Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is the first installment in a YA fantasy trilogy. It's about Mare Barrow, a supposedly normal and powerless girl in a society of Reds and Silvers, the Reds being normal humans and the Silvers being endowed with special powers (mind reading, super-strength, element bending, etc). An incident led her to the discovery of her special powers despite being a Red. That's the gist of it. So let's get straight into it. To be honest, I would rate this book 6.5 out of 10, and here's why.
So Maven turned out to be the bad guy. I had a feeling he would turn out to be unredeemable, because of Julian's foreshadowing ("He is his mother's son"). But I find it the abrupt transition from good prince to evil villain a lil' unrealistic. Was he really so malicious and evil so as to be able to hide his feelings and scheme so well in front of Mare? There was no hint that he was the bad guy. If he has a good heart, he would be wavered at the good deeds that Mare did for him, but he showed no signs of repentance, so are we safe to assume that he's evil inside and out? All that said, Maven should just eat shit.
I didn't like Cal (plot-wise), because I don't see much of a character development/arc in him. He falls for Mare just like that? *snaps fingers* There wasn't even enough scenes for them to develop romantically. Yes, there was the dance practice, and the trip to Mare's home (if that even counts), and what else? If there was a significant moment that made Cal fall for Mare, I don't remember it. Let's say another girl just spends some sweet moments with Cal; will he fall in love with her? Was there anything about Mare that made him like her over all the other girls? As far as I remember, all she does is spend 60% the time with him insulting Silvers and advocating for equality among blood colors, and 40% of the time being all sweet and stuff. He's not a bad guy, but there isn't anything deep about him that makes me interested in/intrigued by him. In fact, I liked Maven better at first! And let's not forget how he (and everyone in the book) is so filled with self-pity. There isn't one chapter that doesn't show one of the characters expressing the hard life they lead. It's one thing to be shown that they live a hard life; it's another thing to be told by the characters themselves that they lead a hard life. So much for victim-mentality. Once is fine. It's called sharing. Twice is fine. It's called release. Thrice onwards, save your bullshit.
Moving on ... Sometimes Mare can be considered brave, like when she battled against Evangeline, but other times, she's just whining about a lot of things. I'm looking forward to see more growth in her in the future. She may be described to be strong, but if you look closely, a lot of the times she's just being led along by Maven. Maybe it was because she thought Maven was the only person she can rely on, but still, that girl should start making decisions for herself. And yes, I do know she has the obey the queen to survive, but her submission has reached a level where she would be nothing special without her lightning powers. At some parts in the book, I wished she would stand up and fight for herself and her dignity, but of course ... that didn't happen. Even after considering her rare brave moments, it's still hard to see her anywhere near badass.
I also hope Mare has at least some sense of defense against Maven, because I have been wondering how the hell had Elara the b_tch queen not known about their Scarlet Guard plan, when she could easily whisper her way into Maven's head and figure it all out (which, of course she knew about it). I'm surprised Mare and her supposedly brilliant brain didn't think of that. And because Mare has been talking about how bad the Reds' lives are, I seldom get a glimpse of who she really is. Her character is blurry and I don't know her as much as I would've known ... Feyre (from ACOTAR), for example. If you ask me a question about her preferences, or how she would react under certain circumstances, I wouldn't have a clear answer on that. Bottom line: the plot and world building were quite interesting, but the characters don't do it justice imo.
Let's move on to the good things! I love Mare's brothers, especially Shade. Who doesn't love Shade? Throughout the book, I never lost hope that Shade still lives. He's in the Scarlet Guard, and after reading some good number of YA novels, I knew his being alive can be a possible plot twist at a crucial point (which happens to be at the epilogue). That was the reason I didn't mourn for him, because I was betting he'd be alive. It was heartwarming to read about Mare describing Shade as her favorite brother, and how he's said to be much more sensitive to his surroundings that her other brothers. At least there is one guy who uses his head with common sense. Maven uses his head but he's twisted and malicious, to the point he cannot feel (that is what I would conclude from his abrupt and clean transition from being a possible good husband for Mare to a villain). That stupid ass Maven should just marry Ursula.
I didn't like Gisa at first, because I have a sister, and I know how it feels, but Gisa wasn't that bad afterwards. She helped Mare to prevent Kilorn's conscription at the expense of her own hand, the hand that sewed beautiful silk, the source of their family's income. I'm sorry, Gisa, for your loss.
Even I get sick of the Silver crap and their lavish luxuries. This book reminds me of the French Revolution. (Wait. Was it inspired by the French Revolution?) Anyway, if I were a Red, I'd be pissed off my mind at the massive gap of status. I was glad that the bombs were not planned by the Scarlet Guard but by Elara. I would've hated the extremity of the Scarlet Guard if they had done it, because then they'd be no different than Elara.
I loved Julian's character. I believe he's the "wise, old mentor" role in this book. He managed to escape with Cal's help, and from what I've read, he was brought back by Maven. I hope he doesn't die in the next book. His "singer" ability is dope. I also hope he reunites with Mare soon. I look forward to seeing how Mare can grow her lightning ability and hopefully become more badass. She should stop whining, because if there was anything she should learn from what she has experienced as a Silver impostor, it's that whining gets her nowhere. It's unnatural for a protagonist to falter and shrink completely after being faced with huge obstacles. Depression should only be a temporary thing for her. If she doesn't grow stronger in harder conditions, I'm going to rip through the book into the fictional world and headbutt her personally.
Rise, red as the dawn.
So that goes for my review of Red Queen. Leave your thoughts about the book or my rant in the comment section below! Oh yep, also, how would you rate this book on a scale of 0-10?
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