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Red Queen Hardcover – February 10, 2015
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From School Library Journal
“Aveyard weaves a compelling new world of action-packed surprises... inventive, character-driven.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A volatile world with a dynamic heroine.” (Booklist)
“Breakneck pace and engaging characters.” (School Library Journal)
“ [Aveyard] sets her audience up for a gaspworthy twist that reconfigures nearly every character’s role and leaves Mare with no one to trust but herself... This blend of fantasy and dystopia will be an unexpected and worthy addition to many genre fans’ reading list.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“Fascinating world building... Readers will be intrigued by a world that reflects today’s troubling issues concerning ethnic inequality, unfair distribution of wealth, pollution, warfare, political corruption, and the frightening power of the media.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
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All of the elements of the story that work are lifted with shocking lack of disguise from the Hunger Games. I liked the Hunger Games but I'm far from a superfan, and hadn't read it for YEARS, but immediately certain things in the book just made me roll my eyes. Trade in 'Seam' for 'Stilts', and take all of the character development components that work for the Hunger Games, and that is about the only redeeming feature of this work.
Plot holes you can drive a truck through? Yes. Condescending stuff about how the heroine (using that term loosely) bleeds inside, being just self absorbed and emo enough to make it 'young adult' fiction? Someone doesn't think much of their readers. Not to mention how clearly this person is angling to sell movie rights by incorporating what I can only describe as sound-bites of comedic relief into the action scenes, which a) don't really work, and b) just make the book worse.
I don’t like not finishing a book. It feels...wrong, but I could have stopped about 1/3 of the way through. I thought I had it all figured out, but sometimes an author will surprise you at the end with “I deliberately misled you! Don’t you feel gullible?” That was not the case here, and the junior high-esque sentence structure probably should have tipped me off to the lack of highly cerebral twists at the end. Yep, I feel gullible.
Tl;dr: I read this entire book. I want my money and my five hours back. There is no sex in this book, but don’t worry. You’ll still feel screwed afterwards.
In the Red Queen, some of those typical F/UF patterns are definitely presented, which DID make me say "hmm" when my mind was led to other series that I had read.
THE PLOT: Overall, there are some details that make this world unique. The division between the people, into the Silvers and Reds brings something new to the table and gives a little bit of the author's own flair. However, it follows the traditional setup of today's young adult dystopia when she creates the conflict between the HAVES (Silvers) and the HAVE NOTS (Reds). The Silvers are born with powers (literal, social, and political) as well as privilege. Their unique magical abilities make them "deserving" of ruling the world and too special to die in the midst of the long-running war in their world. The Reds are ordinary, and they take up the burdens of the world such as the heavy working with a conscription deadline of 18- if they do not have a job at that age, it is off to war they go.
THE CHARACTERS: Mare Barrow, the main character, is OK. There is a lot that happens in this first novel, a lot of hard truths and experiences that set her up for some overdue character development in 2016's sequel, The Glass Sword. Some of her issues put her on the pedestal next to Suzanne Collins' Katniss and Veronica Roth's Tris; she becomes caught up in a revolution and hasn't found her footing between being a pawn, a revolutionary symbol, or standing on her own two feet and being a real person-- not a tool. There are some characters that readers will love, and others that they will love to hate. Aveyard does a decent job with her other characters, making it easy to form an attachment (and a clear preference) between the two princely brothers, Tiberian (I won't tell you his other name and spoil things) and Maven.
THE TWISTS: I won't ruin things and go into specifics, but there were a few major twists within the novel. The most important one is both surprising and unsurprising. When this twist was revealed, I could understand why Aveyard made this move, and it made sense for the purpose of her plot. At the same time, I did not LIKE this twist and had hoped it wasn't coming. It sets up the rest of the major conflict for the second book, but readers may find themselves frustrated when they have to adjust their view of a previously lovable character.
THE ROMANCE: There's enough of a romantic spark to provide some conflict for Mare and move her relationships forward into complication. She is the basis of three different romantic interests. One with an old childhood friend while the others entangle her with the two princes. Aveyard toys with the reader, making it seem clear (at least to me) who Mare should be with, and then almost gleefully ripping that away. In some ways, I think that this is good for the reader. Too often we get set into our own ways and beliefs of how a book should turn out, and it can be refreshing (though disappointing) when we have to adjust and be open-minded to pairings and characters that we didn't root for in the first place. Plus, it also lets you root for a relationship despite the odds, if you don't want to give up.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Overall, I enjoyed the book. There were enough familiar patterns that I could make some predictions about where the main story arc would take Mare, but not enough to ruin my experience of reading the Red Queen. For those of you with the spare money, time, and an avid love of F/UF, check out RQ. It's worth a read, and with the sequel coming out in the next month and a half, interested readers won't have long to wait for the new installment. I hope Aveyard continues to distinguish her storyline within the second book, and help pull Mare out of Katniss and Tris' shadows.
Top international reviews
The plot itself, is predictable, slow moving and quite frankly boring, taking a good quarter of the book for anything to actually happen, and the middle of the book being entirely pointless. The characters on the other hand are even worse. The heroin, Mare, has such a hero complex it is actually painful to read. Not only does she elevate herself above the silvers based on her red blood (hypocritical as blood is the reason silvers elevate themselves in the society, and what causes Mare to hate them in the first place) but she also appears to think that the entire world revolves around her. I honestly have not detested a character this much for a very long time - it got to the point that within the second book I was agreeing with the opinions of the characters who are clearly meant to be enemies: Mare is nothing but a brat. The other main characters within this book, of Cal and Maven, are rather likeable in comparison; odd considering Maven reminded me slightly of a young Prince Joffrey from Game of Thrones. I truly wish there was more character development by both of these, other than the wholly predictable revelation of which brother is good and which is bad. Similarly the plot twist, of which the prior revel concerns, is utterly useless. It was obvious that a certain characters death was meant to be heartbreaking, but quite honestly I was more upset that the author didn't take the time to kill of Mare.
Overall, a good concept, but really not worth the read if you actually want to like any of the characters that you are reading about.
The Red Queen positions itself in quite a different groove. It is a story about Mare, who is a Red, and her struggles when she is elevated to the position of faux-Silver. In binary terms, a Red is someone without magical powers, a class of downtrodden by the magical Silvers. But Mare is actually magical herself – a quirk of genetics – and hence she is smothered as a faux-Silver to hide this anomaly. But Mare stays true to her red blood: cue rebellion, revolution, and all sorts of fun.
One of my favourite things about this book is the environment in which it is set. Most of the time it feels like we’re walking through a classic fantasy environment – perhaps a touch more renaissance than usual, but still. At times though, we are sent spinning by the existence of TV screens, security cameras, and other modern devices. It’s a really cleverly woven environment, and when we approach the capital city, the imagining really steps another level. Some of the ideas are brilliant, and I enjoyed my time in this fantasy world greatly.
This is also a really well written book, with very few mistakes, a nice flow, and a certain ‘page-turner’ quality. It is written in fist-person (which is not my favourite), but it is done pretty well and I enjoyed the story nonetheless. Mare is an easy-to-get-on-with lead character, and she is supported by a great cast of other characters too. All in all, a really comfortable read.
But comfortable does not imply leisurely. Oh no. This is a well-paced novel with twists and turns coming in all the right places. The ending in particular is very nice, with a great warping of events, and some really emotive scenes. This is nicely setup for the rest of the series.
So, was there anything about this that I didn’t get on with? Well, the use of first-person was quite annoying (personally speaking). I think there are a few things about first person that are frustrating, the worst being that it is sometimes hard to catch where an inner-monologue ends and where speech starts. The other thing that first-person does is to lend itself to more substantial inner-dialogue, and this can get a bit cumbersome at times. Overall this book certainly works, but I would personally have preferred a different perspective.
In terms of story, there are probably only a couple of things that I didn’t get on with. There is one particular scene that sticks out, where Mare elopes with another key character in something of an ‘easy rider’ style. It was all a bit indulgent, and the slightly ‘50’s taste of the scene was just really out of place compared to the rest of the book. If they’d gone on horseback, maybe this would have settled nicer.
And finally, some of the revolutionary planning that is cooked up is wildly juvenile. The romantic in me would like to believe that the plan ever had a chance, but it’s one battle where the head doesn’t need to work very hard to quash the heart’s over-optimistic nature. To pin a plan of that size on an act which is so volatile is surely crazy, and that fact is catching. It didn’t ruin the story, but hey. Hopefully Mare learns from that fanciful mistake.
But overall this is a great book – well worth a read. It has all the right ingredients and is well executed, with flashes of beauty. This looks to be an extensive series, and you can be sure that I’ll be reading on!
The love triangle is boring and frustrating, most of the time wondering why our heroine has been written to fawn over certain lazily-written characters who are at best irritatingly privileged and at worst complicit in her family's devastation.
Entertaining but forgettable.
Learning about all of the powers that the silvers can possess was by far my favourite aspect of this book. There were so many different abilities, those who can work with water, fire, metal whereas others had super strength and speed. What I loved even more was the different subgroups within those powers and the clever names the author gave them which was really fun.
Mare was easy to like as she was strong, passionate, loyal and actually thought before she acted. I really enjoyed reading about Mare's relationship with her family, it was lovely and really isn't done so well in other fantasy books without feeling out of place. The beauty of family relationships was also displayed nicely in Cal and Mavens brotherly bond.
The ending of this book was crazy good, like I was so certain that the plot was heading in a particular direction, that I was completely blindsided by that revelation. It really broke my heart as I'd really loved that character, but it made for great reading. You have no idea how excited I am to pick up the next book.
Victoria managed to grip me from page one, it's a rare thing for me, normally it takes a couple of chapters for me to get hooked, but I've been struggling to put it down since picking it up.
Red Queen is the kind of book you are eager to finish to see how the story unfolds, yet you don't want to read it at all because you don't want it to end.
The characters, the plot, the divide between Reds and Silvers, I loved every single moment. I didn't always agree with Mare, sometimes I screamed at the book, calling her an idiot, but I love her and her telling of this gripping story.
I loved Maven, don't even get me started.
Cal was confusing, one moment I wanted to hug him, the next I wanted to strangle him.
Julian, Lucas, Kilorn, there's just so many characters that stand out for various different reasons.
The twist in this story will boil your blood, I sat reading the same few lines over and over hoping they'd change.
I highly recommend this book.
Here is one of my many favourite extracts from Red Queen;
“For hundreds of years the Silvers have walked the earth as living gods and the Reds have been slaves at their feet, until you. If that isn't change, I don't know what is.”
The only reason this novel falls short of a glowing 5 star review, for me is because of my biggest pet peeve in published books, typo errors. I only noticed two throughout my read, but there shouldn't be any. It disrupts my flow of reading and really puts me off.
That being said I cannot wait to get my hands on Glass Sword and I will look out for future works by Victoria Aveyard.
Not so with Red Queen. She loves it, can't put it down...I even had to take it off her one night so she would go to sleep! So, hats off to you, Victoria Aveyard! Maybe this will be the start of getting her into books!
I enjoyed this book but as with all books that end up going on and on with different versions of the original story I find I can't be bothered to wait for the sequel. In this case the sequel had already been written (but I didn't notice when I bought this) but I'm sure that there is a sequel to the sequel that hasn't yet been written. Although it was fun I want to move on to something else now and shan't be reading the next in the series.
Mare Barrow is coming up to her 18th birthday, which means she's coming up for Conscription - being sent to join the army on the front line. She comes from a poor town, with villagers working themselves into the ground just to pay the rent. These people are the Reds. They are ruled by the Silvers. The royals. The gifted. For those of you who have read "Red Rising", keep reading, I know it sounds suspicious! The Silvers have special abilities coded by their genetics. Some are earth wielders, some can manipulate fire, some water, others metals. Which is all fabulous. But the Reds are powerless against them. That is until now. You see Mare is different, she is a Red, she bleeds Red, she lives in the Red towns, but something about her makes her less Red than the rest.
A turn of events finds Mare working for the Silvers as a servant (read, waitress). A further crazy turn of events finds her pretending to be a Silver. A Silver princess promised to a Silver prince no less. I know - Red Rising again? Swap the word "Silver" for "Gold" and you've got all the makings of the same book. I've read both now, and they are genuinely very different books but I have to highlight the numerous similarities to those of you wanting something really different.
I enjoyed quite a few of the concepts from this debut. I loved Aveyard's representation of abilities. It was really exciting to get to see the various abilities in action and to almost have a heirarchy within the Silver community based on which ability you had an affinity for. I thought this was pretty well developed and nicely linked to genetics. It's interesting to have an author show that even the "important" characters with power still were deemed less than those with better abilities - Silvers within the court being made into Servants despite their abilities is a new take on things which was a particular selling point for this book. How nice is it to see that it's not just as simple as Silvers versus Reds, rich versus poor, ability versus not but actually everyone has the potential to betray anyone.
Sadly, the characters seemed a little flat for me sometimes, even the love triangle/square didn't sell them to me and I didn't really favour any of the boys to be honest. I found Mare, our leading lady, difficult to mesh with initially because she's quite self-deprecating. I don't know about you guys, but I just like to see strong, fiery characters even when they have come from a tough background. There was very little fire in Mare for a good portion of the book, but equally, as the story progressed so did her character enormously and I'm confident the next book in the series, The Glass Sword, will be like reading an entirely different perspective from Mare. She became much more opinionated, much more passionate and far less annoying.
I really enjoyed the world building; although I don't think it's as beautifully written as some of the more established books of this genre at the moment, I do think it packed a nice punch and I really enjoyed the archaic world that Aveyard created. It has to be said that Aveyard has actually managed to separate this similar world of poverty versus the rich from the norm by throwing in older concepts such as civil wars and the royals. I especially enjoyed reading about the corruption of the crown. Julian, a favourite character of mine, sold the book for me in places and he was used fantastically to show the secret lives of the royals with some interesting back stories.
I really wanted a unique read. I don't think this was that, but despite some of the similarities, this novel stands alone as an exciting novel full of twists and turns. I honestly didn't expect a lot of the plot twists towards the end and, having read so many books of this kind, that was a nice surprise and probably the reason I'm sticking around for book 2. Aveyard's screen writing background does shine through and the book flows beautifully from one action scene to the next. Sadly some of the character building fell away but hopefully things will develop further into the next book. I recommend to those of you looking for a book to keep you on your toes, but I don't think this will be the next book series to steal our hearts this year. This book really just runs so closely to books like "Red Rising", "The Selection" and "Throne of Glass" when some of these books have made a massive impact on readers recently
The concept was nice, but the execution poor.
Some of the (many) elements that bugged me:
- One dimensional characters that are caricatures of themselves. Also suffer random changes in emotion that leave me wondering whether they are schizophrenic.
- Inexplicable Instalove (barf) x 2 (barf barf)
- Everyone inexplicably falling in love/like with the heroine - she came across as bratty, sullen and unattractive. Why I really struggled to understand why the male leads were falling all over her. And 'they all love her so she must have some redeeming features that we're not getting' just doesn't float it for me.
- People doing stupid stuff that is completely out of character. All the time. Whatever I don't care anymore (this was about 3/4 of the way through)
I would recommend this book to anyone. I might also recommend Diana Rowland's excellent Demon series (and the AWESOME Zombie series, really!). The Ilona Andrews Magic series is my favourite of all time. You haven't lived until you've read a few of those. I'm eagerly awaiting the latest. The Black Jewels trilogy by Ann Bishop is decent although it trails a bit right at the very end. I love the Angel trilogy by susan Ee which was pretty amazing. And I might throw in the Daughter of the Empire trilogy by janny Wurts for good measure. All solid authors and solid stories.
Mare Barrow, a Red commoner from the Stilts, is brought before the people that she hates most in a cruel twist of fate that brings her into the façade of a Silver noble, a daughter of a dead war hero and a murdered mother. Her ability, one that allows her to both manipulate and manifest electricity, is one that must stay hidden. Betrothed to the kingdom's youngest prince, she uses her new found position to bring down the regime; from the inside.
Instead of 'Graceling meets the Selection' I feel it should more be compared to the Throne of Glass series, with it's hierarchy of kings, queens, princes and nobles. The one thing I didn't like about this book was the technology and media aspect that mixed its way through the medieval feel of the book. I know that electricity had to be a part of the book, I just felt like that was done in the wrong way.
Love triangles, raging war, sassy characters and an awesome plot made the book just as good as I expected. Mare was well developed and brilliant as a character with a sharp tongue and an even sharper mind. Also the plot twist was pretty damn good!