Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Red Queen

Red Queen
By Victoria Aveyard
Published: February 10, 2015

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
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.

My review:

I would say that this book did not remind me of Graceling at all. Other reviewers have pointed out similarities between Red Queen and The Selection, The Hunger Games, Shatter Me and The X-Men. I think that a lot of YA fantasy and dystopian fiction novels borrow from what has already come before. That could be due to publisher and reader demand for more books like The Hunger Games or A Game of Thrones and other popular series. It could also be because authors feel inspired by other books they've read in a genre. Unfortunately marketing a book by comparing it to other very successful books can sometimes set it up to disappoint readers.

While it is true that Red Queen has a familiar feel it is also a very entertaining book. I liked learning about the various powers of the Silvers and Mare's own unusual power. I also wanted to find out what would happen to Mare and the rebellion. 

As characters go, I liked Mare but I wished she'd be a little stronger or more independent. The girl she is when we first meet her in the village appears that way but once she is among the Silvers she is not very sure of herself. She also doesn't know who to trust which doesn't help matters. The rebels want her to join their cause and she wants to be a part of it too but she doesn't want the people she cares about to take the same risks. I am hoping to see Mare become more of a leader and growing more confident in her abilities. She seemed to be heading in that direction towards the end of the book.

The brothers are portrayed as opposites. Prince Cal is the heir and sort of a warrior/golden child while Maven who is the son of the current queen is seen as weaker in the eyes of his father and others. I really didn't care for either of them as love interests though I like one more than the other and hope that character is allowed to develop more in the sequel.

Queen Ellara is one of the main villains of the book and she reminded me of Cersei Lannister but with magical ability. While I love a good villain I think her motivations could have been expanded on. Her character needed a little more depth besides being the "evil queen". 

Overall I liked this debut even with the flaws and comparisons to other books. I think the strength of this novel is the action and the magic elements rather than character development. I found it interesting to learn about people's various abilities and to watch as Mare discovered her own power. I am still a little puzzled over the politics with the Silvers, the Reds and the war they are fighting. Hopefully that will be better explained in the sequel too. There is plenty of action and intrigue to keep the pages turning and a plot twist that changes the game. I think if you pick this book up and let go of the comparisons then you can allow yourself to enjoy the ride. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss


  1. Thanks for the review! People seem to have mixed feelings about this one, but I'm excited to check it out.

  2. Graet review! This book, for me, was entertaining, but it didn't live up to the hype. I completely went into it thinking it was going to be the next Graceling, but was hugely disappointed. I agree with you regarding the politics between the Reds and the Silvers. I didn't really understand it, so perhaps there will be more of a backstory in the sequel. I did like all the action in this book though…definitely kept me interested. Great review, Christina!


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