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Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Red Queen
Victoria Aveyard

Series: Red Queen #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Hardback: 383 Pages
Publication: February 10, 2015
by Harper Teen

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play 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 everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.


I wholeheartedly admit that, while I found the premise of Red Queen interesting, I read this for the cover. It is such a relief to see a cover that isn't an image of a girl and doesn't really have anything to do with the plot itself. That said, while the image is symbolic, the presence of the "queen" in the title doesn't have much to do with the plot. The idea of a Red Queen is more of a passing suggestion late in the novel. After having read the novel, I would have thought that this title would be saved for one of the future installments.

The world of Red Queen is interesting but doesn't fulfill all of its potential. A world where the population has been divided between the elite and the non-elite and where the people of each group have different statuses (such as if they can find work (the Reds) and the strength of their power (the Silvers)) . . . such a world holds the potential to explore the human condition and how power affects the haves and the have-nots. Rather than building court intrigue and the human condition, however, Aveyard seems to focus the plot primarily on Mare's personal interests after arriving at court.

Even with the stronger focus on the characters, the characters were one dimensional and easily categorized into a stereotype. To name a few, Mare is the gutsy, bullheaded heroine who charges into a situation without much thought for the consequences, Cal is the romantic hero who has a habit of ignoring his personal desires to fulfill his duties, and Maven is the younger brother who has grown up in the shadow of his older brother's superior talent. While some characters end up seemingly changing personalities at the end, the changes are sudden, unexpected, and sorely disappointing. I was expecting some of these to happen; however, they're clichéd, predictable, and overdone—and I was really hoping that I was wrong. The biggest problem I had with the characters is that their character motivations were difficult to discern. The most that we delve into any one character is on a superficial level. We don't get sufficient reason for why they behave in the way they do, and this makes it impossible to fully understand and connect with the characters.

Mare's voice also lacks a distinct personality. Reading her narrative, I wouldn't be able to distinguish her from many other YA heroines. If her character motivation was better developed along with her strengths and weaknesses (particularly emotionally and psychologically), then her narrative would be stronger. Mare also runs hot-cold, a problem that I've seen in many YA heroines. She will act one way one moment and a different way the next. This happens particularly around Cal; this doesn't make sense considering how her same reasoning could be applied on other characters. I would have liked to see the characters' relationships developed better. I would also like to see at least her closer friends developed into more multi-dimensional characters in the next installment. I would also also like to see more of Mare's family or at least her backstory. Blood is an important element in this novel, and some of Mare's most important decisions occur because of her desire to protect her family and those she considers family.

That said, the plot is dull to the point that I skimmed more and more as the novel progressed. (The only thing that kept me reading to the end was my curiosity on what would happen.) While it was interesting that I didn't know until the end who would be the true hero, it also means that the novel never let us get to know any of the guys. If the hero candidates were better developed, then the reader would be able to develop suspicions and rejoice or mourn in the end when these suspicions were proven right or wrong. That my discussion on the plot centers on the guys shows that there wasn't much else to the court intrigue. It isn't until the end that an important twist is introduced to us. Given Mare's unique situation, I would have expected more foreshadowing on this issue.

I do want to make a statement here that I do not approve of someone kissing another person against his or her will even if they end up enjoying the kiss. This is sexual harassment and should not be tolerated. Even if you like the kiss and want it, you still have the right to tell the other person that what they did was wrong. Even if you are in a dating relationship, your partner does not have the right to kiss you or do anything to you against your will. No is no. I am really disappointed that this happens in the novel, especially as I thought the guy was a decent person. Especially considering what their relationship (through another person) is.

On the bright side, even if it was clichéd and a total case of plot shielding, a character that I was hoping to see turns up in the end (hint: this person teleports).

I probably won't check out the second novel. I am curious about what happens, but I'm afraid to see the series end up like The Selection did for me. I may just wait for it to show up in my local library and skim the pages to see if I'd be interested in reading further.

An ARC was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 1.5 stars

  • N/A

  • Kissing
  • Violence

2 comments on "Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard"
  1. Aw sorry to hear that it wasn't what you'd hoped but glad you did find enough to enjoy to be curious about next one


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