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Victoria Aveyard – Red Queen

January 25, 2016

Aveyard, Victoria - Red Queen - 40082. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2015)
Red Queen, Book 1

Read By: Amanda Dolan
Length: 12h 40m (400 pages)

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Science Fiction

Started: 12 December 2015
Finished: 28 December 2015

Where did it come from? Audible.
Why do I have it? I don’t remember where all I heard about it (probably lots of places – I remember it getting a lot of buzz), but it sounded interesting and up my alley, so I picked it up when it was on sale.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 22 August 2015.

Mare’s got powers but
common Red blood – and that’s a
dangerous combo.

Summary: Everyone knows that there are two types of people in the world: Silvers, and Reds. Silvers, so named because of the color of their blood, are the ruling class, while the Reds are the common people, kept under tight control by the Silvers and their inborn superhuman abilities. Mare Barrow has grown up as a Red, not hoping for much from her future except to maybe avoid being conscripted into Norta’s endless war that uses Reds as cannon fodder. But when she – and the entire Silver court – discover that she too has powers, her life changes dramatically. Now she’s held close by the ruling royal family, engaged to their younger son, and forced to maintain the charade that she’s actually a long-lost Silver who was brought up by a family of Reds. In reality, she’s in constant danger – the king and queen can’t let the secret of her Red Blood out, the Red rebellion wants to use her as a pawn, and she’s surrounded by enemies who have been training with their powers all their lives, while she still struggles to control hers. She feels a connection with Cal, the heir, even though he is his father’s son in many ways and is engaged to a member of the Silver nobility, and she slowly begins to trust both him and Maven, her fiancee, who secretly is in sympathy with the Red cause. But can Mare really trust anyone when she’s caught in such a deadly game, and even a drop of her own blood could betray her?

Review: Red Queen is the latest in what seems like a recent flood of young adult dystopian novels. In some ways, it’s very reminiscent of other works in the genre. I found it distinctly similar to Snow Like Ashes / Ice Like Fire in a lot of ways – a young woman who suddenly finds out she has powers (magic) she didn’t know she had and is forced into a political quagmire that she is not particularly equipped to deal with, and must struggle to save her people, who have been enslaved by others her whole life. (It also probably didn’t hurt this comparison that I listened to them both on audiobook only a few months apart, and the narrators sounded pretty similar as well.) There’s also some obvious parallels to Mockingjay, Divergent, X-Men, etc.

But despite these similarities, I found Red Queen to be a lot more compelling and memorable than I usually expect from the YA dystopian genre. When I wasn’t listening to the book, I was wanting to be listening, or at least thinking about the story in a corner of my mind. The details have stuck with me after I’ve finished it, and I’m really excited to see where the story goes next. I thought there was just the right amount of complexity to the backstory and the shifting allegiances and the political strategizing – enough to keep me interested, not so much that it gets cumbersome. There were parts of this story that I found completely predictable – for example, when Cal first turns up in disguise in the Red village, I was like “well obviously that’s a Silver”, because I’ve read a book before – but the twist at the end of the book totally surprised me, although in retrospect Aveyard had been planting clues all along. I like Mare a lot as a protagonist, although I did sigh a little when I thought that the story was heading into boring love-triangle-ville. (It winds up more complex than that by the end, thank goodness.) The worldbuilding was effective, although there’s enough set up and hints about the past that I hope the explanations of “how things got to be this way” are coming in future volumes, and that they make some sense. (I’m looking at you, Allegiant.) Overall, I found this story very effective in all the ways that matter, and am excited that I don’t have to wait too long for the next book! 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you like YA dystopian novels, this book is in many ways more of the same, but it’s more of the same done really well, and so it’s worth a read.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: I’m late to the party! There’s a ton of them over at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: I hate First Friday.

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