All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

on August 16, 2017

Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
Victoria Aveyard
Orion Books
2015, 383p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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 bought this book way back in February on the recommendation of an author friend of mine and it’s sat on my shelf ever since. I was actually glad to have an excuse to read it – in signing up for the challenge I tried to include books that I feel fit the overall theme of a fantasy/quest type reading challenge, particularly given the character path that I took (Mage). I don’t always gravitate towards fantasy, my reading is significantly dominated by contemporary general fiction and romance.

Mare is a “red” (meaning she has red blood) and lives in relative poverty in a small village. Her three older brothers have been conscripted and soon Mare will be too when she reaches her 18th birthday. Only her younger sister will escape the fighting, having a coveted job sewing for Silvers. In a society where Silvers are special, privileged and wanting for nothing, the Reds fight their battles for them and are kept far down the chain.

All that changes when a chance meeting with a stranger leads to a job for Mare and from there, she’s revealed to have exceptional abilities that she should not have. Silvers are gifted with abilities – controlling fire, water, earth, reading minds, exceptional strength. Reds don’t have these gifts (part of the reason they’re considered lesser) so Mare is an anomaly, something that threatens the very structure of society.

I enjoyed quite a lot about this book even though the core of it is certainly nothing new. But there were elements of it I found refreshing, such as the structure of the gifts the Silvers possess and how they’re generally family dominant. They’re gifted with only one particular ability and train to harness it. Mare is significantly behind when her ability is discovered and is tossed into a rigorous training and learning regime, with her newness to her ability being tempered by her raw talent. Mare is powerful and different, her gift manifesting in a slightly different way than usual, perhaps a hint of her otherness. She’s idealistic, desperate for a cause but I really liked that she used the small bargaining power she had to better her family, to attempt to improve things for them. I thought that her family were very interesting and wish they’d been around for more of the story. Her father in particular is quite an interesting character.

This is a bit of a love triangle with Mare torn between two princes – the one the royal family has decided to wed her to in order to keep her close and his older brother, the heir. Despite the fact that Mare seems to want to connect with her seemingly sweet and idealistic prince, she can’t help but be drawn to his brother, who has had duty and expectation drummed into him. I’m never a big fan of love triangles (I also have a habit of picking the wrong one….. so often!) but this one wasn’t too bad to be honest. It didn’t feel like a love triangle so much because she was forced into an engagement with a person she didn’t know and she wants to feel loyalty to him, given she’s supposed to be marrying him and it seems they share similar ideals and wants. I wasn’t really into this prince throughout the story, I have to admit I preferred the heir but despite the ending of this particular book I’m not sure what the endgame is.

The first part of the book feels a bit slow but I enjoyed the pacing past the halfway mark and the ending was explosive and unexpected. I am definitely going to read the next book (I don’t own the next 2, which is probably a good thing as I will finish this challenge before purchasing them I think) because I’m quite keen to see what happens next for Mare and where the rebellion goes.

7/10

Book #138 of 2017

 

Red Queen is part of my involvement in #TheReadingQuest challenge hosted by Aentee @ Read At Midnight. The awesome artwork is by CW @ Read, Think, Ponder. I am working on the Mage path and Red Queen ticks off the category of Read A Book Set In A Different World.

Here are my updated stats! All characters start with 10 EXP and 10 HP. I gained 10 Experience points for completing my first book and 38 health points (1pt per 10pages read).

Next up: Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

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