Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Red Queen, book 1
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Mare Barrow lives in a fiercely divided world in which lowly, human Reds serve the god-like Silvers with their god-like powers and strength. She does what she can to support her family but her red blood will see her fighting a senseless war, just like all the other Reds – her brothers and father – who found themselves conscripted.
A chance meeting saves her from the inevitability of the front lines and thrusts her into the beautifully wicked world of the Silvers where she unknowingly reveals an ability only one of silver blood should have. To hide this, she becomes engaged to one of the king’s sons and surreptitiously stripped of her true identity.
Almost immediately, Mare finds herself engaged in a war that had been brewing far longer than the one she thought she’d end up in. Now she is placed on the front lines of a battle of blood, power, and politics.
And it soon becomes clear that trust, truth, and freedom will be a bloody price to pay.
Red Queen was a very compelling read, one that kept me on edge all throughout. The mystery and complexity of intrigue were well-crafted by Victoria Aveyard and kept me guessing even when I felt like I had things figured out. I also liked how Aveyard used the theme of one sibling living in another’s shadow – a very relatable theme – to cause tension and development. I have mixed feelings about the romance aspect but I want to see how things progress in the next book before I come to a sound conclusion.
I really like Mare’s character. She’s strong and willing to do what’s right for the sake of her family and fellow Reds. She tries her best, falls and gets back up, holding her head high even when she feels like crumbling – which is a lot but understandable considering the things that happen. I still see her as a strong, likable, human character and protagonist. Her character was a perfect vehicle to tell and propel the story forward. What I liked best about what Aveyard did with Mare is give her an ability that isn’t one of the ones initially introduced (or known?, though the Silvers don’t seem too surprised by the possibility of such an element, so I guess that is just something you have to suspend your disbelief about unless it’s address in later books). From the beginning, you know Mare will turn out to be special but the ability she has makes the cliché special/chosen type of character work in a cool way.
Aside from the ugly divide between people, the world of Red Queen is really interesting. It’s modern but not what we know today – more like pre-industrial revolution. There’s certainly advanced technology with things like cameras, screens, walls, databases, and electricity. There are guns and modes of transportation by land, sea and air. The structure of it all is familiar but different and interesting – almost otherworldly. The abilities the Silvers have have that same familiarity and difference. For example, a Silver could be a singer, which reminded me of sirens but with more to them. If you’re into world-building, you’ll like what Aveyard has devised the Red Queen universe.
I am thoroughly shocked by this book – pleasantly surprised and terrified for what will happen next. I had settled on an ending in my mind but I’m glad I was wrong. I can’t wait to reading book 2, Glass Sword, hopefully later this year. Red Queen was definitely a great read.