Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Posted February 20, 2015 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Science Fiction, Young Adult / 40 Comments

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Published by HarperTeen
Published on: February 10 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
One Star
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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?

wtf2 dystopian traingle

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*

For example:

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.

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Jessica Signature

One Star

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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40 responses to “Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

  1. Awesome review, Jessica! I agree, Scarlett O’Hara would’ve sucked badly at assassination. And guess what? I like tacos too – better call a priest or someone, as it’s clear that something wicked is afoot! Darn it, and I had such high hopes for this one… Now you completely ruined it for me! *shakes fist*
    Ramona recently posted…Bloodroot by Amy Greene

  2. Oh boy! I’m going crazy with all the different ratings for this book..LOL
    I added it to my list the day I saw the cover, then I read the first meh! review so I didn’t get it, but I read to good reviews in the las couple days and I was planing to get it, now this!…LOL
    You made a pretty good argument why this didn’t work… I don’t know what do do now!..LOL
    Lupdilup recently posted…Free 2015 Sync Audiobook Downloads (May 7th)

  3. I was having the most uneventful Friday ever b/c I’m freezing in this 49 degree weather. IN SOUTH FLORIDA!!! I’m using shouty caps since I’m a total wimp! *snorts* *layers on another scarf* If there is one thing I love are ranty reviews, especially yours b/c you provide examples and then you mix in your humor. And your humor IS the BEST part!!! My favorite is when *flares nostrils*… 🙂
    Cristina recently posted…The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

  4. Nicole from Feed Your Fiction  

    Okay, well I cheated and read your review of Red Queen a while back on Goodreads, so I already knew how you felt about it. And, yeah, though I actually really enjoyed the book, I can see your points about certain aspects of it (especially the brothers love triangle thing). Oh, and your pics just made me REALLY laugh – especially the one with the 4 Ever crossed out and replaced with “Like a month.” I LOVE IT!!!
    Nicole recently posted…Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers – 5 Star Review!

  5. Bwahaha, I loved this review. I’m so glad I wasn’t all that tempted to ask for the ARC. I’ve read so many iffy reviews, and from the sounds of it, I doubt I’ll enjoy it. Ah, well. I can still be entertained by fun reviews of the book, regardless of if I read them!
    Sarah recently posted…Ten by Gretchen McNeil

  6. “The words take me back to my home and my father when he said the same thing so long ago . . .”

    HAHAHA. This reminds me of something out of a soap opera. What the heck. Hahahahaha. I have to read this one for a book club I’m in, so maybe I’ll do something fun like a drinking game or something. I think that’s the only way I’ll get through.

  7. I’d originally considering requested this when I saw it come up for review because you know me—I ❤ Alice in Wonderland—then I read the blurb, and was like nope, this isn’t the Red Queen I was looking for. You’re so right about assassins having to own it, and that make-up thing? puh-lease! I felt bad tagging the author in this review on Twitter, then I got over it. 😉

  8. This was a fantastic, in-depth review. I am so glad I stumbled across it, because I was heavily weighing towards making this purchase. I’d only read positive reviews about it, but there is no doubt (after your review) that I would have regretted my purchase. That writing and main character would have annoyed me far too much for me to enjoy the story.
    A. P. Bullard recently posted…Which Books Would YOU Add to the List of the Greatest Children’s Novels?

  9. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    So, I skimmed your review because I do have plans to read this one soon, but did take note of your rating. Damn! And I thought this one had such great potential. I did hear the second half of this book completely falls apart with love triangle (love square?!) BS though, and that everyone is in love with our perfect, perfect heroine. That would totally grate on me!
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig

  10. Roro  

    I could enjoy a love triangle 3 years ago but present day Rogier is much more pickier. I do have to say that I love the romantic relationships in Splintered.

    ‘”There is something inherently sordid about messing around with brothers. It’s tacky. Don’t do it. *flares nostrils*”

    Yes, jessica. Dating siblings is always icky. In my cause dating brothers is rarer but I still wouldn’t do it. I was never intrigued by it and the hype didn’t reel me in. Miss aveyard seems to be a fun person but I think I’ll skip it. Sorry to hear about the horrible reading experience

    Ps. I’m reading red rising and the Martian next month for sure #ecstatic

  11. …Oh so you loved it then lol.
    I’m really sorry you didn’t like this one. Many people were making this book out to be the next biggest thing but now that reviews are coming out it seems there is some problems with this one. I still want to try the book for myself but now I don’t really have high hopes for it.
    Thanks for the great review!
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  12. Mary from BookSwarm  

    See…this is why I’ve put off reviewing this story. First read-through, and I enjoyed it. I liked the world and the concept but I know, once I start really analyzing what I’ve read (and probably reading it again, as it’s been too long for me to write a comprehensive review now), I’m going to downgrade my first opinion. *sigh*
    Mary recently posted…Do It In 140: Tweet-Short Reviews (12)

  13. So let me get this straight…you didn’t like Mare, right?!? ;P

    I’m actually sad you didn’t like the book because I thought it sounded interesting. But I won’t be picking it up. I don’t like Mare either. There doesn’t seem to be anything redeemable about her. I do so appreciate you honest and entertaining review though, Jessica. At least there was something ‘fun’ about Red Queen…getting to read your thoughts. 😉
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ Incite ~ Erica Crouch

  14. Those descriptions really sound like overkill, I often find that long and elaborate descrptions slow down the pace of a book, especially in cases like this where one sentence would be enough and the second sentence doens’t add anything beside emphasizing the point. And how she reuses to learn the names because she don’t want them weighing on her, uhm nope thanks I think I won’t be reading this one. She doesn’t sound like a character whom I would like. Great review.
    Lola recently posted…Review: The Locksmith by Susan Kaye Quinn

  15. I can’t believe I’m saying this – but it’s official, I’m skipping this one. Which was easily one of my most anticipated books of 2015 because that cover and that concept. But I’ve read too many mediocre reviews and now your rant – which was fabulous by the way 😉 – is the nail in the coffin. I think the makeup comparison may be the worst part, though a rebellion as reprehensible as the government it overthrows really doesn’t work for me either. Great review!
    Berls recently posted…Murder at the Reinhart | Part 1 by Katie Hayoz