Title: Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Published by: HarperTeen
Goodreads rating: 4.09 (as of writing)
I have finally decided to read this book because a friend loves the series so much. I’ve seen this book a lot of times in the bookstore but I ignored it for the next 2 years since it was released because when I read the synopsis, I thought it sounded just like every other YA novels I’ve read ever. Not only that, I was also turned off by something written in the synopsis. Warning, mini spoilers ahead.
Taken from Goodreads:
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.
It sounded like a typical dystopian YA novel complete with a mind-rotting, teenage, s****y love-triangle that I ABSOLUTELY ABHOR. Yes. Abhor. I am not a very big fan of love triangle tropes. They’re so overused! Like every Filipino Telenovelas I’ve ever had the misfortune of watching since I was just a wee little thing have them and I. AM. JUST. SICK. OF. THEM!
“Power is a dangerous game”
So anyway, I decided to get this book and read it partly because of my friend, partly because it has decent rating in goodreads, and partly because I was trying to look for inspiration for my own story.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
Though I admit I came in with very low expectations since the last book this friend lauded to me was “The Selection” and I was thoroughly disappointed by that one. THOROUGHLY, I tell you. I will make a review at another date when I find the courage to read that whole corn-fest all over again…
This book wasn’t as disappointing as I originally thought. Plot-wise, I thought it was nice. Sure, the start was pretty slow and it had many “this seems familiar” moments scattered all throughout the book, but I really loved the idea of royals and nobles having X-men like powers instead of just being a bunch of tittering fools in lavish outfits. Plus, the “love-triangle” was minimal despite the fact it seemed important enough to be mentioned in the synopsis.
Oh, happiness! No cheesy, out-of-turn declarations of love! No agonizing over WHO TO FUDGING CHOOSE. Romance (even as meh as it is) just fell neatly into place without disrupting the flow of the plot.
I am one happy bitch.
The world building is okay enough for the first book and easy to follow. There were just enough descriptions and explanation to tide me over. I also have no problems with the characters. They were solid enough for the parts they play and the important ones are sufficiently hinted to be more than what they first seem. They have hidden depths that I hope would be revealed as the story progresses and I wasn’t very disappointed in that department. I am especially taken in by Cal and Maven. The golden boy and the little brother who can do nothing but stand in the shadow of his greatness. Cliche but still works for me.
“Rise, Red as the dawn.”
However, one thing I absolutely hate about this book though is the main character, Mare Barrow. She was the typical stupid, brooding, “I am useless no one understands me” teenager with a (confusingly enough) hero-complex…sort of?
My first impression of her was she was a coward and irresponsible but loves her family above all else. Yet she fancied herself to be a freedom fighter? She joined the rebels despite being in a very dangerous position, despite knowing she’d be putting her family at risk. All for the sake of her dead brother. Understandable, but seriously? As someone who grew up poor, I would’ve thought she’d be a bit more practical but I was so wrong.
Other characters claimed her to be “quick” or “smart” but most of the time I don’t really see it at all. She’s horrifyingly naive, selfish and shallow. She’s also very shortsighted and judgmental. It’s really annoying at times.
Cal was right when he said this:
“Changing the world has costs. Many would die, Reds most of all. And in the end, there wouldn’t be victory, not for you. You don’t know the bigger picture”
SHE REALLY CAN’T SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE. She ignores good advises, thinks she knows people better than those who actually lived with said people for years, doesn’t think for herself nearly enough, constantly jumps to the wrong conclusions due to her shallowness AND likes to put words into Cal’s mouth. Good lord, I am honestly wondering what he sees in her.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that main characters need to make mistakes, it gives them the opportunity to grow, makes them seem realistic and their mistakes usually makes great plot points.
Still, I did NOT enjoy reading an indecisive, selfish, broody teenager’s thoughts. And unfortunately, despite making mistakes all throughout the book, you’d think she’d learn a thing or two. I was actually waiting for it to happen. But no! Aside from gaining control of her powers, she remained an idiot until it was way too late. There were already hints all over the place for her to connect and yet she conveniently ignored them all. As a result, she caused deaths all around.
All together, twelve died last night, but I refuse to learn their names. I can’t have them weighing on me . . .
She says stuff like that despite claiming to hate violence and death. Despite being all weepy the night before at finding out that one of the people they were going to kill seemed to be a good man who is a father of two 4-year-olds. She finds out that the two kids were also part of the casualties and was all conscientious again. Then she says stuff like that.
Inconsistent much? The author painted her to be some kind of compassionate human being but what the hell was that?
Ugh. So much for character development. I guess one book isn’t enough to beat the shallowness out of her? I don’t know. But it was really annoying. She’s also practically only alive because she was always being saved.
Just what I need, a damsel-in-distress posing as a heroine.
“But I’m not a princess. I’m not the girl who gets saved.”
Really? Are you sure? Are you 100% sure, Mare?
“I forced his hand. I made him choose. I was eager, I was stupid. I let myself hope. I’m a fool.”
Well, at least she acknowledged her idiocy. Brava.
Barring the super annoying MC, I enjoyed this book enough. Story is actually intense if you see past the main character’s whining and melodramatics. If I had any shred of compassion or affinity for Mare I would have felt sorry for her. Okay, at first I felt for her but it all changed when she went full stupid one time too many. So when things started to go really downhill, I was like:
“Serves you right.” I thought to myself victoriously.
This book is definitely over-hyped. As I originally perceived from the synopsis, it’s quite the generic story. Mandatory conscription for the war, clear division between rich and poor, powerful and weak social classes, a new world built upon the ruins of an old world, a special heroine from the slumps, etc. But without the presence of annoying, over-bearing romance for most of the book, I find myself sufficiently entertained because SUPERPOWERS and fighting and stuff. It’s the things I like in a book and once I start reading I usually just disregard the fact that this sort of stuff has already been done a thousand times over.
Why? Because it still entertains the hell out of me, that’s why.
Though, I would’ve probably loved this more if it was written through Cal’s eyes. He seems a whole lot more mature than Mare.
Not to mention smarter. But that would turn this book into another story entirely XD *coughs*that’s the point*coughs*
The author is definitely skilled, never mind being original, but I am quite baffled about her choice of main character. Though I guess it would be hard to get to that ending with a not-so-stupid main character 😉
“Anyone can betray anyone.”
My rating: (Liked it but not enough for me to fantasize about it XD)
Recommended to: People who doesn’t mind generic plot and annoying main characters
Favorite character: Lucas Samos 😥
Favorite quote: “Words can lie. See beyond them.”