Blood is thicker than water. At least that’s the way the world works in Red Queen where social status, economic stability, and quality of life are determined at birth by the mere color of a person’s blood; silver or red. Silvers are of a ruling class, evolved humans gifted with talents and abilities equivalent of our modern superheroes. Reds are mere mortals, forever slaves to the whims of Silver power. Mare is born into a Red family plagued by poverty, illness, and the constant threat of conscription into a century long war. Her blood runs crimson, and never once has she ever been anything more than ordinary. That is until one day a freak accident occurs in full view of the most powerful Houses of Silver, igniting a Silver talent in Mare’s Red blood. Never before has this anomaly been seen, and in desperation to keep sacred Silver power pure Mare is given an elaborate backstory to hide the truth. The world is changing though and the delicate balance of peace between Silvers and Reds is culminating in a lifetime of hostility and resentment at the hands of a Red revolution, with Mare the deciding factor in whether the power will remain forever stilted in Silver favor, or usher in the change of society. The product of crossbreeding aspects of the most successful books that have came out of our cultures The Hunger Games love affair, Red Queen is a mashup of many well loved dystopian elements all wrapped up in a sinfully well written package. Is it worthy of the record shattering hype it has received though? Keep reading for my take!
I’ve been having a rough time lately with books that received stellar ratings and reviews from the biggest names in the market. Maybe it’s because it gives me unreal expectations, or perhaps I’m just a negative Nancy looking to naysay anything commonly held in high regard. Either way, I think Red Queen is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I just need to take a break from the big name releases of the year and give time for the smoke to clear and stop clouding my perspective of books. If I had taken that advice before reading Red Queen there’s a good chance my rating would be a lot different for the better because, spoiler alert, this book started off with my bar of expectations sky high and then preceded to rapidly sink it back to a sub zero level. The book I was interested in reading had a complex caste system that was totally unique to Aveyard’s book, not a million different has been elements made into a misfit tag team. There would have been lots of court intrigue and political plotting, not a “will they won’t they” romance of The Selection proportions. Kick butt characters are never out of style, and I wanted Mare to be a brave heroine worthy of the Graceling namedrop on the front cover, not a bratty and self centered angst queen. All in all I just wanted more from the first book to ever debut at #1 on the Bestseller list. If you’re interested in reading me further elaborate/ rant my dissatisfaction at Red Queen in thorough detail, continue onward.
First things first, my hands down biggest complaint, and the main reason I could never get on with this book if even for mere entertainment purposes, was the characters. Mare, our narrator who we get the pleasure of being trapped inside for over four hundred pages, definitely has a personality for what it’s worth, even if it’s one that annoyed me to the point of having inner rage attacks throughout. While I get the drift Aveyard was going for; a sassy and tough thief lying behind a mask of insecurity that we’re supposed to unveil as we read, more than anything else she just came across as a “woe is me, curse my hapless life” mean girl with about as much development as one would expect from a brick. For some reason unbeknownst to me though every other woman in this book instantly wants her to take a bath in hot turpentine, while simultaneously their husbands, brothers, sons all see sunshine radiating out of her pores. Yeah, umm no Mare, you’re hardly that special. As such this results in a love square, where three hot boys vy for her uncompromised love and affection for no apparent reason. While I’m not one of those people who instantly raises pitchforks at the mention of romantic interests, I do expect all participating parties to be fleshed out, dynamic, and worthwhile to the main plot at hand. Unfortunately, I found two of the subjects of Mare’s lust to be about as interesting as wet paint drying, with about zero palpable chemistry between them. Since neither of them have an explicit role in the book as far as I can see their only real purpose is to look hot and smoldering in trailers when this book surely gets made into a movie adaptation. And the other brother? While he does have an interesting backstory and is sure to be an integral key player in Glass Sword his motivations were clear to me from the beginning which made his actions feel much less genuine and the much raved about “twist” hardly a knife in the back. The final characters that irked me were the Silvers Mare encountered while living amongst the royals. I sense Aveyard wanted to channel her inner Suzanne Collins in writing the divide between the two classes that live on either extreme of the spectrum, but where The Hunger Games succeeded in writing the residents of the Capitol as people, incredibly oblivious and naive at that, but still human beings product of their materialistic society (and on that note, a reflection of our own American world), Aveyard turned all Silvers either saintly angelic or stone cold monsters incapable of being anything more than what they were. This made it hard for me to get a feel for the background behind the story and see anything more than a Red perspective.
Whoo…that was a lot. Still, I’m glad I got if off my chest though. So who would I recommend it too? Someone obviously less picky than me, who won’t be bothered by character inconsistencies, poor plotting and pacing, and a weakly built world recycled from many before it. What I definitely would do though is wait a few months, don’t read any reviews, watch any Booktube videos, or look at upcoming movie news, then pick it up. Even though I made this book sound terrible it was a two star read for me, as Aveyard is an incredibly talented writer and the pace of the book picked up to a speed faster than snail in the last hundred pages, things I’m dually grateful for. Just wait it out and see, maybe you’re bookish senses will fare better than mine in reading this.