Series: Red Queen, Book 1
Author: Victoria Aveyard (site)
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Fantasy
Told: First Person (Mare), Present Tense
Content Rating: Teen (violence, kissing)
Format Read: ARC (EpicLibrarian)
Find On: Goodreads
Purchase On: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
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 ...
* * *In a Sentence: A predictable fantasy that was occasionally engaging but I mostly found disappointingly formulaic.
I'm a sucker for a gorgeous cover, and Red Queen's is one of the most striking I've seen yet. However, the story under the cover was not only underwhelming but rather frustrating as it disappointed on almost all fronts.
Story: The plot was highly predictable and completely formulaic: plain girl discovers she has a unique ability and becomes a pawn in a political scheme for the crown while at the same time trying to secretly overthrow said crown for the rebel cause, but all her plans backfire and after a crushing betrayal she must fight for her life. Needless to say I saw every major twist coming from the start, and although I tried to hold out hope that it would surprise me in new and interesting ways, the story refused to divert from the formula. The climax was relatively exciting and I was happy that Mare held her own and didn't require protecting or saving in the final battle, but as per formula the epilogue twist came as no surprise and left me with little excitement for the sequel.
Setting: I initially thought this a fantasy setting, but it eventually expanded into a parallel dystopian world - at least, that was my impression. Although there wasn't anything particularly unusual or dazzling, some of the elements were intriguing and the description made everything relatively easy to picture.
Characters: Mare was unfortunately formed from an overused heroine mold: small, plain, snarky and strong-willed, she didn't fit in and seemed below average until it was revealed she was in fact a special snowflake with an impossible ability. This can be acceptable as a base, but that was pretty much it for Mare as, despite the evolving story, she refused to have a motivation. In the beginning she had no dreams or plans past not being conscripted, and while I could understand that being poor she didn't have a long life expectancy so aspirations were considered foolhardy, everyone has dreams of some sort. I needed her to aspire to something but never felt she truly did, and a character without dreams, without any sort of real motivation, leaves me little to root for other than she doesn't die.
Cal was the typical love interest: handsome, sweet, and powerful, with nothing particularly unique except perhaps his unflagging loyalty which instigated some intriguing difficulties. Maven was a predictable disappointment who read much younger than he was supposed to be, but I guess that was part of his personality? I would've loved something new with his character, but as was the norm he sadly never diverted from his formula.
Romantic Relationships: This book possessed an unfortunate love square, although I guess for the most part it was only a love triangle. Mare loved one prince but was engaged to another, and although she tried to do the right thing, the hearts wants what it wants, etc. She actually struggled with her heart though, and except for one slip kept it together for the most part which was a pleasant and rather refreshing surprise.
Writing: The writing was the only real highlight of the book for me. While nothing spectacular it could be engaging, and there were several occasions where the action sucked me in so deep I forgot where I was. If not for the writing I wouldn't have gotten far in this book, let alone finished it.
Conclusion: I really wanted to love this one as much as almost everyone else on the planet, but although the writing was engaging enough the story was way too formulaic and the motivationless main character left me little to root for. I do have an ARC of the second book and will give it a try, but at this point my expectations aren't high.
For Fans Of: formulaic dystopian fantasies