Wednesday, August 15, 2018

BOOK REVIEW | Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series? Yes, the first in a series of four books
Pages: 383
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: I bought Red Queen during a book event!

This is a world divided by blood - red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.
Red Queen is arguably one of the most popular YA fantasy series, and one of the most popular debuts. With around 598,200 reviews spanning the series four books, 386,100 of them just from the first book, the series is widely read, and for the most part, loved. With an average rating of 4.07 from goodreads, I was looking forward to reading the first book, despite some of the reviews I have seen over the years that described the book as mediocre. Unfortunately, the Red Queen was generic and lackluster.

My first key issue with Red Queen is the plot. At first glance, the plot sounds intriguing. I love a good class struggle in my fantasy reads. However, good is the operative word. The division between Reds and Silvers was generic. There was no nuance. There was a clear line between Silver and Reds throughout the book, and it never wavered. As Mare travels throughout the kingdom, I thought she would happened upon instances where Reds were respected, even to the mildest degree. Instead, we get the same story no matter where we go: reds are inferior to silvers in any circumstance. I would have liked to see some exceptions to this rule, as it would have given complexity to the government and Mare's struggle to betray them.

My second main issue with Red Queen were its characters. I found all of them to be bland, and the only two that were mildly interesting was Maven and Evangeline. Mare was such a Mary Sue of a protagonist. She's pretty, but not that pretty. She's strong, but not the strongest! She's even special, but as we later learn not super special. Literally nothing about Mare stands out. While I like the idea that she was just thrown into this situation, she lacked personality. Also, Cal was just...there? In the beginning and end of the novel he actually makes choices that impacts the plot. But the whole middle of the book he never did anything. Considering what happened in the end with Maven, I seriously don't understand why people ship Mare, who is already a dull character, with Cal, who was as three dimensional as a cardboard cutout, or with Maven, who **spoiler** literally killed his father and then tried to kill Cal and Mare! Like...why do people ship Mare and him together?? It makes no sense. **end of spoiler** Take out the love triangle and give more time to build the characters, and I would have liked the book much more. Honestly, I think if Red Queen was in Evangeline's POV I would have liked it more.  We don't learn much about her in this first book, but I think she would be fun to read from. She isn't the waffling damsel in the distress that Mare is for the majority of the book.

However, Red Queen was not horrible. In fact, there were instances where I was enjoying myself. Unfortunately, these instances didn't last for long, and I would get bored. The themes of family, grief, and identity were interesting. Whenever Mare visited her family or thought about the sacrifices she had to make in order to ensure their safety, I was invested in the book. When the story focused on the love triangle, or the fantastical and/or political elements of the story, it fell flat. More time building the characters would have made Red Queen much more worthwhile. I'm glad I finally read the book, but I will not be continuing on with the rest of the series.

I give Red Queen 
2 out of 5 Crowns!

Have you read Red Queen? What did you think?

Thanks so much for stopping by and I'll see you soon with another post!

Happy Reading! 

Genni @ Ready, Set, Read! 


  1. Ugh, too bad this one didn't work for you. I remember seeing wildly mixed reviews when this one first released. Some loved it and some felt like it was just a conglomeration of tropes from previous popular books.

    1. Sad to say that I fell in the second camp! Some people really love this, and I just don't see why. Maybe if I was just starting to read fantasy, it would have been good.

      Thanks for visiting Tanya!!

  2. I wasn't crazy about this one, either. It just seemed like a run-of-the-mill fantasy story - some magical powers, lots of romance. There was really nothing special about it.

    1. I completely agree with you. Also, the romance wasn't done well in my opinion. I didn't think Mare had chemistry with Cal or Maven. In fact, the only person I liked her with was Kilorn, which the author was obviously NOT trying to do, haha!

  3. Ughh I was so excited for this book, but it ended up being very disappointing for me. I skim read the last half of the book and didn't even bother to continue the series. It doesn't felt original and just a mix of popular YA fantasy books, without any effort to make them unique :/

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

    1. Same here Tasya!! The hype isn't always right, it seems. I completely agree with you that it didn't feel original at all, and very much a mix of popular YA fantasy books. This didn't have a distinctive voice to make up for the lack of originality, either! *sigh*

      But thank YOU for visiting, despite the negative vibes of our comments! :D