Victoria Aveyard – Glass Sword
Read By: Amanda Dolan
Length: 14h 40min (464 pages)
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Started: 19 March 2016
Finished: 10 April 2016
Where did it come from? Preordered from Audible.
Why do I have it? I really enjoyed the first book in the series.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 09 February 2016.
In order to save
the Reds, Mare must first save the
Newbloods from Silvers.
Summary: Mare Barrow stunned the world with the revelation that she, a Red, has powers that are normally only the realm of the ruling Silver class. But she was stunned in turn by the shocking betrayal of Prince Maven, a betrayal that left her on the run for her life, along with Maven’s older brother, Prince Cal, who is the rightful heir to the throne. They turn to the Scarlet Guard – Mare out of solidarity with the Red cause, Cal more hesitantly, seeing it as his only way to bring down Maven and avenge their father. But the Scarlet Guard is not the haven Mare thinks it’s going to be – she’s distrusted there as much as anywhere, and betrayal is always lurking right around the corner. But Mare’s ultimate mission is to find those like her – other Reds with the mutation that grants them powers – and recruit them before Maven can kill them and silence the rebellion for good.
Review: While I enjoyed this book well enough while reading it – I rated it 4/5 stars when I finished it, which means “Very good, if not exceptional” – in the few months between then and now the bulk of it has entirely evaporated from my head. (Note to self: take better notes, self!) I suspect this is because, while the book was enjoyable, it bears a LOT of resemblance to a LOT of other YA dystopian fiction that’s already out there. The ostensible good guys turn out to have just as many people of questionable ethics as the bad guys, and want to use our heroine as a figurehead to meet their own ends? Hello, Mockingjay. Girl born with special abilities whose very existence is a threat to the narrative of the ruling power structure? Sounds a heck of a lot like Divergent. And so on. This is not to say that Aveyard doesn’t use these tropes effectively in this story, but… they are still tropes, which makes it hard for this book (or this series, really) to stand out from an already crowded field.
One thing that Aveyard did particularly well in the first book is plant some effective twists. The main theme (moral?) of this story is “Anyone can betray anyone, so trust no one”. And while those betrayals were shockingly effective in the Red Queen, by the end of this book, it got kind of old. Not trusting anyone ever is exhausting, for the reader as well as for the characters, and I was over it by about the midway point. And while I understand Mare’s reaction to the betrayals of her trust, and how it affects her relationships with those people left on her side, it does make her distinctly less likeable as she pushes everyone away in single-minded pursuit of her goal. I actually found myself liking a number of the secondary characters more than I liked Mare, which isn’t necessarily a fatal flaw (again, see: Mockingjay), but does require the author to be willing to develop those characters a little more deeply than Aveyard has up to this point.
So, I’m torn on how to rate this book. I enjoyed it while I was listening to it – Amanda Dolan continues to do a very nice job with the audiobook narration – but I didn’t tear through it the way I did Red Queen. It expands on the world of the first book, and I liked learning more about the newbloods and their powers, even if there were a lot of new characters introduced without a corresponding amount of character development. There are some pretty good action scenes, although I did get the sense that Aveyard was pulling some of her punches to save up the big confrontation for the third book. (I’m assuming it’s a trilogy, like all its predecessors, although I’m not 100% sure that’s true.) But I think it ultimately fell short of the first novel, and failed to make much of a lasting impression on me. So… 3 or maybe 3.5 out of 5 stars?
Recommendation: As I said about the first book, if you like YA dystopian novels, this book is in many ways more of the same, but it’s more of the same done well (albeit not nearly as well in this book as in the first one). I’m going to reserve my judgement on the series as a whole until I see how it wraps up, though – and while I’ll most likely read the next book, I’m now not in nearly as much of a rush to get my hands on it as I was for this one.
First Line: I flinch.
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