RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard is an impressive, high-concept debut centered on a fantastic dystopian society divided by the color of a being’s blood. Mare Molly Barrow is a Red, different because she bleeds red and does not have the powers that Silvers have. Because of this, she lives in a destitute village with her family, destined to go to war like her brothers because the Silver King Tiberias requires Reds to fight and die for him. It is only by accident, after a chance encounter with the Crown Prince, that Mare discovers that she’s not a typical Red. Unlike her family and the people in her village, Mare has powers. Powers that only the Silvers have. She can create lightning with her hands and draw up power and electricity where there is none, making her a threat. The only thing for the King and Queen to do, once she has been exposed for all of the High Court to see, is to allow her to become one of them --- they embrace her into a life of deceit, power plays and a game she can’t even begin to understand. And when an underground rebel group approaches her to be the face of their campaign, she finds herself entrenched deeper in a revolution she hopes will change their world.
RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard is an impressive, high-concept debut centered on a fantastic dystopian society divided by the color of a being’s blood.
What follows is a very impressive amount of world-building and plotting. RED QUEEN is like a very tangled thread, carefully constructed and unraveled as the story continues. The characters, for the most part, are complex. My only complaint was that a few of the background villains were a bit static and flat. I would have wished for more intricacies like those found in the main characters --- Mare and the Crown Prince Cal, for example. However, I could almost ignore all of that in favor of the plot twist --- no spoilers, here --- that occurs. It’s a doozy and pretty well played. I was definitely not expecting it. Mare, our heroine, is quite admirable. I found her to be an excellent addition to the greats of epic fantasy --- Lia from THE KISS OF DECEPTION and Kestrel from THE WINNER’S CURSE, for example --- and dystopias of recent memory. I was worried about how the romance would turn out. At times there did seem to be a love square, as one of my friends so aptly coined, forming. But I think the end of the book solves some of those issues while still making readers question who will remain romantically entwined.
As for the plot, I think it was well structured. At times, there were lulls around the climax and falling action, making me wonder if there was going to be any true build-up or suspense at all. But I think the epic was treated well --- I was certainly eager to find out the ending, especially with the major twist coming out of nowhere!
That being said, I’m eager for the next installment. I’m curious to know what lies ahead for Mare Barrow and the other cast of characters in RED QUEEN. This first book could probably be a standalone, which is very clever on Victoria Aveyard’s part, but I definitely don’t want it to be. I’m invested in this world and I feel that I need to know what happens next. And I really do recommend this book --- the worldbuilding was certainly worth it, especially knowing that the author is so young. All in all, it was definitely an entertaining read and one that I think every reader will find something to love within it.
Reviewed by Brianna Robinson on February 24, 2015