Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (February 2015) Bought with my Christmas book tokens :)
“The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?”
*this will be as spoiler free as possible, so some points might be a bit vague. Feel free to drop me a message if you wanna rant and rave about the plot, characters etc.
The cover man. This cover is doing so much work by staying understated. It’s beautiful! And I don’t mind saying it’s part of the reason I wanted to read it.
I’ve spotted some mixed reviews around the interwebs, so I did go in with some trepidation.
At first, I will admit, it felt like a chore to read. And that’s never a good sign. But my attitude changed very much so, by the end.
What worked for me?
Maven – Huh huh. Yep. Whatever you say about him, the way his character is presented on the page is perfection. He has the biggest impact, methinks.
Cal – Yup. Liked him too. His interest in mechanics is what swayed me. You know what I’m talking about. ;)
Abilities – I really enjoyed discovering the different abilities the ‘silvers’ had. I thought out of everything, this felt the most originally crafted.
That twist – Even though I could almost feel it coming, this was the one thing that jumped up and got me. I’m not completely sure someone could change so suddenly like that. But I felt that one. Ouch.
What didn’t work?
Story – Ok. Not ALL of the story. Let me try and explain. There were a lot of moments near the beginning that I struggled with because of how predictable it was. And when it wasn’t predictable, it wasn’t unexpected. Red Queen feels like it takes from a many number of fantasy and SF canon and just reuses it without really changing it.
These are the books this book reminded me of: Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen…
And sure, you could probably find glimmers of all in each. But I didn’t read the above titles and think whilst reading them that they were like other books. It was only in hindsight. Here though, I couldn’t help but see it as I read it.
Here’s why I think this might be the case: Not enough time is spent immersing the reader into the world. I like The Stilts and the idea of a lowly race of people oppressed by some god-like others must rise up! Well, it’s a timeless theme. But I don’t think we were there long enough to care. We were told how bad it was, but I didn’t get chance to experience it with Mare.
Mare – Is a female horse. I can’t get passed that. Soz. Xx
Show me – Like I mention above, there was a lot of ‘telling’ me how Mare felt, how terrible conditions were, how the politics of the world were so much bigger than her.. I wanted to feel it, not be told it.
Details – Again, I think more time needed to be spent leading the reader in a bit more. I wasn’t sure what kind of world this was. They have electricity, television screen, CCTV.. so this is a hybrid type fantasy setting? I think what was throwing me was the turns of phrase, using words like ‘hell’ clanged because did they believe in hell? As far as I could tell, they seemed to have a system completely devoid of faith, except that of the monarchy.
Also, I wasn’t sure I was really going along with the motive to keep Mare alive. Could the plot have played out the same without her? Probably. It might have even have been easier, in the long run, if you think about it. With Queen Elara’s powers, surely they could have had anyone take Mare’s role in it all? *shrugs*
It’s fair to say I have conflicted feelings about this book. However, it did get better the further I read. The beginning, for me, did not fill me with much confidence that this was going to be anything special or different. But the end of this book is its redeeming quality. It’s exciting and I was finally feeling how high the stakes were.
I definitely look forward to reading book 2 because I’m attached to the brothers, if no one else. I can’t wait to see how their stories unfold from here! Where the hell can you go?!
I gave this book a good 3.5 out of 5. I wanted it to blow my socks off, but it didn’t. I enjoyed it well enough though and there is some real shiny characterisation going on.