REVIEW: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

17878931AUTHOR: Victoria Aveyard

PUBLISHER: Orion

DATE PUBLISHED: February 10, 2015

OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads): 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…

First, I want to thank Windie @ Geek Apprentice for an html tutorial that allowed me to slightly revamp my blog graphics. *Japanese bow*

 I’m solely basing my reason of picking up this book on the fact that Red Queen appears on many book tag entries. Bloggers had different reactions toward this. Hence, my curiousity.

WARNING: Not spoiler-proof!


 

Writing Style

With Red Queen being Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel, I can tell her writing career is well underway. I could easily slip into her world through her comparatively sleek writing style (being a debut as the point of reference). She has a habit of portraying a scene with straightforward words and that’s a plus. At several points though, I had to reread from two paragraphs ago when I don’t get how a particular situation turned up like that. Like there’s a hop in the plot. Call this an unpopular opinion but really, do I have to go over the texts again and again to fully comprehend what’s happening? It’s like feeling bewildered whether you missed a point or it was just obscurely written.

Theme

Red Queen is a book about revolution and oppression, trusting and betraying, love and hatred, political warfare all in connection with jealousy and hunger for power. There’s hierarchy within a hierarchy which is a mirror of what our social triangle is like. You can either be at the tip of the wealthiest or the base of the destitute or reside somewhere in between. Families fight each other for sovereignty and let’s face it, in reality, such a thing exists for diverse justifications.

Their fights were all driven by their egotistical reasons. The queen desires for supreme power. The Scarlet Guard wants to overthrow the existing tyrants then what? Rule for themselves?

For obvious reasons, this is a fantasy book. Hundreds before me have pointed out how this is an amalgam of different YA fantasy and alas, I am with them. Aristocracies oppressing the impoverished? Protagonist acting as a rebellious puppet of those in power? Suzanne Collins already made a living out of that. Woman with incredible undiscovered powers? Sounds like Tris, the Divergent, to me. A walking magnetic field for boys? Celaena Sardothien, you have a contender. I appreciate Aveyard’s effort in trying to dress her fantasy elements in a different outfit but strip them naked, it all boils down to being a hackneyed item. Which brings me to question whether or not she’s an apprentice of these authors prior to this.

There’s relative ease in catching up with Aveyard’s fantasy design mainly attributed to the fact that I’ve seen it all played out before. Reds shedding red blood, and Silvers, silver blood. The former does not possess extraordinary power while the latter does. The proper names that’s hard to keep up with, names of places to be exact. Equating this in the context of Harry Potter, a reader quickly memorizes Hogsmeade, Privet Drive, Room of Requirement, Godric’s Hollow, etc. as essential places because they’re mentioned repeatedly. (It wonders me how Aveyard didn’t opt to steal a version from HP being the golden standard and all) If truth be told, there’s not a place in Red Queen that surfaces on my mind at this point, except maybe the glass castle. BOTTOMLINE: It’s not that type fantasy that sticks to mind.  

Despite being an absolute prototype, what fantasy Aveyard promised her readers, she fulfilled it. Let’s give her that credit. I like how practically everything revolves around the fantasy hub. There’s romance occasionally brewing between Mare and her boys but they were represented just as supplements.

Speaking of romance, don’t get me started on yet another classic, I-knew-this-would-happen insta-love between Cal and Mare. How does one night of stealing and talking and pitying and lashing out of anger lead to a prince getting head over heels in love? Call me an old lady in declaring all these contraventional but will we just accept all YA books to embrace on-the-spot love? 

There’s a love quadrangle existing between Mare, Cal, Maven, and Kilorn. Don’t be surprised. This is an archetype trademark of YA and Aveyard just didn’t dare bend the rules.

Plot

Red Queen’s plot was basically dynamic. The story follows Mare’s career of beguiling people from professional thieving to acting out like a bona fide silver in front of audiences. The pages, approximately around 400, were decently utilized. The chronicle of events was hooking. With all the pessimistic reviews this book met, this reaction came out as a surprise for me. Needless to say, the plot was my favorite.

The progress of the plot had me rooting for heroes. I was smacked in the face when I realized I picked up the wrong guy. That twist was just the peak of events for me. Everybody else says they saw it coming but for me it was completely shadowed. For this factor – just this factor – I’m allowing Aveyard to take credit for this fresh idea. Slightly leaning towards Dan Brown’s style but still (DISCLAIMER: My sole basis for this conclusion only lies on the books I read).

 

Characters

If there’s one thing commendable about Red Queen, it is having an excellent character development.

Let’s start with Mare. From where she started as a professional thief, she went a long mile to becoming the so-called “Red Queen”. She’s strong-willed and principled but I wasn’t awed. Hermione Granger got there first. Katniss Everdeen seconded it. There might even be a herd who came even before these two. Still, I am fond of authors upthrusting women’s personality and eradicating social constructs in their story because we need more of such for enlightenment especially first time readers. This might be my nth encounter to a strong female character but there are millions still who haven’t yet.

Cal, on the other hand, is a morally ambiguous character. I like how he’s ethical but not too much, a law-abider but is still willing to be a rule-breaker when the situation calls for one. In other words, he’s imperfect. He has weaknesses. He’s human.

For some reasons, it is with Maven where I feel Aveyard invested a lot of effort in terms of development. I felt it. The authenticity. His care. There were hints but I thought they were merely red herrings. I was pining for him until that unforeseen “turn” of events. For the record, when I pick my heroes, they undergo a meticulous screening so I didn’t just decide on them impulsively. That twist punched me and thank heavens it did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bequeathed this book another star.

What about the villains? The Queen might be a smart scheming bitch but her personality had loopholes. If they were so terrorized with Mare, red-blooded possessing powers only fated to the silvers, why still keep her alive? Why give her training and let her assimilate the skills innate in her? This was a muddled issue for me especially until I learned that all Reds similar to Mare have been exterminated by the government. And let’s not forget the tremendously essential role (sarcasm intended) of Evangeline. Given her extreme closeness with her brother, I was on the verge of adding Game of Thrones on Aveyard’s long list of reference to this book – appertaining to Cersei and Jaime’s incestuous affair. But yeah, there’s still the second book to prove that. For now, Evangeline’s a Regina George, the unnecessary mean girl that carried out the supplemental role of constantly reminding Mare she’s the bad apple. Apart from her bitterness, there’s no actual exposition where her anger’s welling from. It’s definitely not envy since she mined the jackpot and Mare just grabbed second runner-up.


See you on  TWITTER @thebookgasm|  GOODREADS @ Trisha Ann

 

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22 comments

  1. Dangg Trisha, another awesome review. I definitely think that however trite Red Queen was, there were certainly twists that made up for it! Halfway through the book I stopped caring about the romance because gahh at that point I didn’t care who ended up with Mare. (I also had issues with her name… female horse… 😛 )
    The latter half of the book was why I gave it the same rating you did – if not for that, then the banal plot and special snowflake character would have kept it at a 2 star haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww thanks Aila! LOL I laughed at that. I saw your review on Goodreads and that photo of a mare just sent me hollering in laughter.

      Yeah! Thank god for that twist! I would think it’s plainly a copycat if not for it.

      Like

  2. Trisha, I’m glad that you enjoy it more than me!
    Like you, I didn’t see the twist happening. It’s one of the biggest redeeming factor for me. Without that, I probably wouldn’t give its sequel a chance.

    And glad to know the html works. 😀

    Like

    • OMG Windie! I’m having fun exploring this html thing! Looks like my proceeding posts will have a lot of this style LOL.

      I will pick up Glass Sword too. Hopefully, Victoria Aveyard learned from this book’s negative feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is fun, isn’t it? And there are so many things to try out. I’m still planning to write that html tricks post, but life is getting in the way at the moment.

        I hope so! Now that she’s no longer debut author with everything at stakes, maybe she’ll try to experiment a bit and lessen the amount of popular YA tropes she borrow. Here’s hoping a certain character gets a chance for redemption.

        Like

      • It is! I’m looking forward to that! No pressures though. I’m searching for some on the net but when I try them, they just fail! *Sigh*

        AND YES FINGERS CROSSED ON GLASS SWORD.

        Like

      • I think it’s because most of tutorials assume that we have access to modify the CSS (stylesheet) file, which wasn’t allowed in free wp version so all the styling has to be done inline with the html.
        Try putting them in between the style=””
        e.g., paragraph text to style the paragraph.

        Like

  3. I am SO glad I wasn’t the only one who was completely, utterly shocked by the plot twist and the things surrounding Maven. I was so invested in Maven’s character, almost all my positive feelings leaned towards him for the majority of this story.
    And as for all your other points and thoughts, you hit spot on with my own thoughts on the novel! Great review.

    Like

    • Thank you Josie! I’m glad you’re in the boat too! I was rooting for Maven the whole time because I can feel his true feelings more than Cal. That twist really hit me! It’s the chief (or maybe the only) reason why I’m giving Glass Sword a try!. LD

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the spoiler free review, I only read two chapters of Red Queen and I was a bit hesitant to continue with it because it sounded the same as any other fantasy novel. I might give it another shot though, just to find out what this twist is all about! 🙂

    Like

  5. Loved your review… I glad to hear someone calling out on this book being a not-so-amazing fantasy novel. But as you said this book is widely popular and I would have regretted not reading it. Guilty as charged, I still might give her latest book a try

    Like

    • Oh hey! Haven’t seen you in a while!

      Thank you thank you! Ikr?! I read it bc a lot of people did and I had to see for myself if what negative feedbacks they said were true. Yes yes Glass Sword is still a must-try. Hopefully, Aveyard learned her lessons then! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Omg Trisha, I had a dream that I replied to this but erm… it looks like it was a dream! Now trying to remember what I said in my reply in said dream, hahaha!

    Hahahaha I love your review so much and agree with almost everything. And yet, I loved it. I think I said to Windie that I love this book like one would love eating a tub of ice cream to yourself. X’D I’m excited for Glass Sword, but am apprehensive that it’ll destroy my already-fragile-yet-vehement love for this series.

    Like

    • LOL! You had me laughing there. I feel so so flattered my blog’s featured in your dream. Haha!

      Anyway, thank you, CW! That comparison is just on point. Delicious but sinful! No matter how much negative stuff I put here, I will still be picking up the next biik. And that twist! I need more face-smacking twist on Glass Sword!! XD

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So I’ve heard that this is one of those where it’s uber gripping and enjoyable, yet remains to be unmemorable because the plot and other elements are very similar to other ya fantasy novels that precede it. Very informative review though, Trisha! I was pretty set on not ever reading this book after reading Joey’s review, but then I read Chooi’s and Aentee’s (and now yours) and wondered if I should give it a go anyway. Well now I have a copy because Victoria was at Yallfest so I’ll read it eventually hopefully! 🙂

    Like

    • Yeah I read Joey’s (funny satirical) review too and I must say I agree to most points he raised (like how it’s an absolute copy) but unlike him, there’s a part of this book I didn’t see coming which made me a little generous on my rating. And, like CW, I find it hooking still. Give it a try, Summer. Maybe you’ll have different view on it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was nodding like crazy to your whole review, what drew me to this book was the Cover i hadn’t even read the synospis , I DNFED this book but i think i will give it a second try.

    Like

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