Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Published by HarperTeen
Published on: February 10 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule 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.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre 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.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
This book didn’t start out terribly.
I mean, come on . . . royals with superpowers? And a heroine from amongst the downtrodden servant class? Okay, yes, that does sound kind of familiar, especially considering that said downtrodden heroine is a Red, but beyond that I didn’t feel like there were many similarities. And as much as I love Red Rising and Golden Son, I would jump all over it if I thought this book was a copycat.
BUT. Sold as I was (at first), the heavy-handed descriptions and comparisons, piled on top of unnecessary flourishes, piled on top of still more comparisons . . . *sighs*
The only thing that serves to distinguish [Reds], outwardly at least, is that Silvers stand tall. Our backs are bent by work and unanswered hope and the inevitable disappointment with our lot in life.
“Backs bent by work” was sufficient to get the point across. “Unanswered hope” lent poignancy. BUT “the inevitable disappointment” blah, blah, turned a statement that could have been a powerful illustration into OVERKILL.
Was this an isolated incident? *snorts*
Hey, lady! This concept:
It’s a good one. Fyi.
And that wasn’t the only problem:
1. I hadn’t given much thought to why I typically crave bloodthirstiness from my heroines. Previously, when it was an issue, it was in regards to only two types of characters: those who stepped up, and those who didn’t.
Turns out there’s a third type.
She who makes the hard decision:
“Are you with us, Mare Barrow?” he says, his hand closing over mine. More war, more death, Cal said. But there’s a chance he’s wrong. There’s a chance we change it.
My fingers tighten, holding on to Will. I can feel the weight of my action, the importance behind it.
“I’m with you.”
“We will rise,” he breathes, in unison with Tristan. I remember the words and speak with them. “Red as the dawn.”
In the flickering candlelight, our shadows look like monsters on the walls.
Dithers over that decision:
“Children.” The words rip out of me. “He’s a father.”
(Damn right, he is. And a husband, and a son, and a grandson, and maybe an uncle and a nephew too. THEY ALL ARE.)
Then sticks her head in the sand like a fraking ostrich after the decision is carried out:
All together, twelve died last night, but I refuse to learn their names. I can’t have them weighing on me . . .
I’ve said before that if you’re going to be an assassin, you need to own it.
I’m adapting that statement: if you’re going to kill someone for the “greater good,” you need to be decisive about it. And if you’re having legitimately conflicted thoughts, then maybe you shouldn’t be killing anyone. But regardless, YOU TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS.
You don’t go all Scarlett O’Hara and say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” *flutters hands delicately*
You know why? B/c Scarlett O’Hara would make a damn terrible assassin, that’s why.
And Mare Barrow makes an equally terrible freedom fighter. She’s this BAFFLING combination of ruthlessness, pragmatism, compassion, self-entitlement, and poor self-esteem that causes her to constantly second guess herself.
Beyond that . . . I’m not sure how down I am with the cause.
It’s one thing to kill in the heat of battle, or to premeditatedly take out a Bad Guy, but to play God, picking and choosing who will die b/c their death will create more chaos than that-person-over-there . . . ?
*frowns and squints*
The whole scenario sat poorly with me. But my reasons for being uncomfortable were totally different than Mare’s, so instead of bonding with her, I wanted to smack her around a bit.
Sometimes MCs make mistakes. They’re supposed to learn from those mistakes—that’s what humanizes them, that’s what spurs character growth—but Mare never takes a hard look at herself. She stays almost completely two-dimensional, and I say “almost” b/c she’s too selfish to be truly flat.
2. Then there’s (if you haven’t started noticing it already) the melodrama:
My hands wipe at my eyes, though my tears are long lost in the rain, leaving behind only an embarrassingly runny nose and some black makeup. Thankfully, my silver powder holds. It’s made of stronger stuff than I am.
Crying . . . in the rain. Then comparing herself . . . to MAKEUP . . . and coming up short . . . Really?
But this one’s my favorite:
“I wish things were different,” he whispers, but I can still hear him.
The words take me back to my home and my father when he said the same thing so long ago . . .
So long ago?
. . . To think that Cal and my father, a broken Red man, can share the same thoughts makes me pause.
Hmmm . . . you like tacos too? That’s CRAZY. Me, I friggin’ love tacos. It is a small world after all.
3. I don’t hate all love triangles . . .
When they don’t get ridiculous, sometimes I even like the tension they create.
There is something inherently sordid about messing around with brothers. It’s tacky. Don’t do it. *flares nostrils*
And I’m going to have to stop, b/c I’m nearing my (self-imposed) word limit. But know that as well as being melodramatic and a coward, Mare Barrow is also self-centered, irrational, AND inconsistent. If you really want to hear me rant some more, I’ll spoiler tag it in my Goodreads review. Beyond that, the book was 100% predictable, and the methods employed to overthrow the corrupt government were every bit as reprehensible as the government itself. Not recommended.