Goodreads: Red Queen
Series: Red Queen #1
Published: Feb. 2015
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
On August 15, Krysta reviewed Red Queen, concluding, “Red Queen kept me entertained for a day or two, but it did not impress me. At this point, I do not feel interested enough in either the characters or the plot to continue with the series. I can find Cinderella stories, dystopias, and court intrigue aplenty in other books–books that might strike me as more original.” Here’s my take:
Red Queen has a lot of hype to live up to. It was one of the most anticipated YA books of 2015, and many readers fell in love upon publication. Unfortunately, I’m more with Krysta on this one; the book is entertaining, but not necessarily something special.
The tropes start from the beginning of the novel. Dystopians that hinge on segregation are a growing trend, and Red Queen jumps right on board. In this world, people with silver blood live in opulence while they oppress those with red blood, unaware of a growing rebellion. Unfortunately, the beauty of books that tackle discrimination is their ability to show how pointless it is to judge someone’s value by some arbitrary physical trait, but Red Queen completely upends that by creating a group of people who actually are “superior:” people with silver blood have super powers while those with red blood do not (mostly). Sure, the point that people with super powers don’t have a right to oppress people without those powers stands, but the fact that the silver bloods actually are different in a nontrivial way works against the message.
So the world-building is a little shaky. What about the plot? It’s basically what one would expect from this type of fantasy novel. Little thief girl learns to live a life of lies, all the while planning to break out and aid the revolution. Sass abounds as she gets away being rude to people who have every ability to kill her on the spot. The girl gets caught in a love triangle. All this is entertaining as it plays out, but not much of it is surprising. The real question are about who is really on whose side, but there are enough hints throughout the book that most of the revealed allegiances are not a shock either.
Red Queen is a solid book. Aveyard goes to some effort to try to have complex world building and characters. It’s a fun read, but in the end doesn’t offer a lot new to YA fantasy. I think I may have enjoyed it more if all the hype hadn’t led me to expect something incredibly dark and highly original, instead of a standard fantasy/dystopian mash-up.