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.
Was this review helpful to you? If so, please consider voting for it on Amazon or like it on Goodreads!
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
Great review! I gave it a bit higher marks cause I like the superhero type Silvers and enjoyed the ending. I haven’t read Red Rising, so couldn’t compare that, but I found it to have a Pawn feel to me which made it a bit boring at times. 🙂
Stormi recently posted…Book Review: Chosen Prey by John Sandford
Great review, Jessica! You know my stand on this book already, I completely agree with you (I left comment on your GR review). I just wish I havent wasted my time on reading this…
Lucia recently posted…LIFE CHANGING READS #3: How Heather Demetrios changed my perception of YA contemporary novels
Strange tangent related to only one line of your review. There is a book called Dragon’s Love Tacos that my kid makes me read almost every night.
Book got a lot of hype yet most reviews are agreeing with you. Kinda glad I missed it. Plus it has the word dystopia involved, which tells me most of what I need to know.
Nathan ( recently posted…U.S. Giveaway – ‘Blood’s Pride’ and ‘Fortune’s Blight’ by Evie Manieri
I <3 you Jessica!
Okay, I am sad you didn't love this but I can also completely understand why. Wonderful thoughtful review girl! Have a fabulous Friday!!
kindlemom1 recently posted…Guest Post: The Queen of Arethane by Kelly Riad
LOL, I almost did a DNF on this, as I felt there were stronger books in the genre, however I will say the last 1/3 redeemed it for me.
kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
You were a trooper finishing this book. And a love triangle with brothers? That’s just SICK!!
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)
Pahahaha! Love it when you rant! You’re the second person (blogger) who didn’t like this. Now I feel better for skipping this one. Man! Gotta love perspective!
Braine recently posted…Liked It: Broken Shadows by A.J. Larrieu
I am glad I chose to skip this one! I love your rants!
Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Blogger Confession: Reading the Old Stuff
Aw sorry this didn’t meet up to what you’d hoped and the love triangle was defunct
Oh man, your review made me laugh. I can’t believe the heroine compared herself to makeup. I have heard mixed reviews on this one, but I may still give it a chance. We’ll see. Maybe I will like it a bit more.
Cynthia recently posted…How Fast Do You Read
I’m sorry this was a big disappointment for you. I seemed to have enjoyed this one more, but I can see your points mentioned and why it didn’t work for you. Wonderful and thoughtful review, Jessica. Have a fabulous weekend 🙂
Kim recently posted…Adult Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
This is one of those books that simply sound amazing, then start getting hype and you get excited and then wary, and then when the reviews start coming and are so mixed… I am not sure if I’m gonna read it or not…
Great review Jessica, you made me even more doubtful about reading this one!
Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: Ensnared by A. G. Howard!!!
Great rant! Now I know for sure I won’t be reading this book.
Aurian recently posted…Lisa Marie Rice – Reckless Night – Read for #LLC2015
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
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!
what a shame. It has a such a cool cover.
Sharon Stogner recently posted…2015 Oscar Nominations
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
Aw, bummer! I was actually really starting to be curious about this one. I think the MC would drive me nuts though with her “I don’t know what to do” kind of attitude through it all. Thanks for your honest thoughts though. 🙂
ShootingStarsMag recently posted…A Look Back at Blog World (5)
“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.
People seem to love this one or hate it. I am in the middle. I did eyerolls with everything you listed but I did love the worldbuilding. Yea, I’m a sucker for it. 🙂 I want to continue to see if it starts to straighten out. I’ve had books do that to me as long as it has at least one element I enjoy.
Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Cookbook Photography Review: In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti
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. 😉
This one sure brings on conflicting reactions in folks. I don’t think I’ll read it soon, but mostly because it didn’t grab my interest in the first place. I sure can appreciate the points you make. Those types of things get me muttering when I’m reading a book.
Sophia Rose recently posted…The Great Pick Up Line with Wanting Forever by Diana Gardin #Giveaway #TGPUL
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?
I voted this as “Helpful” on Amazon.
A. P. Bullard recently posted…Which Books Would YOU Add to the List of the Greatest Children’s Novels?
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
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
Now all I can think of is Scarlett O’Hara being an assassin. Thanks, thanks for that. lol
But I agree with you. If you’re going to kill people for the greater good…own it. Don’t make yourself out like you’re a victim because of it. I hate that.
Mary Kirkland recently posted…Review: 11 in 1 Credit Card Multitool
Yes! Finally a review that was not all i love it! Cos I need the neg ones to really get the feel of a book
blodeuedd recently posted…#FitReaders: Weekly Check-In Feb 20 2015 and 2 reviews
…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!
Alexa recently posted…Monthly Music Mix
oh yeah haha, I remember you saying something about characters needing to prove assassinating skills to be real assassins. XD Was it in your Midnight Thief review? Hmmm, anyway, that is a bummer 🙁 It seems like it is either love or hate with this one. Great review though, Jess!
Lola recently posted…Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
Oh shame, I’m sorry that this was disappointing for you Jessica. I didn’t mind it, but I can definitely understand why it didn’t work for you.
A Wonderful and honest review, Jessica.
Sharon – Obsession with Books
Sharon – Obsession with Books recently posted…Review: The Return (Titan #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Ouch!I dearly hope I’ll enjoy it more than you, Jessica! 🙁 Although I don’t have much hope by this point. Outstanding review as usual!
kara-karina recently posted…The Postman Knock #113
I had to come check out your review when I saw it was for Red Queen. I recently won the book and with all the wild reviews, I know I will have to read it, eventually, to find out for myself. Love the rant. LOL
sherry fundin recently posted…Review ~ Dictating Death by Bonnie R Paulson
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)
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
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
This is a greatly entertaining review! 🙂 Sorry this book was such a disappointment! It just goes to show that not all books are worth their hype — and I’ve seen a lot of hype for this one!! But, I keep seeing more reviews like yours, so I’ll probably pass on this one!
Tricia recently posted…Parasol Protectorate Series (#1 – #5) by Gail Carriger
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!
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