will be that way, sadly. I’m thinking that she’ll go with Cal, but well…we never know, with that book, ahah. What do you think? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Well we could just get the very last book and read the very last chapter. That’ll certainly tell us how it ends 😀 I actually used to do that with some books, read the end before actually finishing it. I don’t anymore though.
        Both Red Queen and Glass Sword read like generic dystopian books so I doubt there’ll be a massive twist like that in it. It would certainly set the series apart though.
        See at the moment I think she’ll end up with Cal but only because there was so much interaction between the two of them. I expect there’ll be more Mare and Maven scenes in the next book which may change my mind 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Ohhhh that’s so cruel! REally? I sometimes do that by mistake, because I love to read aknowledgments beforehand, and I end up reading the end of the book, I’m so mad at myself afterwards, hahaha.
        Yes you’re right…well who knows, we might be surprised :p I think we won’t know until the very end who she ends up with…it’s another way to torture us and make us read the book :p

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Yeah, only sometimes and honestly it’s something I stopped doing years ago. I guess I just liked knowing beforehand that no one was going to die and that the characters would get a happily ever after 😀 I always read the acknowledgements at the end, after I’ve finished the book, so I haven’t really had the problem but oh that must be so annoying if you accidentally glimpse what happens at the end if you don’t want to!
        The next book will probably focus on Mare and Maven’s relationship, and then the fourth book I guess she’ll finally pick one of them. I just hope she doesn’t take the route of killing one of them off and having Mare “choose” the surviving one.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Ahah, I get the feeling, I’m sometimes TOO tempted to do that, even though I know how bad it is. Especially for series, or books you’ve been expecting for a while. It feels reassuring to know it ends well, but at the same time, it kills off all the suspense!
        Yes, I guess you’re right. Oh no, please, I hope she doesn’t choose to kill one of them to make the choice easier. That would be just plain stupid, and it’s not really serving the story well. Maybe she won’t pick one, at all haha, but it doesn’t seem likely.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. I know, the suspense is sometimes the best part; are they going to survive, how are they going to escape, etc. Plus the journey is just as much a part of the story as the ending is. Also if you’re in the middle of a series skipping to the end often doesn’t tell you anything, and if it ends in a cliff-hanger then that’s completely destroyed for you as well.
        It would just really suck if one of them was killed off before Mare chose between them. I kind of feel like it’s lazy writing as well, taking one of the love interests completely out of the picture so the main character can choose the other without any doubts or anything. It’s definitely be a twist if Mare chooses someone other than Cal or Maven, or if she chooses no one at all, but yeah I don’t think the story is going to go there.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. It IS the best past, and that’s why I get so mad when I spoil this, haha! It’s like anything, we need to enjoy the whole journey :p I’m being philosophical today, haha 🙂
        Well, Victoria Aveyard seems to like twists an awful LOT, so I guess we can never know what happens, haha :p

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Exactly, that’s the main reason I stopped reading the end. The anticipation of not knowing what happens next is ruined when you already know the ending!
        I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a big twist. At the moment, and just because they had so many scenes together in Glass Sword, I think Mare will choose Cal.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The story was good, nothing I haven’t read before but fun like you said. I think the main thing that bugged me was the characters, they were so flat and one-dimensional!
      I’m reading the second one now as well 🙂 I haven’t really got far enough to say whether I prefer it to Red Queen or not but who knows.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely agree on your thoughts. I DNF’d it at first. When I forced myself to read it I think I gave a 3.5/5 or a weak 4/5. It’s pretty generic and SO HYPED. Still not too sure why.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I liked it more the first time I read it but going back and re-reading I just couldn’t get into the story, it’s so similar to every other dystopian book I’ve read and the characters are so flat! I completely agree with you I have no idea why it’s so hyped up!


  3. Great review! I didn’t really enjoy Red Queen (I gave it two stars) — I thought it was very unoriginal in terms of plot and characters, and I agree completely that Mare feels very one-dimensional at times.

    Everything was just so predictable, even though Aveyard would have had the chance to twist the plot and make it more exciting (I would have LOVED, for example, if Mare fell in love with Maven instead but their ambitions diverge, making them enemies). Will you be picking up Glass Sword?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Reg! There’s quite a few people who didn’t like this book, honestly I’m a little surprised by all the hype surrounding it. Like I said I felt like I’d read this book before in every other dystopian book I’ve read so far 🙂
      I didn’t see the end coming but with Maven’s betrayal but now you’ve said it I would have loved if Mare had fallen in love with him, hell now in thinking that even Cal being the villain would have been a bigger twist.
      Yeah I’ve actually started Glass Sword already, so far it isn’t remarkable or anything but maybe it’ll improve as I get further in. Are you planning to read it?


      1. Yeah, it’s really quite generic plot-wise, character-wise, setting-wise… 😛

        I KNOW. That would be so amazing! Unfortunately that didn’t happen, and Mare just followed the steps of most YA protagonists before her: fall in love with the crown prince, haha.

        I’m not, no. When I finished Red Queen I was just so done with the story, though I did leave a little bit possibility of reading it in case people say it’s good. So far I’ve been hearing mostly really bad to bad reviews, though… so yeah, I don’t think so. I’m curious to know your thoughts later! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s like there’s a template for dystopian novels, just change the character and place names and you’re good to go 🙂
        It would have been great if there was a massive twist or something, would have made it unique but yeah, swap Mare with another dystopian heroine and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
        I haven’t gotten far into Glass Crown but so far it’s got the same problem as Red Queen. I do like Cal a little more in this book but Mare hasn’t really improved. A lot of the things that have happened so far are similar to other dystopian novels again. I’ll still finish the series, I can’t really stop a series mid-way through, but it’s not going to be a favourite of mine!


      3. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m thinking — it’s just a very non-remarkable story in general. :/

        But I have the same problem with you. I feel kind of bad stopping a series mid-way, though in my case the series in question is Throne of Glass, haha. The highest I’ve given for one of the books is 3 stars, and yet I keep reading them. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Glass Sword is no better, now I’ve read it I can say that for a fact 🙂
        In my opinion the story is just as generic as the first one, the secondary characters are literally shoved in the background until Mare needs them, and, if anything, I found Mare even more annoying in the second book.
        But because it ended on a cliff-hanger I feel I need to pick up the third one to see what happens :/
        Yeah, I’m the same. I don’t think there’s been one series which I haven’t finished, or haven’t planned to finish, no matter how bad it is. It may take me a while to get around to it though 🙂


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