Red Queen

17878931by Victoria Aveyard
YA Fantasy
2 of 5 stars
Debut novel – February 10, 2015

I finally picked up this book based on all the good reviews, but unfortunately I can’t add my own. Points for good cover art and a couple of good buzz lines…and that’s about it. It’s marketed as a YA fantasy novel but it felt more dystopian in actuality. The “fantasy” aspect was more political than anything.

Mare Barrow is a dumb protagonist. I hate saying that, but what is it with all these characters growing up on the streets and yet knowing nothing about how to survive? How does she have no people skills whatsoever? She can’t charm anyone or read anyone either? Despite repeating the mantra “Anyone can betray anyone” a million times, she’s still shocked that the Silver royalty has its own agenda. Worse, she’s the kind of dumb that hurts her allies–anyone who tries to help her ends up dead.

The world-building is the typical shallow realm of the rich vs. the working-class poor that supports them, and that isn’t the worst cliche. We also have the best friend with slight romantic leanings who joins the rebel cause that becomes too extreme. We have the rebel HQ in a land “destroyed” by radiation. We have the perfect younger sister whom everyone loves (no doubt slated to die near the end of the trilogy, possibly leaving the best friend at fault). And finally we have the “sentinels,” a police security force that highlights how unjust the justice system is. Additional lost points for having no-name maids that Mare doesn’t bother speaking to.

The story was slow to start, hard to get through, and the ending failed to engage me despite its chaotic attempts at drama. I was just relieved it was over. It’s clear that the author grabbed some key bits from The Hunger Games, Divergent, and the X-Men but this felt like a bad, boring mashup instead of a blockbuster.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Red Queen is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – The narration and political intrigue are highly similar here. Katniss is an unwilling pawn in the game of government and it’s her internal struggle to do what she feels is right not just for herself but for the world that resonates. This is a bleak book, and while I didn’t necessarily enjoy its length, seeing how the machine of war, politics, and media works is invaluable for broadening your perspective. See my review here.
  • The Named by Marianne Curley – Time-travelers trying to subvert the Order of Chaos’ attempts to change time meet up and struggle to outwit the evil alliance. Again, the similar narration and the characters coming to terms with their various powers are in the same vein as Red Queen.
  • Dragonfly by Julia Goulding – A somewhat typical character pairing of opposing monarchs are brought together to fight a common enemy. I remember enjoying the world-building and the character development of Tashi and Ram as they learn to understand one another and what they can do to save their kingdoms.
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – Another teenage girl discovering her powers and identity against the backdrop of war must fight to free her kingdom, even if it means giving up her own dreams. See my review here.
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth – Another teenage girl at the center of a revolution must decide what to do with the information that explains divergence. Equally full of political intrigue and power struggles.
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass – This features a girl chosen for a competition to win the prince’s hand (Queenstrial anyone?). It has a similar premise and narration, though I personally haven’t read it yet.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Killian
    May 16, 2015 @ 03:01:08

    I’ve seen a tonne of rave reviews for this but to be honest the premise never really interested me that much. It just seemed like another ‘poor girl gets powers and leads rebellion’ storyline that has been done to death in fantasy. You’re actually the first negative review I’ve seen, which is weirdly refreshing. I still think I might give this one a go, just because I want to read a bit more YA, but I’ll go into it fairly warily after your review.



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