Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Me on Red Queen

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play 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 everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Red Queen is dark, deadly, and extremely deceptive. A world of terror controlled by the powerful elite and the common folk who suffer for their opulence. They are tired of suffering. This is the start of a new trilogy with some rather familiar elements.

Mare is quick and smart, she steals what she can in order for her and her family to survive. Her attitude is a bitter and spiteful one at the beginning. She hates the Silvers, the luxuries they have because of their blood and their abilities. The divide between them and the Reds. She holds no illusions about society. It's a horrible place, dark and crumbling. She's likely to die young, off on a battlefield somewhere. Unless she listens. Unless she capitulates to what the Silvers want from her once they discover something rather surprising about her. But only for as long as they need her.

I like her attitude, she's bitter and hard, there isn't just one chip off her shoulder but hundreds, but I wonder if she also needed to be snide and sarcastic. It's almost common now for a heroine in a dystopian YA series to wield sarcasm like a sword, slashing her enemies with quick one-liners. Perhaps it's because it brings levity to a dark situation, being able to laugh when all you want to do is cry. It shows she's not an unemotional shell of a person. That she's still defiant. But defiant doesn't always equal sarcastic.

The class structure thrives in this world. The elite versus the common man, those with inhuman powers exerting their will over those without. The lower classes are kept complacent with blood sport tournaments, treated like simpletons, while their children are sent off to fight a war that should've ended decades ago. The pale when they blush Silver against the Reds and the flush of blood in their cheeks. It makes me think of the Europeans, when they came to the New World and took over the Native Americans and their land. How such horrible things happened then, happen now, and may very well continue to happen.

This book feels like a cross between The Selection and Shatter Me. Royal pageantry and decadence for some and horrible poverty for others, a horrible ruler, and inhuman abilities. Mare is interesting, different, but everything else felt so familiar. A girl plucked from the slums, a prince with honour who doesn't want to be a pawn, a rising rebellion born from those in the lower classes who will not be slaves any longer. At the beginning I was torn between liking it for its darkness and thrills and not liking it because it was similar to books I've read previously. When I hit the halfway point I started to like it more, it twisted away from where I thought it was going to go, and then the ending rather surprised me. I'll probably read the next two books as I'm curious about what will happen next, but I don't think I'm as eager or impatient as others are.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from Edelweiss through HarperCollins.)

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