Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
When I first picked this book up to begin reading it, I was afraid that I was only reading it because of all the hype coming from the YA community. The synopsis was interesting, but was it really the reason I was deciding to read Red Queen? Well I’m proud to say that regardless of why I picked this book up, I’m glad I did it. Red Queen was great. It wasn’t full of all the fluff that I’ve come to expect from other YA novels.It really has lived up to all the hype.
Mare Barrow: Mare Barrow, thankfully, isn’t a weak, boring, irritating female protagonist. But she’s no Katniss (strong, admirable female protagonist) either. The best way to describe Mare is human, which for most authors is a difficult trait to accomplish. Mare isn’t extremely strong, but she isn’t extremely weak either. She’s faced with difficult decisions and she does the best can. She doesn’t want to betray/fail her people, but she doesn’t want to lose herself and disregard her values either. Mare faces challenges that most of us only read about in books (sacrificing a few to save the many) and even though there are moments when she buckles under the pressure, there are also times when she rises to the occasion. She can’t save the world and she knows it so she does what she can to save as many as she can. Mare is perfectly human. She is flawed, but she’s not a failure.
Other characters: Similar to Mare, Victoria Aveyard does a great job of establishing characters that come across as human. Almost all the characters have traits that make you like them, but also turn around and do something that makes you hate them. However, as the story progresses, it becomes clearer as to who is good, who is evil, who is a sheep, and who is a wolf. Nonetheless, none of the characters are purely one or purely the other.
Romance: The romance in Red Queen is very light. Mare never enters a relationship, but there’s some hinting as to who likes whom and may have a light crush on whom. There’s a very brief, light instance of a love triangle and love quadrangle, but I didn’t lose my patience with the book because as soon as it was there it was gone. Red Queen isn’t a romance novel so there isn’t an emphasis on being in a relationship or falling in love. I’m pretty sure the word love, in the boyfriend/girlfriend sense, only comes up once and it’s used incorrectly. The word love is used as a condensed form of like like or crush. Otherwise, there is no love or romance and Mare isn’t distracted by trying to get a man to like/love her.
The ending: Personally, I think the story should have ended when the Silvers were sailing back to Archeon. I’m so used to YA books ending on a happy/happy-ish note that it felt right that the story would have ended there. But that didn’t happen. By the absolute end, I understood why Aveyard kept going: the ending shifts the tone of the story and takes the series in a different direction. The absolute ending leaves an opening for another book, which works since Red Queen is a trilogy. On another note, and you’ll read about this in other Red Queen reviews, there is a huge plot twist at the end of the story, which is why there’s a tone shift at the end. Anyone who reads the story correctly will find it a complete shock, but I committed a reading faux pas by skimming the last page of book when trying to decide whether it was worth reading after the sailing scene and kind of ruined the shock factor for myself. I don’t recommend doing this. Looking back, I would have preferred to experience the story as Aveyard intended.
Genre: Of the reviews I’ve read for Red Queen, some readers have complained that the book is just another dystopian novel, but I didn’t see Red Queen as a dystopian at all. The book’s world may have a corrupt government, but Mare wasn’t living in a peaceful/utopian world before she found out and people aren’t exploited for entertainment purposes. Reds are slaves/servants, but they aren’t placed in an arena to survive while the Silvers watch on. Red Queen is more of a fantasy than a dystopian because of the powers the Silvers and Mare have and because of how the world is described/set up.
All in all, I encourage people to read this book. I really enjoyed how human the characters are, the trials Mare faced, and the tough questions raised throughout the book.