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Christina Reads YA

"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis

Review: Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

Release Date: February 10, 2015
Source: Edelweiss
Published by: Harper Teen

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard | Goodreads

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into 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 her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

You can see my original thoughts on this book in this post.

Red Queen is entertaining. While reading, I was consistently reminded of other novels even while I was absorbing the details of the world that Victoria Aveyard had established. It's easy to see why this novel is predicted to go "huge." The overlay of fanbases is widespread and with the entertaining quality of the book, and its easy to read writing style, you've got potential.

The magical system is fairly easy to understand; it's like that in Shatter Me or X-men, where in Shatter Me, Juliette's powers were central to her character and the plot but the actual dynamics were not the focus. It's not really about the dynamics of the magic and how they work so much as how the magic represents the class inequality between the Reds and Silvers and how it highlights Mare's ability to act as a catalyst for change. This book has been optioned for film. Knowing that while reading about the various magical powers made me imagine how cool that will look on film, and again brought out the entertaining quality of the book. On top of this comparison, I was reminded of the plotting, class tension, and romance in Shadow and Bone. I mentioned the Red/Silver divide: this reminds me of the Grisha/King's Army divide where one clearly outnumbered the other but magic brewed fear (though in S&B, the Grisha weren't the rulers, so that's not an entirely correct comparison). Plot-wise, it has similar elements where the girl is poor and has a best friend very loyal to her but is taken away from all that she knows when her power is discovered. She is the chosen one, the catalyst for change as mentioned earlier. And her power is unique, like no one else's; yet though we never learn why Alina is the only sun summoner, we do learn why Mare has her powers and that, I suspect, will play out in interesting ways in the sequel. While learning about what is expected of her and her power, there is also girl-on-girl drama and lavish balls for the Silvers a la The Selection. This drama is exacerbated by the romantic situation that, as I said, was reminiscent of the one in Shadow and Bone (which I mention here for those wary of love triangles (i.e. I never considered S&B one)).

What I like a lot, too, about this novel is how HUGE the character cast in comparison to some other YA fantasies. I also liked the betrayals. True, other fantasies do include kind-characters-turning-evil, but I'm not sure they include that on the level of scale that Red Queen does. I also quite liked how power and the politics were described and played out. I kind of understand the YA Game of Thrones comparison, but would ultimately reject that since the worlds are so different, and to also say that this book is like GoT would make one too many comparisons. Another thing that I quite liked was Victoria's writing style and how she described the surrounding world and country dynamics. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that her author bio says that she has screenwriting experience. This shows. I was definitely able to picture a lot of the action, and some of the elements, like the arena for fighting (with paranormal powers) a la The Hunger Games, would make for very entertaining -- if not captivating -- scenes on film. I would suggest that you try this one for yourself if any of the above comparisons, or the mash of these books, appeals to you.