Monday, 27 April 2015

Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Teen, Fantasy
Type: Hardcover
Series: 1st book in the Red Queen series
Source: Local Public Library
Pages: 320
Publisher: Orion
First Published: February 10, 2015
First Line: "I hate First Friday."

Book Description from GoodReadsThe poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

My Review:  I admittedly have gotten a little blase about YA dystopian books because I went through a period of reading too many of them in a short space of time.  But after again being strongly encouraged by a 17 year old Shelver at the library where I work (she's given some great recommendations in the past) I decided to try Red Queen.  I'm happy to report that I really enjoyed it. 

Readers of the YA dystopian genre will definitely see some similar themes from other popular series.  There's strong similarities to The Hunger Games and Red Rising and a little Divergent thrown in for good measure.  That said, Red Queen held its own and gave its unique twist on a the blood feud, fighting thang.

Red Queen is set in a world where a person's blood type (either red or silver) determines their status in society with the silver blooded Royals holding all of the power.  The Royals each have a unique power which could include being able to control metal, speed, reading minds, control water or air etc as long as their element is near them to manipulate.  Then there's the lowly red blooded population who are used as soldiers and workers to pad the coffers of the Silvers.  It doesn't make for a happy society.

The main character, Mare is a Red whose only future is to be conscripted into the army to fight an on-going 100 year war with a neighbouring country.  When her best friend Kilhorn is going to be conscripted she takes a risk in order to save him but suddenly she finds herself thrown into the world of the Silvers.  When knowledge of her unique powers surfaces (which is even a surprise to Mare) it throws a wrench in the Royals' plans who will do anything to keep this information from reaching the masses especially as a new rebellion is brewing with the Scarlet Guard at the helm.

This was a book that pretty much grabbed me from the beginning but there were, admittedly, some inconsistencies and situations that didn't sit well with me.  For example, I had to wonder why these Silvers didn't just use their awesome powers to end this long running war. Why use Reds as soldiers who die easily when you could read the minds of the other army and annihilate them by sending a cyclone or drowning the lot of them?  And if I'm being picky I truly hated Maven's name.  It sounded so feminine that I had a hard time picturing him in a romantic way with one of the female characters.  It may be a petty comment but it really did distract me and when the author has carte blanche to choose names I just wonder why she chose that one.

If you let these inconsistencies take over you may not enjoy the book.  I chose to go with the flow and read the book for what it was - a good story with some strong, memorable characters and good twists.  Mare is a solid main character with a strong sense of right and wrong so it was easy to get behind her.  There is a romantic element to the story and even a love triangle (possibly a quadrangle) of sorts but it isn't the focus of the story and I liked that the action took the front seat for this first book. There were also a few twists -- some I saw coming and others I was happily surprised to read - that kept the pace of this book steady.  The last quarter of the book is filled with action and for those who are a bit squeamish there are quite a few rather violent actions scenes.

Overall, I really enjoyed this debut novel. While it borrows some themes from other popular YA books it definitely stands on it's own with it's unique twists and plot.  With a major cliffhanger at the end of this first book in the series you'll want to pick up the next book.  And, you have to admit, it's got a great cover.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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