Book Review || Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publishing Company: Harper Collins

Release Year: 2015

Genre(s): YA, Dystopia, Fantasy

Series: Red Queen Series (Book One)


My Summary

Mare Barrow is a Red in a world divided by blood. Silvers are the upper-class, the royals, the ones with fantastic powers straight out of a fairytale. Reds, like Mare and the rest of her family, are the worker class, the regulars, the ones who watch in bitter awe at the Silvers’ strength and ruthless, wasteful ways. Mare and her family are just another one of the average Red families in their poverty-stricken village, the Stilts, between Mare’s pickpocketing and her sister Gisa’s embroidery skills, they make do. What little they have comes crashing down when palace guards show up at their house in the middle of the night and take Mare to work at the palace of the royal family of Norta. There, all too suddenly, in a strange twist of events, Mare discovers she has powers—controlling electricity—that leave even the Silvers reverent and is thrown full-force into the world of nobility as a pawn. red queen.jpgKing Tiberias and his snakelike wife, Queen Elara, declare her to be the long-lost daughter of a Silver and betroth her to the younger son Maven, despite her full Red blood. Everything is strange and foreign, and Mare must watch her every move; her life is at stake. It doesn’t help the situation that a war is being waged in the meantime and unrest is brewing in the nation’s Red population. Maven and Mare end up befriend each other and join a rebel group, the Scarlet Guard, trying to end the tyrannical Silver rule. As if hiding her identity and her allegiance from the Silvers is hard enough, she’s slowly falling in love the two princes, Maven and Cal, and doesn’t know which one to choose. Will Mare make it out of this mess alive, or will her secrets destroy her?

My Thoughts

I’ll be straightforward with you all: I didn’t exactly expect to enjoy this novel. I began reading it just for the sake of reading and ended up finishing it pleasantly surprised and looking forward to the next book in the Red Queen series. If you’ve ever read my review of The Selection, you’ll know that novels which mix dystopian worlds and monarchy-style governments aren’t exactly my cup of tea. 😛 Red Queen challenged my views by providing a fresh, compelling fusion-genre book that I rather liked.

The writing itself is great. It’s descriptive and vivid and captivating, and much better than you would expect of a debut author. 🙂 A job well done on Victoria Aveyard’s part. I also liked that the plot had so many interesting twists and turns Some aspects of the plot were a bit too familiar—downtrodden poor, self-doubt, sudden major life change, love triangle, rebellion. I felt at times that it took a pinch of personality from multiple dystopian series, added in a smidgen of fantasy, and voilà! Overall, though, it was fairly good. It drags a bit towards the end of the middle but picks up wonderfully at the conclusion. The extremely unexpected plot twist in the last few chapters is incredible. You will definitely want to have the next book, Glass Sword, just to find out what happens. (Glass Sword comes out in February of next year, by the way.)

Character-wise, Red Queen was nicely developed. Mare is a relatable, head-strong, clever heroine. It’s hard not to like her and her endearingly bold personality. The supporting characters (Maven, Cal,  Queen Elara, Mare’s childhood friend Kilorn, Cal’s betrothed Evangeline, Mare’s family,  and many more) are all unique and fun to dislike or root for. Their supernatural powers—or lack thereof—made them feel a bit too two-dimensional for my taste at times, but their interactions were generally believable and interesting. The one interaction between the characters I did not like much was the Mare-Maven-Cal love triangle. It felt rather weak and forced. :/

That being said, everything exceeded my expectations and left me wanting more. If you’re looking for a book with a captivating combination of genres and an exciting, suspenseful storyline, Red Queen is just the novel for you. 🙂

Happy December, by the way! How is the year over already? 😀

❤ Yasimone

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Book Review || The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

America Singer lives in Illéa, where the society is divided into eight castes— the royal family which rules the land are Ones. The homeless and poorest are Eights. America’s family are Fives, meaning that their roles in society are being artists and musicians. America is happy; she even (secretly) loves a boy. ❤ However, he is a Six and outside of her caste, and America is not sure whether her mother would approve if she found out. Meanwhile, the Illéan prince, Maxon, is coming of age and the Selection will soon commence. Many girls from all over the nation will apply, but only thirty-five will be picked. These elite girls will then go to the palace to live there for the next few months as the prince one by one eliminates them until only one girl is left— the one who will be his wife. America’s mother wants her to apply; so she does. Never in her wildest dreams (or nightmares) did she expect to be selected. So she must turn her back on Aspen, her love, and compete for her family. Along the way, she gathers sponsors, makes friends, and even gains rivals. Life at the palace is luxurious, except for when the rebels attack, and she and Prince Maxon, after a few mishaps, befriend each other. Just when she decides that maybe, just maybe a life with Maxon wouldn’t be so terrible, Aspen reappears— this time as a palace guard. What should she do?…

First things first— although this is not the worst book, it is not the best either. Yes, it is about a competition. No, it is not like The Hunger Games. A note about the organization of the book: 1) it has a dystopic, futuristic feel to it, 2) it has a fantasy, princess-tale feel to it, 3) it has an oppressive, monarchy government feel to it. Now that’s all fine and well, but combining those three is perhaps not the best of choices. The book is literally going in three different directions. 😐 Also, the caste system has been used for hundred of hundreds of years in places like India, and it is not a very futuristic idea. The writing is fine, though I would have appreciated a little more elaboration and description. I just thought that the plot was a little bit cliché. It was rather obvious from the beginning that America would be Selected, and that love triangle at the end… well, it was slightly predictable. I also would have liked for Maxon to be than an average prince, and when he mentioned that he didn’t know the lower castes were starving, homeless, and poor, I was incredulous— do I remember this story from somewhere? (Oh, yeah, it’s from Buddha’s life: he was a prince, carefree and happy, when he walks out into his land for the first time and witnesses the suffering of his people. He then gives up his decadent lifestyle to live with the people and devotes himself to helping others.) Is he really that uninformed about his future kingdom? That said, there are some sweet and funny moments in The Selection, and if you are looking for a fun, frothy read, then this is the book for you. 😉

-Yasimone