Jan 22, 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

TitleRed Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: February 10, 2015
Pages/Format: 400, eARC
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Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Book in One Word: WTF?!

When everyone first heard about Red Queen, there seemed to be a lot of OH-MY-GOSH-GIVE-IT-TO-ME-NOWs. I was definitely interested in the book--and very intrigued by the idea of people being separated by their blood--but I wasn't ever really into the hype or needing this book. (This also happened with Dorothy Must Die, and that didn't go too well.) But I wanted to see what the hype was all about, and some reviews were excellent, so I read Red Queen and hoped to be wowed. I don't think the hype hurt it; it was the book itself.

I liked Red Queen. I did. The first twenty percent was rough--I thought about setting it aside, but wanted to see where the story would go--but the book wasn't bad. It just wasn't...well, lovable. The writing wasn't my favorite, and neither were the characters. And my gosh, this book was filled with cliches and predictability. I just knew it was going to use the "I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding" line, and it totally did. And Mare's internal dialogue was kind of distracting, and my gosh, she is a total repeat offender. She's constantly worrying about the same things and has to point that this or that could be the last something for her or someone else: I might never see my family again; that might be my last meal; that might be the last time he'll listen to so-and-so; blah blah blah. It was kind of annoying, in case you couldn't tell. And I kind of felt like I'd read this before. I'd be reminded of The Hunger Games, The Selection, and Divergent series a little too closely. And, I kid you not, there was a line about a revolution beginning with a spark, WHICH IS TOTALLY TAKEN.

As I said, Red Queen was somewhat predictable--UNTIL IT TOTALLY WASN'T. The last, oh, fifteen percent was just WHAT WHAT WHAT. A certain THING happened (if you've read the book, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about) and I basically threw a fit. I really, really wanted to throw my Kindle, which is not the best idea. I just--HOLY CRAP. I didn't see that coming AT ALL and I just ahhhhhhhhhhh. And then there was this scene--let's call it a fight scene, or the finale, or whatever--and it was totally cool and epic. It would be superb in a movie. The last fifteen percent of this book probably bumped my Goodreads rating and overall impression of this book up half a star because of that stupid thing that happened and made me not want to finish the book because WHY, PLOT TWIST, WHY?

What made Red Queen somewhat original was that it's set in a world divided, for the most part, by the upper class and the lower class. The lower class are Red bloods and that's just about it. The upper class, on the other hand, have Silver blood, as well as powers: the ability to get in people's minds, control minds, water bending, metal bending, and so on. It's actually pretty cool. And then there's Mare, who (I don't think is a spoiler, because it's basically in the synopsis, but if you want you can skip to the next paragraph) has Red blood...but power like a Silver blood. The royals try to cover it up, but, as books go, it's never that easy.

There wasn't really anything I loved about this novel--except for, okay, maybe the excellent reaction I had to the WTF scene and the grand finale. The characters were okay. Mare wasn't bad, or necessarily annoying, but she really needed to work on her internal dialogue and all that jazz. There maaay be a slight bit of a love triangle or square or something--I won't tell you, because spoilers--but I'll say that I was never really SHIPPING it, and felt that any romance lacked development. Like, if something happened--for example: two lips meeting--I'd internally be all, "Yesss, romance!" but also wondering when things went from non-romantical to romantical. And it was one of those ships where I didn't want either guy to lose because I'd feel bad, but, well, I just....I'll stop. (Also, what's up with the guard? I heard he could be a potential ship, but how old is he?!) The royals were, well, royals, and the King and Queen weren't the nicest. And Evangeline was a total bitch, and I wouldn't mind her dying at all. But there were plot twists--PLOT TWIST--and some rebels were afoot, which was interesting.

It may sound kind of like I'm bashing Red Queen, but remember what I said at the beginning? I liked it. I didn't really, really like it or anything. But I didn't dislike it. It was just sort of frustrating and a bit of a disappointment, and some of the execution was poor. This had serious potential, but the predictability, cliches, repetition, and writing, plus a few other factors, just weren't my favorite and didn't work for me. And I don't know if it's a good thing that the best part of the book was probably the last fifteen percent. I do, however, really want that sequel. The THING THAT HAPPENED and the kickass finale/fight scene have me sold. I just hope the sequel is better, and that this trilogy improves with each book. The whole concept is interesting, and it'd be a bummer if this ended up being one of those series I read and just feel kind of meh toward. But if the PLOT TWISTS and kickass scenes continue, things could get excellent. But for now, I'm not bowing down to the Red Queen. (But again, I did like it, more so than not.)

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Probably not.
Would I purchase it? That cover might look awfully cool in person, but I'll probably only buy it if I need it for a signing or something. Or on sale. (In other words, I do not need it.)
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of not-your-average-story-set-in-a-castle stories, interesting concepts, would-be-so-cool-in-a-movie fight scenes, and PLOT TWISTS.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of the book.


  1. I'm really picky about books like these. I'm just getting into this genre, topic, whatever, and I don't want to read BLAH books that will spoil it and make me think that I just don't like the type of book. AND there are SO many Hunger Games copy-cats!! I just can't read the same book over and over.... just NO!! I love how you knew they were going to use that dreaded sentence and they totally did!! And Suzanne Collins should totally be pissed about that spark line!!! WTF??? Great review... I think what I'm looking for in these kinds of books isn't in this one :(

  2. I was super excited about this book but I've seen a lot of people say that it's less-than-great. Guess I'll have to wait for my library to get it. Great review, btw!

  3. Yes, I 100% agree with your review. I liked it but wasn't blown. It definitely felt familiar and predictable and I didn't ever connect with the characters. But WOW, that ending was just... amazing! I almost forgot how messy and confusing the beginning was. I'm interested to see where everything leads, especially after that ending!
    Great review!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

  4. Great review! I definitely agree with you about all the hype - I haven't read it yet, but the book would have to be amazing to live up to what everyone says.

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  6. I totally agree, the positive reviews for this book is mind blowing, like how can so many people be so hyped about something that isnt even great UNTIL THE END?! I read the book a couple years ago, It wasnt that disappointing, though the slow start was mainly because of world building (which was of of the main aspects I liked about this book, the world-building and creativity is insane) I managed to finish the entire book, the ending made it a satisfying read (except for the plot twist, which has permanently scarred me) Overall it wasnt that bad of a book, but wait till you read the sequel, it was worse than Irene Iddesleigh (Worst novel in the world) Its been 3 years since its been in my library and I havent even reached half of the book. If you thought the beginning of Red queen was boring, wait till you read the sequel (which I totally DO NOT recommend) it was so slow and boring, no action at all, at least not in the first half, I skipped to the last few chapters though, and I guess it gets interesting there, but until then its a waste of time. I'm pretty sure Victoria Aveyard's biggest skill is making us strive to read the beginning and then finally woo us in the end. I havent picked up the series after that. but the books look so GOOD on my bookshelf, which is the only reason I still keep it.


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