Young Adult Fantasy
Red Queen Book #1
Published by Harper Teen (10th February 2015)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Either you’re red, or you’re silver, but never both. Silvers are the high class, wealthy, healthy and generally born with abilities; Reds are the low class, they live in slums, are conscripted into the war to fight for the Silvers, can barely afford to survive, they are the slaves. Mare is almost of age, she is without an occupation, therefore, will be conscripted into the war. Until, as luck would have it, she meets a kind stranger one night while pick-pocketing drunks. Soon after she is called to the palace. What follows turns the world as everyone knows it on it’s head. Mare is Red, but she has an ability. In order to control her, the King and Queen paint her up like a Silver and betroth her to their son. Mare must now navigate this strange, sickening world that she wants no part of, in order to survive. She soon discovers that the war and the rebels are hiding something much deeper than she first thought, and she is a pawn in the game. She must learn that anyone can betray anyone, no one is safe.
I’ve had this book sitting in my TBR pile honestly for about 4 – 5 years now. It’s one of those books that I spied the cover across the room in Big W and it just drew me in. The story had an interesting premise as well, so I was sold. I’ve read a few reviews that compare this book (almost in copyright infringement ways) to another book called Red Rising, however, I’ve not read this book so I can’t comment. I enjoyed this a lot but it didn’t leave me with that great book tingle that I get after really amazing reads, I also felt that the pacing began to lack a bit and that the story was being unnecessarily dragged out near the end, hence the four star rating.
Mare is an interesting character, and I actually enjoyed her quite a lot. She’s had a rough go at life, being born into servitude essentially, with her brothers being sent off to fight in the war, her father disabled from fighting in said war, and her sister the only one out of all of them giving the family any hope of surviving. This didn’t make Mare a whiny, woe-is-me character though, which is what I liked about her. She struggles visibly while pretending to be a long lost Silver Princess, but I feel that anyone in her position would have been the same. She has to pretend to sympathise with these people that she despises, and pretend that they are good and just and doing the right thing, when in fact, she blames them for the life she’s had to live. The Princes were exceptionally well written, and I must admit, I enjoyed Maven’s character a lot more than I initially thought that I would. His character has so much depth that you could almost drown in it. Cal annoyed me a lot, but it was neither here nor there, I just didn’t connect with him like I think I was supposed to. Aveyard did a fantastic job of writing the different classes, the Silvers filled with entitlement, and the Reds filled with anger, she just made it sing.
The story was actually really well paced and a fairly quick read. I’d definitely call it a page turner because that’s exactly what it made me do. It kept me glued to the story because I just HAD to know what happened next. I didn’t find the story predictable as such, and when stuff happens towards the end, I was actually surprised, I had no idea what was going to happen. Okay, yes, some of the smaller things I think I could see what was coming, but as for the big things, Oh boy…nope…had no idea! As mentioned above, I did find that in the last 5 odd chapters, the pacing felt like it dropped a bit and it felt like the story was being dragged out when it really didn’t need to be, but other than that, the story was riveting and kept me guessing.
The world building wasn’t over the top, I still find that I’m having a bit of trouble trying to place the world though, if that makes sense? It’s obviously a fantasy world (duh), where there are upper and lower classes, servitude is a thing, but the world does run off electricity. There’s mention of King Caesar, which I’m quite curious to know whether it was referencing THAT Caesar, I feel like it was. So it’s almost as though some parts of real world history were used as a basis for the world, but it was it’s own world. Wow, I’m making no sense at all hahahahaha. I guess the short of it is, the world was interesting and I’m interested to know more about how it works. It had the feeling of a dystopian world, one that came after what is now, but I’m not a hundred percent sure that that is correct, hence the comment above about taking parts of real world history to build this new other world. There’s no info dumping which is great, and I feel that there’s still a lot we can discover about the world this story is set in, in the coming instalments.
There is a love triangle in this story, but it’s not the insta-love annoying teenage ‘love’ that I tend to dislike. It’s actually plausible and workable and it really drives the story. This is a young adult romance set to the back drop of political unrest and a society rebelling, plus things happening that shouldn’t be in regard to Reds having abilities. I feel like everything was balanced quite well and I’m seriously interested to see what happens next. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it, honestly. I’ve already bought the second book in the series so will definitely be continuing on.