Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Adventure, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood – those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own – an ability she didn’t know she had. Except… her blood is Red. To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard – the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince – and Mare against her own heart. From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.”
Review: I have put off reading Red Queen for awhile now because I didn’t want to get wrapped up in a new series when I am already invested in several others. However, I recently caved and picked up Aveyard’s first book. Unsurprisingly, I finished Red Queen in two days. It is almost shocking that a debut fantasy novel can be so polished and imaginative. Where somewhat similar books in this genre (such as the Selection series) drastically fail at getting the reader fully invested in the culture and strife of an imaginary world, Aveyard greatly succeeds. Aside from being well-paced, the complexities of a Red/Silver world are thoroughly explored throughout the book.
“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 that 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.”
I also felt like Aveyard did an excellent job of creating complex and multi-faceted characters. Mare is certainly someone you can root for and her very-human emotions make her likeable and relatable. Her constant struggle to keep a deadly secret while also trying to find a way to use her unique position for good keeps the reader captivated every step of the way.
Lucas: “Be prepared. The instructors are famous for being able to break even the strongest soldiers. They won’t take well to your sass.”
Mare: “I don’t take well to be broken.”
Aveyard also did a good job of not showing all of her cards early on in the novel. There were actual plots twists and unexpected surprises that I really appreciated, given how predictable young adult fiction can be these days. All in all, this was an excellent debut novel by Aveyard and I am very excited to read the second book in the series, Glass Sword.