Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


“If you know someone’s fear, you know them.” 

For a long while I shunned YA almost completely because I assumed I was too mature for it (naturally I reached full maturity aged 15 or so). But eventually I learned that to disregard an entire genre for any reason was counterproductive and soon learned that YA and children’s novels can be some of the best because they get to the point quickly, and don’t take themselves too seriously. I had high hopes for this one, as word on the YA street is that it’s good with a cracker of a twist at the end, and who doesn’t love a good twist?

But unfortunately, Mare Barrow’s story is annoying as her name. In fact, most of the character names in this book annoyed me. Maven, Arven, Haven… Really flexing your imagination there, aren’t we Aveyard? Anyway, mare is a ‘Red’ a sub-section of her worlds population of humanoids who bleed red blood while their counterparts, the ‘Silvers’ bleed -you guessed it- silver blood and have super powers. The Reds are subservient to the oppressive Silvers who rule by force over the Reds by rationing their supplies such as how much electrical power they have access to. Oh, and there’s a war, of course, that all of the young people who can’t find work with the Silvers must fight in, including all of the male members of Mare’s family and her boyfriend Kilorn. And there’s an underground rebel group of Reds who want to bring the SIlver’s down, and a corrupted monarchy with an Evil Queen. So after a series of predictable events, Mare finds herself at Silver HQ and discovers that she too has a power, so naturally the powers that be decide to make her a princess, because why the hell not?

I kept reminding myself that this book is aimed at a younger audience than I myself would fit into (only just, mind) to excuse the lack of sophistication in the writing. But to be honest, that’s a poor justification. There are more than enough, highly successful books aimed at audiences much younger than this, or even written by younger authors than this, with incredibly sophisticated language, concepts and so on. I can forgive authors borrowing from other authors, in forgave the Hunger Games and Harry Potter for it because their authors DID something valuable with it and made the narrative’s their own. So I found this a bit annoying, because the world building, character and plot writing is kind of lazy, and everything I read was something I’d read a thousand times before, only a thousand times better. But after 100 pages or so (which I my cut off point if I’m not really into a book), while the writing didn’t necessarily improve, the plot did and while I still didn’t care much for Mare’s annoying, immature voice, I was intrigued to find out what happened to her world. In it’s bones, this story has potential to be a decent book, but it reads like it’s trying really hard to be adapted into a movie, and maybe it would have been better suited to that format.



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