Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Friday, January 2, 2015 with 12 comments
Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy, book #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 10, 2014
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

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 had the potential to be epic. And for some early readers, it seems to have been just that. But I think I let my excitement for this book get the better of me because the story I read just doesn't match up to other reader reactions...or my expectations.

I tried to ignore the comparisons to Graceling and The Selection before reading the book. I loved Graceling but I barely tolerated The Selection...though I did find it a compulsively readable series -- even if the story was banal and uninspired. And that's the same reason, I think, that I just didn't enjoy this novel as much as I'd hoped to. It's a mash-up of a lot of other stories I've enjoyed...and some that I haven't. It was slowslowslow to start. And the romance seems to be the focal point, despite the fact that the magical system and brewing revolution would have been much more captivating had they been more central to the story. Instead, they were background issues and were left mostly unexplored.

I found the special abilities that the Silvers were in possession of to be quite intriguing. Though they felt less like the graces the characters in Graceling had and more like powers developed through some genetic mutation, a la The X-Men, they gave the user an element (air, water, fire, etc.) to wield and use at their fighting arenas where they were put on display before the lesser Reds to show how much mightier they were. The characters did practice with and demonstrate their gifts on occasion, including Mare, but not nearly enough for my liking. I wanted this to be an epic fantasy and the element that would have made it such was just lacking in development. Why do only Silvers have these abilities? Why does Mare, a Red, have them now? It's only the first book, but I still have so many questions, especially when it comes to the world-building.

I expect that the coming revolution between Reds and Silvers may be featured more prominently in future installments, if that ending is anything to go by, but I wanted to see more of it in this first book. It's been a bit since I read this novel, but I don't actually remember having the segregation of the Reds and Silvers explained, how the difference in blood and the magic, or lack thereof, came to pass. It's obvious that the Reds are unhappy and preparing to retaliate for their mistreatment all these years, but besides a few minor incidents, the only sign of a rebellion was the existence of the Scarlet Guard, and it seemed very, very small in comparison to the legions of soldiers under Silver control.

I think the aspect that killed this book for me was the romance, though. I like romance in the stories I read. In fact, I prefer there be at least a hint of it in most stories. But then there are those novels where the romance just overpowers the rest of the story, choking out anything good and interesting in order to heighten the drama. This is one of those books. And it wasn't just the fact that there's a love triangle involved -- though it's the kind I actually can't ignore, and I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to LTs -- or that it pitted two brothers against each other. It was the fact that if the MC had been smarter, had seen through the guise at the Silver court, there wouldn't have been a love triangle to begin with. Also, there's yet a third guy who's interested in Mare, and he would have been the guy I'd shipped her with in the beginning -- probably...maybe -- but now I just want his character arc to fizzle out and go away.

This story was just so full of drama for so much of the book. I was never in danger of not finishing it, though, because like The Selection, it was hard to look away from it. I mean, what is that? It's like hearing a song you hate but that's catchy regardless and ends up stuck in your head all day. Annoying, right? Honestly, Red Queen does get kind of exciting toward the end, even with an obvious reveal that I saw coming from a mile away, and ensured that I will have to pick up the next book, even if this one didn't blow me away. It wasn't horrible, but it also wasn't nearly as good as I expected.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

After growing up in small town Massachusetts, Victoria attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She graduated with a BFA in Screenwriting, which is exactly the degree being sought after in a recession.

She tries her best to combine her love of history, explosions, and butt-kicking heroines in her writing. Her hobbies include the impossible task of predicting what happens next in A Song of Ice and Fire, road trips, and burning through Netflix.

Find Victoria:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr


  1. Gah, I hate when romance takes front stage over a good old revolution. I'm a revolution freak though, give me a society that's going to overthrow their government and I'm good to go.
    I've recently purchased Graceling and the Selection so I'm not sure about how the comparisons will fare up, I have to say though comparing this to such…popular books probably wasn't such a great idea.
    Hmm, hopefully the segregation and the background issues will be explained later. Along with a revolution. Sorry you didn't care for this one too much. I've been hearing a few negative reviews about it.


  2. I was also really wary when I read that it was a mix between Graceling and the Selection. I wasn't a huge fan of Graceling even though I did like the concept. I really did not like the Selection at all though. Now hearing that the romance is the focal point of the story is really disappointing and such a turn off for me. I will still read the book but I will definitely be lowering my expectations as I really don't like romance in a story all that much. Thanks for the review!

  3. Damn. Just another book that I was looking forward to reading, but will probably not graze my bookshelves. I detest love triangles with the fiery passion of a thousand sun. :/

  4. I think I am still going to grab this one when I can. Perhaps I will enjoy it more because I haven't read Graceling OR the Selection. I'm cool like that...

  5. I think I will try this one, but I will try to get myself to not have high expectations. Maybe it will be better for me that way, I didn't love The Selection series either, I didn't read Graceling......Unsure about Red Queen :-(
    Thanks for sharing!

    Em @

  6. Wow. I was so super excited for this book. I have it on my audio tbr list for this winter. I actually liked the selection very much so maybe this one will do better on me but the love triangle does scare me a bit. I am also tolerable of most but only when it really makes sense, not just thrown in for the drama and it seems this may be one those. I shall still give it a go because it does intrigue me just not sure about the rush to get to it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. I'm reading this now--about 40% in and Bleh. I'm not a fan so far. It had moments I thought it would get better but really it's been a very dull read for me. I haven't connected at all with the characters. :-( so sad because I was so excited about this one.

  8. Man! That stinks. I was really really looking forward to this one, but maybe now that you lowered my expectations, I'll like it more (because my expectations are lower). Great review. Thanks for sharing.

    Danica Page@Taking It One Page at a Time

  9. Oh, it's a shame you couldn't love this one as much as you hoped to. I know a lot of books these days seem to be a mix of others and it can be hard to be original sometimes. I like the idea of powers though, they always make me happy to see them in a book. But yeah, I think I shall lower my expectations a smidge, now.

    1. Check out my post and giveaway:

  10. I know it is really superficial, but I have to be honest. I don't think I can read an entire story where the girl's name is Mare Barrow. What in the real heck.

  11. I guess I should lower my expectations for this on should I decide to read it, then. Great review!
    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor


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