Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Red Queen

"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 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 her to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal."

Yes friends, we have yet another belated review from yours truly. The crazy thing is that I bought this book on its release day back in February, and have stared at this chillingly beautiful cover since. So why did you wait so damn long to read it, Jane. I'LL TELL YOU WHY. This book was so hyped - every blogger and YouTuber got a very fancy marketing box and you literally could not read a blog or watch a video without it being mentioned. And if you know me, dear friend, you know that I so enjoy being contrary and hate being swayed by impressionable others. So I waited. And stared at that cover because damn.

It's a good thing I did, because Red Queen far exceeded my expectations. The first book in a series, Red Queen felt rich and powerful, unlike some of its contemporaries (cough The Sin Eater's Daughter cough). The world building and magic system - based on different color blood - was engrossing and well developed. Forced into poverty and virtual slavery purely because of their Red blood, the lower caste society that Mare is born into is cruel with little hope. Mare is such a great female protagonist - she is strong, and more focused on getting justice for her people than giggling at princes. I loved how real Mare felt, that she was angry and passionate but not in a way that made her unapproachable to the reader. Rather, I rallied around Mare - delighted in her rebellion, her moments of exposing the system for what it was, both in political and personal ways.

The world itself was brilliant - two opposing groups, one of which oppresses the other is not a new theme, period, but I thought the different colored blood and superhuman powers were really well portrayed. The Silvers have these incredible abilities, which they use to be great warriors, as testaments to the strength of their families. This is a totally different style of court intrigue. The characters were so well crafted, and I could envision them as real people as I read. Their motivations and true feelings are always just hidden, so in the end I felt just as betrayed and stunned as Mare. This isn't a spoiler, because the BLODDY SYNOPSIS GIVES THE WHOLE THING AWAY. Sorry, that's just a major pet peeve for me. Be mysterious with your synopses, publishers. We won't want to buy the book if we get the milk for free. Wait, that's not right...

ANYWAY, I digress. Red Queen was a great, impactful-in-a-magical-way read, and I highly recommend it to any readers who enjoy fantasy. Fans of The Hunger Games/Divergent/dystopian in which a group of young adults rise up to overthrow the baddies, will also enjoy this. And because you all know how much I love a villain...well, you'll have to read the book to find out who's my second favorite character. Dun dun dunnn. When book two comes out, I'll embrace the hype because it's well deserved.

Goodreads rating: 4 / 5 stars

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