Length: 383 pages
Rating: ☆☆☆☆Source: Received as a present
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
It's not every day that you hear about a book that genuinely makes you say 'wow. I really need to read that, like now.' Okay, perhaps as book lovers that isn't quite true, but Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was definitely one of those books that made me abandon all other books on my book wishlist to pick up this one instead. Described as a mix between X-Men meets The Selection, does it really live up to all of the hype? Well hype wise I would say definitely, it's a fantastic read and clearly one of my new favourites of the year, but whether I would pitch it as similar to The Selection? Yeah no. In my mind this book is definitely more of a cross over of X-Men meets Crown of Midnight. So what did I think of it?
Cover - This cover is in one way quite simplistic yet quite detailed at the same time. There is a lot more to see in this cover than what is just being shown to us. The typography is stunning, bold and regal against the clean and crisp background. The focus on the silver crown is beautiful and the metaphors that detail the red blood trickling over it is fantastic. From first glances at the cover and the synopsis it's clear to see the focus on red blood and the silver royal family, but having read the book to me I can see a lot more. It's not simply just red blood on a silver crown, but the symbolism of the red blood consuming the crown and considering how much of a role the impact of red blood on silver's plays in the book, it's important to remember just how vibrant a drop of red blood can look on a clean and crisp silver background and how much of an impact it can leave.
Plot - Right from the get go this plot was intense and gripping. Now on my Goodreads updates I used the word intense far too often, but if I'm quite honest it's because this book really was that intense. From the beginning of the book we as readers are thrown into a world where the population is divided based on blood types. On one side you have the red bloods, the common folk of the kingdom. They are as normal as you or I. On the other hand you have the silver bloods, the elites if you will. The silvers have abilities that set them aside from the rest, and these abilities can range from fire manipulation to being able to control your mind with song. I know, it sounds awesome right? So naturally it would only be fair for our main character Mare Barrow to be a red blood with silver abilities. I have to admit although for a plot point it was predictable and frankly on the blurb of the book, it didn't take anything away from the storyline. Saying that, although the plot of the story does follow Mare and her learning to understand and control her abilities, the plot actually focuses more on her fitting into the lifestyle of the silvers and learning how to become a princess. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't some Princess Diaries kind of 'becoming a princess', yes there is learning about the history of the lands and about the heritage of the royal family, it's also learning about how to stay alive and making sure nobody in the silver kingdom finds out that Mare is secretly a red blood. It is important to remember as well that running throughout this story is an aspect of rebellion against the silver kingdom and Mare plays a very vital role in this rebellion, one that she doesn't quite realise until towards the end of the book. Throughout the book I never felt like there was a dull moment, and that was all down to Victoria Aveyard's gripping writing style. It's very simplistic yet fluent; there isn't an abundance of tricky vocabulary you need to learn because it's all gradually given to you as the story progresses. I don't really want to say anything more about the plot because I don't want to give too much away because I definitely feel this is a book you should go into and just enjoy for what it is, but can we please talk about that ending. I mean really?! 100 pages before the end of a new release and you throw in a betrayal and a cliffhanger like that? Not cool. Really well constructed, but not cool. I feel that I am in desperate need of the second book, like now.
Characters - So in terms of characters we are introduced to a vast number but in this book we only really centre around a few in depth. Obviously we have our main character Mare Barrow, a feisty red blood trying to find her way in this new society. I actually really enjoyed Mare's character, I thought she was written in a really realistic way and Victoria Aveyard did a really solid job at bringing her character to life in the minds of her readers. I found Mare's thoughts to be really accurate to the situations that she was presented with and there was quite often a great deal of logic surrounding how she processed everything. I was quite glad that for a first book in the series that the romantic element to Mare's characters took the back bench and really allowed for her own development to shine through. The only issue I had with her was that I was questioning whether this strong dynamic character that was introduced in the beginning of the novel was just as dynamic and strong towards the end? Was it just me or did she start to lose the confidence as the novel progressed? Difficult to decide. There is at times the romantic element between Mare and Maven and even when there was the love triangle brought into the mix, nothing ever felt like instalove which I was so appreciative of. The few romantic gestures that were in this book were all built up as the story progressed, meaning nothing was on the spot and unexplainable. Moving onto some of the other characters, Maven for me was quite blunt and although while not guessing the betrayal to come at the end of the book, I did feel that his character was slightly underdeveloped. Not in terms of lack of detail because Victoria Aveyard did a fantastic job at that, but more in terms of that everything Maven did to aid Mare seemed in my opinion a bit too good? That there was something hidden with his character that I hoped would come to the surface? Can I just say, boy was I surprised when what he was hiding was unveiled because I was not expecting that in the slightest. Talk about a killer plot twist, quite literally. He was definitely not just hiding in the shadow of his brother. Maven reminded me a lot in the final few scenes of Jeoffery from the Song of Ice and Fire series in the way that he was following the ideals of his mother to get him to the throne, but once we achieved it then nobody was going to stop him. Beautiful in my opinion - if we can hate Jeoffery as much as we do then Maven is going to bring a brilliant twist on that in the sequel. Cal's character on the other hand, for what we saw of him seemed perfectly constructed and when there was that element of romance brought into it through the dancing scene, ah for me that was just the icing on the cake. Automatic shipping occurred, but what I was so glad at was that as I mentioned earlier, nothing was instalove. There is the scene where Cal needs to choose whether to help Mare or turn her in, and I was so glad that he turned her in, it showed real depth to his character that he wasn't dropping everything for a girl, he had to think of his kingdom and his family first. I did feel really sorry for him however when he was being controlled and had to watch as he beheded his own father. That was torturous enough to read but having to witness it first hand? No thank you! In my opinion, Cal's character felt very reminiscent of Chaol from the Throne of Glass series in terms of his mannerisms and gradual romantic development, but perhaps thats just me. Evangeline's character was that perfect blend of hatred and love. I adored her character in terms of the way she was written, so much so that Victoria Aveyard creates this utter loathing for her character and in a way cast her as the perfect mini villain for me. Queen Elara in my opinion deserves no sort of redemption at all and I will feel no remorse for her if she dies later in the series. She is the perfect blend of Cersei Lannister and Queen Levana and those were both characters that I loved to loathe so I am looking forward to how she will develop in the upcoming books and how her powers may come into play to try and control her over ambitious son.
So overall I have to say that I thoroughly loved this book. It was just what I was in the mood for and what it delivered was very impressive. If you are looking for that medieval fantasy type read then this is definitely one for you to pick up and check out. It's that perfect blend between a high fantasy and a dystopian set in a very archaic type of world. A 4 out of 5 stars on my rating system and one of the better books I've read this year! Go and check it out!