Monday, 4 May 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date:  February 10, 2015
Date Read: April 17, 2015
Buy This Book: Amazon | Book Depository
My Rating:  ★✩✩✩✩
Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except... her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into 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 her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.
~ Juwairiya's Review ~

This book really doesn't know what it wants to be. On the one hand, we have the staple YA dystopian premise shoved into a fantasy world: evil rulers terrorizing the underprivileged for decades until a headstrong teen finally decides to step up and have a revolution!!!1!!!! And this is accomplished by the usual "rebels are a united force of good" concept that YA loves to preach (Because real rebels aren't often divided by humanity's ever-complex developing ideologies or selfish personal gains as history has so frequently proven. That's not an intriguing idea to explore). Then on the other hand, there are superpowers but no proper fantasy lore to explain them so they're just there because the author said so. Or was it an unknown mutation that caused it? Yeah, I remember reading about some obscure mutation. Highly original, that.

 We then move on to the world and you know from the get-go that the feudal-esque ruling class of the Silvers oversees the downtrodden Reds, who are akin to peasants. For a few chapters, you get this medieval feeling but then all of a sudden, it turns out technology exists and not just basic rifles but TV screens, radiation detectors, trains, security cameras and even makeshift motorcycles. WHat? Where did all that stuff come from? And if that stuff exists, then why didn't the Reds take advantage of it before? They seem to know how to operate tech better than the Silvers, who are too adapted to their powers, so how did this oppression last for so long (until Mare enters the picture ofcourse)?

 Ah, yeah, Mare. She's the headstrong teen with cRAZY new ideas like "hey, stop whipping old ladies on the streets. That seems kinda wrong, dingbat" but she doesn't do much to bring these thoughts into action. All her supposed acts of bravery were simply a consequence of the plot moving fast and carrying her with it, definitely not the other way around.

 The other characters are not so different. Apart from 2 excruciatingly obvious villains UM I mean /plot twist/, all the other characters slipped out of my mind as soon I closed the book. They were just so black and white that you knew their fears, dreams, goals, actions, color of their underwear and quirky middle name as soon as they walk onto the page. And it's not like the rug is pulled out from under our feet and the stereotypes are deconstructed into thought-provoking character analysis. It's just the same old, same old. I sound like a jaded old grave digger but that's probably because every single time a YA book is hyped for its "daring, grey characters", I usually end up like so:

*sighs and starts playing catchy Becky G pop mush in order to gain the superficial energy to proceed*

Somewhere in the middle, the story falls flat on its face as it tries to dabble in court intrigue. But the thing is, for court intrigue to be enjoyable you need conniving chronic liars. And Mare was not that and never became that. She couldn't control her emotions at all (particularly anger. She was angry ALL DAY EVERYDAY) and I'm not even going to start on her petty hatred of perfect, smirking stock character Evangeline or her "deep and philosophical" crush on the princes. Yup, Mare is not like the other, I quote, "silly girls" who (a) just swoon over the princes and (b) get jealous of other prettier girls. There is zero similarities between Mare and these silly girls. So little in common that it's absotively unthinkable that Mare could easily become one of the stock characters herself if she hadn't struck a pot o'gold and landed a role as the protagonist.

By the way, that above was an example of how the writing style is like. Everything is stated and then for some reason repeated synonymously in italics, just in case we didn't get it the first time. It was okay at first but later on, it made the story melodramatic and like a direct-to-DVD movie trailer.

 In the end, those are all my thoughts on the highly acclaimed, bestselling Red Queen. It has all the elements that made many YA books successful before but a lot of us are desensitized to these concepts now. You can't keep recycling the same formula and not expect us to get bored of it or at least become aware of it. Will we be fed the same thinly disguised tales for years to come? Stay tuned, my fellow weary readers.

1 angry cloud that will most likely not continue on with this series.


  1. Finally someone who is not in love with this book! I truly struggled with this book myself. Storytelling skills of this author were very poor. And as you mentioned, she did not provide anything new or original. I definitely won't be continuing with this series.

    1. Ayy I wholeheartedly am not abashed about this particular unpopular opinion! This book's idea had so much potential but the actual thing felt like eating 3 days old cold pasta. Maybe I'm being too harsh...or maybe not. The author is skilled but this just did not strike me as anything amazing.

      I won't be continuing with the series either.

  2. Yup, totally agree with you on this one. I struggled to give it two stars. And the italics! It drove me bonkers.