Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
"Anyone can betray anyone."
The idea behind Red Queen, the first installment in the Red Queen Trilogy by Victoria Aveyard, isn't necessarily something entirely new to me. But, it is highly entertaining, brutal, and twisted with a bit of a cliffhanger ending to make things even more interesting. Aveyard's world is one in which society is split into two different factions Reds and Silvers.
Reds are commoners born under a never ending cycle of poverty, war, and death. They live under the rule of a Silver King and his people who have god-like powers and magical abilities to manipulate the elements. 17-year old Mare Barrow is a girl who grew up in the The Stilts. She knows that her future is pretty bleak. Without a job of any sort, or an apprenticeship like her sister Gisa's to give her future a bit of hope, Mare knows that she will soon be conscripted into the military like her three brothers and fighting a never ending war against the Lakelanders.
Mare is a thief, and a smuggler who hasn't been caught due to her ability to avoid the authorities. She steals things from those who have, to give to her family in order to survive. When Mare steals from the wrong person in order to help her best friend Kilorn, she finds herself working in the Silver Palace as a royal servant. But, if you think this is where things remain typical to this genre, you're wrong. After falling through an elemental shield, and wielding lightning, Mare realizes that she somehow possesses a power that is supposedly reserved only for those of Silver birth.
In an attempt to control her, and use her against the rebellion known as Scarlet Guard, Mare ends up in a deadly game of cat and mouse. She's the mouse who has an ability that nobody else has, and understanding why and how leads Mare through some interesting situations, revelations, while being trained to successfully pass as one of the born Silvers. Mare's entire identity is changed to that of a lost Silver princess, and Heir to the dead Titanos line. She's told by the Queen that she has to marry one of the Kings sons, Maven.
Mare is a character that is outspoken, hates the nobles, and is willing to put her life on the line in order to help the Scarlet Guard. Not unlike the SG, Mare wants to change the way her country is ruled, and give the Reds a true chance at not living under the thumbs of others. Even though I loved Mare's abilities, she could have used a bit more intelligence and perhaps trusted people a bit less. She could have understood that right from the beginning, NOBODY is what they say they seem. Not the Prince (Cal) who tried to rescue her from the streets. Not the Prince (Maven) that she's supposed to marry.
There really isn't necessarily a good way to discuss the attempted romance angle without absolutely spoiling the outcome. Mare starts by having a crush on Cal, the boy who honestly thought he was doing something good by helping her only to be used as a pawn in a larger game. But, when she finds herself with Maven, a boy her same age, she might have left her heart open to be ripped apart. If that weren't enough, Kilorn has been Mare's best friend for years. She's tried to protect him, but never truly allowed herself to fall in love with him. I will say that the romance has little bearing with my like or dislike for this book. It's just something that is there, and it doesn't totally drive the storyline unlike The Selection.
The reason I ended up rating this book the way I have, is because the ending is just staggering in its intensity, bloodshed, betrayal, and action. You really do see a much different Mare from the struggling thief who lives knowing her life may be shortened at any moment. She's a badass, she can stand on her own two feet without Cal or anyone else to help her, and she's now totally focused on a goal that others can help her with, finding others like her, and bringing down the Silvers.
We really need to stop comparing books to other works for in this case, Graceling meets The Selection just doesn't do Red Queen justice. If you want to compare this book to another, please consider looking no further than Red Rising where Darrow, a born red on the planet Mars, infiltrates the Gold society in order to destroy it. Now, of course, I haven't read either Graceling or the Selection, but the author does offer up her own version of the Selection called Queen's Trial.
According to Harper Collins, Red Queen is a Fantasy/Magic centered Young Adult novel. I would challenge that and add that the story's world building is not unlike that we see from a Dystopian novels. Normally in Fantasy, we don't have the technology, including electricity and airplanes, that this story has.
In the end, Red Queen's best moments happened when we see the various Silvers using their special abilities, and Mare being trained to use hers. I do think that Mare is a bit too trusting when all is said and done, and I am hoping that with what happens in the end, Mare grows even stronger and less reliant on others. I will say that Red Queen has definitely peaked my interest, and I'm eager for the next installment to come out. (See you in 2016!)
**I received this book for free from (Harper Teen) via (Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review**
Author - Victoria Aveyard
Title - Red Queen
Series - Red Queen Trilogy # 1
Published by Harper Teen
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Format: E-Book, 383 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic