In Red Queen Mare Barrow lives in a world divided by the colour of blood. She’s a Red, a member of the suppressed working class, enslaved by the Silvers, who rule through super-human like powers. Mare escapes conscription into the army but falls into a very different sort of life. In front of assembled Silver royalty she discovers that she has powers of her own. She’s passed off as a lost Silver princess and betrothed to one of the king’s sons. While she does her best to navigate a court full of people who think the life she lived until now was worthless, she starts working for the Scarlet Guard, a Red rebellion out to change the world, and has to discover that anyone can betray anyone.
I really loved the world building in this novel, it drew me in from the start with the way it combines elements from dystopian fiction with fantasy. Aveyard creates a fascinating world that takes from both genres, and seems stuck somewhere between levels of industrialisation as we know them from our own world and much further developed technology. At the same time she manages to bring just enough elements into that made me question if it really is a fantasy world of if it could maybe be a much changed futuristic version of Earth. It managed to dance right at the edge of being familiar (and maybe even a logical “after” to a post-apocalyptic Earth) and being original.
I managed to spoil a major plot twist for myself, so I ended up being not exactly surprised when I got to it. But overall the story was after my heart, I just love stories that make me question everything and everyone, and then in the end show me all the way in which the main character was deceived, and this one in such a clever way. Obviously I personally gathered clues along the way, which kind of made a few things really obvious to me, but if I hadn’t known about the major plot twist, I don’t think I would have had such an easy time puzzling it all out.
I am very very torn on the characters. On one hand there were lots of relatable characters and characters that I could empathize with. But after a while it becomes very obvious that the only three dimensional characters in the story are male. Mare herself is the only three dimensional female character, the others are broken down to stereotypes. Elara is a straight up tyrant; Evangeline is nothing more than an entitled bitch, even Mare’s sister Gisa is barely more than the nice little sister. Furthermore, there is no female character who has any sort of positive relationship with Mare, or even gets enough screen time to be able to build a real relationship with her. I’m sorry, but that just does. not. cut. it. at. all. We’re in 2016, we have to be able to do better than that.
I’m also skeptical of the romance subplot. I’m fine with romance, I can even life with a well done love triangle, but this book just completely overdid it. The answer to “Love triangles are overdone” is not to add a fourth character. Not to mention that Kilorn suddenly admitting to feelings for Mare came out of nowhere and had really no emotional basis for me at all. I am also so very done with romances between female MCs and their male childhood best friends. Once again, it’s 2016, can we just finally admit that not every friendship between a girl and a boy ends in romantic feelings? Girls and boys, and women and men can be “just” friends, just stop constantly turning it into a love story.
★★★★☆ (4 Stars)
Publication Date: 10 February 2015
Page Count: 383
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopia,
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.