Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: February 10, 2015
The gorgeous cover of Red Queen immediately caught my eye as soon as it came out (it’s hard to tell in the photo, but in real life it’s silver and very attractive to someone who is drawn to anything shiny). This being Victoria Aveyard’s debut, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I dove right in, especially since I hadn’t read any real fantasy in a while.
A quick summary from Victoria Aveyard’s website:
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into 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 her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.
From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.
I was hooked within the first few pages of this book. The clear societal differences between the Reds and the Silvers screams social commentary, and I wasn’t disappointed when this issue nicely progressed throughout the novel. It’s amazing how a story set in another world with a whole new set of rules and physical realities can still echo our own society so strongly. Anyway – I though Aveyard made a great point with some of the issues she brought up, framed within the confines of the book’s social classes.
The mystery of the story – how did Mare get her power if she’s not a Silver? – definitely compelled me to keep reading, but even more engaging than that were the courtly interactions and intrigue that Mare got herself whipped up into. Some elements reminded me of Kiera Cass’ The Selection series, but with less emphasis on the beauty pageant/reality television elements and more on the betrayal and political twisting and turning. So, a more interesting and meaty take on it, in other words.
I was really hoping that this book wouldn’t end up having a love triangle, but I was sadly mistaken. Still, the way that it played out didn’t really bother me in the end, because Mare really only loves one character at a time, and the way the young men feel for her is hard to pin down, which is part of the fun.
Red Queen is a meaningful read that’s packed with action, so if you like hidden social commentary and also magical powers and fantasy worlds, definitely give this one a read before the sequel comes out. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the next installment.
5 out of 5 stars.