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BOOK REVIEW: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

| 14 September 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Orion
February 2015
Paperback, £9.99 GBP
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli

7.5/10

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

  I used to think there was only the divide, Silver and Red, rich and poor, kings and slaves. But there’s much more in between, things I don’t understand, and I’m right in the middle of it. I grew up wondering if I’d have food for supper; now I’m standing in a palace about to be eaten alive.
Red in the head, Silver in the heart.

Mare Barrow lives in a world divided by the colour of their blood. Where other worlds and countries have been divided by politics, skin, beliefs, this dystopian creation is split by the colour of the blood that runs through their veins: Silver and Red. If you’re a Red, you’re the scum of the earth, the lowest of the low. You’re a slave, you’re poor, you barely have warm running water and you live in the slums – the Stilts. If your blood is Silver, it means you’re a noble. You have powers — telkies, nymphs, whispers, people who can bend minds at will and turn invisible, the best soldiers — and you have money and food and clothes. They use the Reds until they die. And when they do, they will be discarded and more Reds used.

The only thing that serves to distinguish us, outwardly at least, is that Silvers stand tall. Our backs are bent by work and unanswered hope and the inevitable disappointment with our lot in life.

As a thief, Mare survives the only way she knows how: pickpocketing and stealing, feeding her family enough for survival. Her three brothers have been conscripted to fight in the war, and Mare’s younger sister, Gisa, is the only one with a bright, promising future.

Soon, Mare will be conscripted. When she finds out her best friend, a boy she’s taken care of since childhood, has been fired from his job, thus sealing his fate to war, she desperately seeks out the help of a rebel group who want to rise, as Red as the dawn. The price they ask her to pay is too much – there is only one way she can get the money they want. Gisa agrees to smuggle her into the city where the Silvers live and work so she can steal the money she needs.

But things go horribly wrong and Gisa loses her promising future – and so does their family. Things, though, are changing in Mare’s world. From petty thief, she becomes something more. An important change, yet one that may cost her her life. On one dark, desperate night, after all hope seems lost, she tries to steal from the wrong man. He pays her a kindness, only to reveal himself later as the person Mare least expected…

The glass goblets in my hands drop, landing harmlessly in the sink of water. I know that smile and I know those eyes. They burned into mine only last night. He got me this job, he saved me from conscription.
He was one of us. How can this be? And then he turns fully, waving all around.
There’s no mistaking it. T
The crown prince is Cal.

Soon, she finds herself thrown into a mad, wild goose chase and intrigue, deception, politics and a “love triangle” between two wildly-opposite princes. But, as always, anyone can betray anyone. And Mare has an unsurmountable amount of power, an impossibility considering the colour of her blood, and it has not gone unnoticed.

To say Victoria Aveyard took me by surprise would be an understatement. I went into this with mid-high expectations, wanting to love it but at the same wanting to not love it so I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed. The truth is, I was both. I was both delighted and slightly disappointed, but not enough to stop me from reading the next books. (No pressure here, Aveyard. Just pop ’em out soon, okay, and no one gets hurt.) I’ve seen this sort of thing done before, like with Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses where the roles are reversed. What are now considered as “below” your average being have been flipped to be “on top.” Where I didn’t enjoy Malorie’s execution of her series, I enjoyed what Aveyard presented.

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 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.

Another problem I had was with the world-building. I feel that, for dystopia, we were given close to nothing to work on. We don’t know why the world is the way it is, or why there are suddenly people with powers and silver blood running around, smashing stuff up and killing puppies, just that it is that way. I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt for this, though, because Mare, our MC, has only ever seen the Stilts (her hometown) and the Palace, a giant glass structure, so she hasn’t seen the world and doesn’t know enough to explain to us why things are that way. I’m hoping to see more explanations in the coming books. (Which I am mega excited for, by the way.)

I also wasn’t entirely sold on Mare’s relationship with her family, or with the other people around her. She speaks of her family only to cement the idea that Reds are poor and weak, and they deserve more. What happened to good memories in bad times? Mare has none — she only gives us the sad stuff. Like her relationship with Kilorn, her childhood best friend, I saw it more as a convenience than actual friendship… and I felt the same about Julian, her instructor at the palace.

However, this a me-not-you thing. From the other glowing reviews, I can see that everyone loved the characters, the story, everything, but I did and didn’t. I guess I needed a little more… oomph to completely sell me on this story. The second half was much, much better and I raced through it.

Overall? I will definitely recommend this book to my friends and I am looking forward to the next books!

Aly Locatelli

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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