Saturday, 3 February 2018

Red Queen [Red Queen #1] - Victoria Aveyard

Title - Red Queen
Author - Victoria Aveyard 
Blurb

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.

Review

I went into this book wanting to love it – I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews for it, there are three in a series and while I know this has nothing to do with it, that cover?! The graphic designer who came up with these covers need a raise.

So in a serious attempt to love it, I began reading intently in the way only those with a furious love of books can understand. The first half of the book was nice enough; it gave me a serious Hunger Games flash back, but the pseudo-medieval, futuristic, dystopian feel (hell of a mouth full) completely did it for me. I love books that attempt to create a real political power dynamic and a hierarchical struggle. I also love books with superpowers, so we seemed to be a match made in YA heaven.

After delving a few chapters into the book, my attempts to cling to the pages with my proverbial rose-tinted glasses firmly in hand began to fail. Mare Barrows was a good enough introductory voice to gently ease you into the world of the subservient Red and ruling class of Silver, but after a few chapters you awaken to the realisation that she is once again the character you were hoping to avoid – devoid of any character development, steeped in the age old ‘all the boys love me and all the girls hate me because I am so special’ trope, and perhaps worst of all, in a constant state of indecision. 

This is supposedly the character that is the core engine in a social revolution that could change everybody’s life, for better or worse, but what we are given is a girl who spends most of her time constantly worrying exclusively about herself until the plot demands that she shows a level of care and duty to her friends and family. Perhaps Mare has some lessons to learn from fellow revolution leaders (do they have telephones in Panem?).

The plot itself leaves much to be desired. Red-born Mare Barrows displays her suddenly emerging power in front of a group of Silvers and, in an attempt to hide a potentially new power among the Reds, the King and Queen disguise her as a fellow Silver who has been taken in by a Red family after the dead of her ‘noble’ family – because apparently as a 17 year old girl, she has never seen her own blood and is supposedly just convinced that she was nothing but a Red. Not to mention the fact that any of the remaining Silver lords and ladies did not have a single brain cell to rub together to ask for a demonstration – a pin prick test if you will. But no, they carry on their lives happy to parade this pink, blushing and warm Red girl into one of the most important positions in the crown – a princess.

Most of the other supporting characters do not fare very well either, they are painted in the most two dimensional way possible with as much dichotomy as you can master between the two images – the charming prince and his mirror-verse soldier; the evil queen who inevitably loves her only son; the wise old man who is also a lot tougher than he looks, the king who might as well not be there for all he does for this book, etc. It felt like page after page, we were being asked to care about these characters who could have been eaten by a creature from the fourth dimension three chapters ago and I wouldn’t have noticed.

The book is not without its positive aspect; the premise for this book is excellent. I’ve read a lot of comparisons between Red Queen and X-Men and I do agree with that. As I’ve said before, superheroes are my Jam and I thoroughly enjoyed the creative new powers in this book. Additionally, I loved that the events of the book had real consequences – I felt like every step, every action and every foul-up had a serious consequence that was far reaching. People lived and died by the actions of the characters and that was quite refreshing. Plus the serious of twists and turns (especially near the end) made this book manageable - but only just.

I think in the end, this book is just okay. It had a good potential to be so much more than it was. It left so much more to be expanded upon – the war could have been a much more prevalent aspect of this book, the family dynamics could have been better, and relationships with characters could have been more… just more. I think this book is going to be part of the ever mounting books that failed to meet their potential.

Product Detail
Hardcover, 383 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Language: English
Author's Website: www.victoriaaveyard.com
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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