I really wanted to love this one, I really did. It’s got a gorgeous cover and an intriguing concept, but about 75% through, I almost put it down.
Red Queen suffers from an identity issue. The marketing of the book bills it as “Graceling meet The Selection,” and they aren’t wrong. This book is what you would get if you threw the “hot YA” novels into a blender to get the perfect book. It never seemed to be able to commit to a genre. Was it fantasy? Was it dystopian? Was it supernatural? I can’t say it was unoriginal, but it blended so many common tropes from hit novels that I couldn’t help but be left a little disappointed.
In the Red Queen, Mare Barrow lives in a world segregated by the color of your blood. Those with Silver blood have special abilities and hold all the power over the subservient, non-magical people with Red blood. Mare, a Red blood, ends up in the royal court, where an accident ends up giving her the abilities of a Silver. She must give up all she knows when she’s order by the King to play the part of a Silver. Mare experiences as a Red makes her dislike the Silvers, and despite the fact that’s she masquerading as one, she gets drawn into the workings of the Scarlet Guard, an organization of Reds leading a rebellion against the Silvers.
The identity issue in this book affected my ability to really understand this world that Mare lives in. Was it more a dystopian society with a totalitarian government that punished the Red and raises up the Silvers, or was it a kingdom with magic that was ruled by a corrupt King? There was so much potential, but too much was going on. It was as if Mare’s world was supposed to be this perfect blend of all the dystopian and oppressive governments in YA fiction.
I wish I could say that characters were what redeemed this book for me, but unfortunately, they never felt fully developed. Mare Barrow wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before, and her character never really seemed to grow based on what happens to her. I really liked her in the beginning and the very, very end, but for the whole middle she was very blah. It felt as if Victoria Aveyard only just scratched the surface of who Mare really is rather than fully fleshed her out. Also, I never felt as if I really understood her motivations; the ones provided felt superficial at best. The other character also suffered from a lack of development, fading into the background even when they were fairly prominent player. I just wish each character was a bit more fleshed out and had a bit more oomph to their personalities.
As expected, there is romance in this book and yes, there are multiple love interests. But, it is not so much a love triangle as a love square in this book. I didn’t buy much of the romance, but I think that stems from my issues with the character development. I’m actually really interested to see what happens with the romance in the next book, as the ending of this book changes Mare’s perception of a lot of the guys. Hopefully, the next book does something interesting with this development and actually makes me feel something of romantic sparks between Mare and one of the guys.
The giant twist in this book didn’t shock me at all; it was all very predictable and you could see it coming from a mile away. Mare, however, couldn’t, and I literally yelled at the book calling her an idiot at one point because she was so blindsided. However, despite that fact, I did end up loving the ending. This was one of those books where a bunch of stuff happened in the beginning and the end, but nothing noteworthy in the middle. Despite that, the end sequence really redeemed this book for me; I just wished that the whole book could have been like the last 80 pages. The ending was fast-paced, action-packed, and filled with Mare being pretty badass. I’ll probably check out the next book because of that ending.
I’m intrigued enough to check out the next book, but this book ultimately fell flat for me. This book doesn’t stand out. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either. If you want a book that takes some of the best parts from The Selection, the Hunger Games and Graceling, then you will love this book. But, I just wished for something a bit more new.