Red Queen Review
by Victoria Aveyard
Published in 2015
I was recommended to read this book by one of my longtime close friends, Kimberly. She actually had been telling me to read this book for a few years and I kept forgetting (sorry girl!) but I am so glad she was persistently pestering me about this because I really enjoyed this book (now you can say I told you so). This is a young adult series that to me is like a fusion of the Hunger Games, Divergent, and then you just throw in some magic powers. Even though it follows the similar story, girl is different, different is not good, overthrow the government outline, I still feel like Red Queen was unique as its own story.
This book begins with Mare Barrow living with her parents and younger sister, Gisa, while her 3 older brothers fight on the frontlines of a war for the Kingdom of Norta against the Lakelands Kingdom. The true internal battle however, is that between the Silvers and the Reds. The silvers are those with silver blood who rule over the reds and also have supernatural powers. The reds are just everyday civilians, deemed as lower than, and often struggling in poverty. When reds reach the age of 16, if they are not working, they are required to enlist in the war. Gisa works for the silvers as a seamstress, until her hands are broken by guards, thus eliminating the only source of income for the Barrow family. Mare tries to steal from a young man near her home, who is secretly Prince Cal, and is offered a job working as a servant in the palace.
The kingdom is in the midst of Queenstrial - when silver women display their powers to be chosen as a bride for Prince Cal, who has the power of fire, and the eventual future queen. The clear winner to be was Evangeline, until Mare, who is a Red, demonstrates electrokinetic powers (she can control lightning and electricity), which leaves everyone dumbfounded. The king and queen quickly throw together a cover up story that she was really a silver who was pretending to be a red, as they fear that this could cause an uprising from the Reds. She is betrothed to their youngest son, Maven, and begins to develop feelings for both him and Cal. This wouldn’t be a proper young adult novel without some good old fashion love triangles.
As Mare lives on in the palace, she befriends Cal’s uncle, Julian, who helps teach her how to control her powers. She learns that 2 of her brothers were returned from the war, but her closest brother Shade was executed as a traitor, which leads her to join the Scarlet Guard, a guerilla group with Farley as the leader and her best friend Kilorn as a member that wants to fight for the mistreatment of Reds. Shockingly, Maven has also joined, which brings him and Mare closer. They plan to attack several Silvers during a royal ball till an unexpected bomb goes off and kills many of the guests. Farley and other members are captured and accused, until Julian frees them, when they reveal that they were actually not connected to the bombing.
As punishment for the attacks, the conscription age is lowered from 18 to 15 years old for the Reds, thus condemning more Reds to death. While Julian has been researching about why Mare displays powers, he discovers that she has a genetic mutation which is why her blood is Red even though her powers are Silver. This makes her more powerful than both - and she is not the only one. Most, like her brother Shade, are executed if they are discovered, however they couldn’t execute her because there were too many witnesses that saw her manifest her powers. Julian gives her a list of others with the same genetic mutation as he goes into hiding.
Mare tries to get Cal to join the Scarlet Guard, but he feels betrayed believing the propaganda that the Scarlet Guard are terrorists, and arrest her and Maven. When brought before the king and queen, it is discovered that Maven has actually betrayed Mare and his mother, Queen Elara, uses her mind control to force Cal to kill his own father. This now makes Cal and Mare the traitors, and Maven the true king. They sentence Mare and Cal to be executed until they are rescued by members of the Scarlet Guard and are reunited with Farley and her brother Shade, who actually faked his own death.
Final Rating: 10/10
I loved Red Queen - Thank goodness I listened to my friend and read this book! I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this because really now how many times can you write a book about a young heroine that is different from the rest of society falls into a love triangle and becomes the face of a revolution. (Hunger Games & Divergent - I am looking at you guys). However, this felt so unique and different and it was really easy to root for Mare, even if the Maven betrayal caught me completely off guard!!! I couldn’t have foreseen that coming even if Maven himself told me that he was planning to betray Mare. As much as we were supposed to be #TeamCal, I couldn’t help but be #TeamMaven because there was just something so sensitive and sweet about him. Mare girl...he played us both.
I loved the addition of the powers and the fight between Reds and Silvers. From fire to electrokinetic powers to mind control to water control, it was always a pleasure to read how each individual could control their powers and how some are more powerful than others depending on how they have trained. I also thought the Queenstrial was so fun to read, even though clearly the idea of women having to prove themselves to become Cal’s boo thing is so backwards. But reading the girls having to demonstrate their powers in order to prove who would be the best match was interesting because they are just trying to ensure they always have the most powerful people on the throne by reproducing from the most powerful powers. Some were like lifting up a piece of dust (are you even trying) while others were practically tearing everything apart (a little bit extreme, are we?).
I thought this book was so creative and cleverly written and overall was just such a pleasure to read. I must have devoured this book in only a few days because I just had to know if Mare was going to be outed as a Red. As she gained better control of her powers, it was clear that she was a force to be reckoned with - #Girlboss. When I also read Queen Elara and how powerful she truly was, I was completely stunned and officially 150% invested in the story. I thought it was so incredible how her mind control is so strong, that she can make sure you are completely aware of the action she’s making you do, no matter how hard you struggle. Scary - but fierce. Last I have heard, this is intended to eventually be made into a movie so here’s to hoping they do a good job at an adaptation. Until then, I would definitely recommend reading this book because it was just such a joy.