To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
I don't even now how to describe it properly, it's like this really awesome mish-mash of Red Rising by the immensely talented Pierce Brown and the X-Men that's set in this castle where the Silver's train to do battle and fight in the war. The girls who have grown up in this environment and vying for their hand in marriage to one of these two Prince's, are just as catty as some of the girls in The Vampire Academy and Mean Girls are. It's just a brilliant concept all together and it's wonderfully written and equal parts intriguing. Tie all of that together and throw in a lowly Red girl who is so much more than she or anyone else expected her to be and you have one hell of an amazing book on your hands. Mare Barrows has this amazing ability, that is most assuredly a mistake, but in her case it could turn out to be the thing that promises hope for her people. It could possibly be the thing that saves her life and so many more from perishing or being held down, slaves to the Silver's for the rest of their natural born years.
Mare's world is filled with insufferable amounts of pain, terror, and hopelessness. Victoria Aveyard does a marvelous job at showcasing that, allowing you to feel what it's like to be so held down and kept under the thumb of the Silver's through Mare's eyes. It will make you thankful for the simple freedoms that you have, once you see everything they've had to endure from being conscripted into the war at an early age, from the loss of family and friends to the almost unbearable situations most Reds find themselves in. Mare isn't the type of girl who just falls in line and does what she's told like the good little girl. She is just as fiery and rebellious as she can be. She isn't afraid to stand up for her beliefs and she sacrifices so much of who she is for the people that she loves. Mare isn't without her faults though, she makes a lot of mistakes by trusting the wrong people, thinking that she can use them, without realizing that she's been used herself. Her self-pity wasn't something that I adored about her, but it was something that made her human and I can accept that much.
For me, one of the best things about this book was the lack of a true love triangle, where she loses both her head and her heart to either one of the Prince's. That's not to say that Mare didn't somewhat show her heart or have these gut twisting feelings for one of them, because she did. She was just smart enough not to let it engulf her, she kept her wits about her and made sure that she did what she was there to do. For the most part, the romance and the actual plot of the story worked very well together and I was happy to see that what love story we were given didn't over step it's boundaries. It was simply enough to satisfy and that's all it needs to be for right now.
All of the characters in Red Queen, were fascinating as well as entertaining in my opinion. They all contributed wonderful things to the story in their own ways. Some of them a little more memorable than other's, but each one uniquely interesting and crackling to life with their own flaws and abilities to either win you over or not. I love Cal, he's such an amazing character in such an impossible situation. He knows that change needs to come about, yet he's bound by his duties as the Prince and heir to his father's crown one day, that he has to carry out orders as his father would. Yet, he's the one who saw to it that Mare wasn't conscripted, that she was given a job in the Castle. He liked her, was drawn to her because she saw something different in him, didn't recognize him as the King's son. The sparks and the tension that ignited between both Cal and Mare was enough to put me on their team for a while.
Maven, on the other, he is a Prince of a different kind. He is a character that I found myself liking, despite the fact that everything inside of me was screaming that I shouldn't trust me as I was reading. I suppose I really shouldn't have been all that surprised with the ending of it, but I think there's still a part of me that wants to believe that he's not quite as evil as he's turned out to be. I want to believe that deep down inside of him, is the Prince that Mare believed there was good in. And yet, with that ending, I just don't even know.
Kilorn. He's so much akin to Jacob in the Twilight series, that I don't even know how to feel about him. I feel incredibly conflicted, because I felt all of these feelings for him all through out the book and yet, there at the end there was even more. It's almost maddening to me in a way, because as anyone can tell you I'm pretty much not the biggest Jacob fan in the world. I loved him as Bella's best friend, but anything beyond was big fat NO for me. With Kilorn, there's just so much passion, incredible strength, and an immense streak of stubbornness that it's almost insane. He gives me ALL THESE FEELINGS, more so than Cal and I can't decide what or who I want for Mare at the moment.
What I think I want, overall, is for Mare to choose herself and her people. I want her to choose the path that she finds herself taking and I want to see the hope come alive for her people. I want to see her remain strong in her beliefs and do anything for that change she wants to see in her world, even if it means going to her grave for the cause.
The wonderful element of betrayal and the misplaced trust in people that shouldn't have been necessarily trusted, was a big thing showcased throughout Red Queen and it brought about interesting surprises and revealed more lies and manipulation than I could have ever imagined. I was very pleasantly surprised as I sat reading the pages of this incredibly captivating book. There may have been a little bit of foreshadowing, but it wasn't enough that it bothered when I finally figured out one particular thing that's revealed at the end of the novel. For this to have been Victoria Aveyard's debut YA novel, I have to say that I'm definitely impressed with her writing style, the imaginings of her world, and such a vast array of entertaining and interesting characters. The action and suspense of this novel, left me clinging to the edge of my seat wanting so much more.
I'm operating on feels here guys and this book has ALL OF THEM!
Her YA debut novel RED QUEEN will be published Winter 2015 from HarperTeen at HarperCollins. She's repped by the incomparable Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
The genres she's into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic - if people are dying, she's buying.