A few months ago, I decided I wasn’t going to read Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. It had been getting pretty mixed reviews, and I feel like I’m kind of over YA fantasy at the moment. I’d bought a digital copy back when it first came out, but kept putting it off. Then a few days ago, something possessed me to give it a shot, and I definitely don’t regret it!
Mare Barrow lives in a world where class is dictated by the color of your blood. Mare’s blood is red, the color of the common folk. The Reds serve the Silvers, the elite who hold special god-like abilities. When Mare finds herself working as a servant in the Silver Palace, everything changes. She discovers that, despite her Red blood, she has a Silver power. Afraid of what will happen if the Reds discover the truth, the King and Queen hide Mare in plain sight. Suddenly, she’s a long-lost Silver noble, engaged to a Silver prince. The perfect position from which to help the Scarlet Guard bring down the Silver regime. But not everything goes according to plan.
Like I said, I wasn’t expecting to like this book. I recently read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, which I thought would be similar, and didn’t really care for it. The two books share some similarities, but they are definitely completely different books. Still, Red Queen seemed very familiar. And then I realized: it’s a fantasy version Pierce Brown’s Red Rising with a female protagonist. Once that thought popped into my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it as the girly version of Red Rising. Both have societies controlled by color: in RR, it’s eye and hair color – Reds are the lowest of society and Golds are the highest, in RQ it’s blood color – Reds are the lowest of society and Silvers the highest. They both have Red protagonists posing as Gold/Silver in order to take them down from the inside. And they both abandon their families, after experiencing a traumatic event, to do so. Both protagonists rise to the highest level of Gold/Silver because they possess Gold/Silver-exclusive qualities. In each society, the Golds/Silvers are physically superior to the Reds. The motto of the rebel group in each novel is the same: Rise. Even the protagonists’ names are similar: Mare Barrow and Darrow. Seriously. It’s. The. Same. Damn. Book.
Red Rising is one of my favorite books. So, naturally, I enjoyed Red Queen. The story was interesting, and I honestly did not see several of the twists coming – I can’t remember the last time a book actually shocked me. And I really liked it. But I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading a really good fanfic of Red Rising, Throne of Glass, and The Hunger Games thrown into one story. When I sat back and really thought about it, Red Queen actually is pretty original – there are a lot of unique details – but it doesn’t read that way. I’m still trying to figure out what I really think about this book. That said, I did have a lot of fun reading it, and am definitely looking forward to the sequel (which actually comes out on the same day of the final book in the Red Rising trilogy – weird, right?). I’m very curious to see where Aveyard takes the story.
I’m basing my rating off of the fact that I just truly enjoyed Red Queen, and thought it was well-written (especially compared to some similar books). The teenage love triangle thing was a bit much for me – I actually caught myself saying, “oh come on” out loud a few times while reading. Although I’m sure if I’d read this when I was seventeen, I would have loved it. But I liked the characters. The protagonist may have been naïve (what seventeen-year-old girl isn’t?), but I really appreciated actually being shown her power, rather than just told about it. I also appreciated that, while romance does play a big part in the story, it’s not quite stupid, sacrifice everything, insta-love. The characters actually use their brains and not just their… other body parts.
Overall, Red Queen gets a thumbs-up from me! Let me know what you think of it in the comments.