Book Review - Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
This book caught my eye from the very beginning, and as the story progressed, I instantly fell in love with all the characters and their personalities.
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.
Mare is a young girl barely surviving in the Stilts, with her parents and little sister, while her brothers have been pulled to war. However, a few weeks before Mare turns 18 and is conscripted to war, her best friend, Kilorn’s, mentor dies and he is doomed to conscription.
To save her best friend, Mare seeks help from a trader she thinks will be able to smuggle the two out of the nation of Norta through the black market. But when she arrives at his stall, she meets an unexpected stranger instead, who offers to help her but at the nearly impossible to collect prince of a thousand crowns.
Not one to give up hope, she asks her sister Gisa, a talented seamstress, to take her to the silver village where she can hopefully steal something valuable enough to pay the price, but once inside the city, an unexpected announcement broadcasts to the entire area, claiming reds to have formed a rebellion group and are bombing silver buildings at the attempt of an uprising.
Silvers everywhere feeling threatened and the city is plunged into chaos as red servants are hunted down and questioned on what they know about the attack. And while the sister’s try to escape in the fray, Gisa makes a desperate attempt to not come back empty-handed, however, is not as skilled as Mare and is caught. The officers are forced to shatter the bones in her sewing hand.
Devastated, at the injury her sister endured, Mare leaves her sister at home and runs to a tavern to take her mind off things.
While sitting outside the tavern, Mare occasionally steals the purse of people coming in and out of the inn.
This is when she meets Cal, who pities her situation and gives her a crown. He promises to get her a good job at the palace. Mare shrugs him off, but the next day she is escorted to the palace to be a servant during Queenstial. Queenstrial is an event where the daughters of the noble silver houses display their power in order to be wed to the future king. Here she discovers that Cal is not a servant in the palace or even a red; he is Prince Tiberias VII, heir to the throne of Norta.
While serving a noble family, the girl who was competing at the time tilts the spectator stands downwards, causing Mare to fall into the purple shield below. However, instead of being burned, she sits stunned on the electrical shield, surviving against all odds. No red should have the ability to stan unscathed on the shield. And when Mare breaks the shield and stumbles into the arena, the crowd is shocked to find she has electrical abilities and uses them against a very angry Evangaline Samos.
From then on, all Mare can do is run…
What will happen to Mare and how is she able to control electricity? Will this trick cost Mare her life? How is she going to survive in this new world?
This review contains minor spoilers.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is the first book in the Red Queen series, made up of a total of 4 books. This book is a young adult, fantasy, fiction, dystopian, romance, adventure, and science fiction, which I would recommend to anyone between the ages of 14 and above.
This book caught my eye from the very beginning, and I had no idea whatsoever from the very beginning, and I had no idea whatsoever what I was about to read. r what I was about to read. When I first started to read the book, I found it both confusing and boring, as I had no idea what was going and how it connected to the story I was promised when I first read the blurb. However, as the story progressed, I instantly fell in love with all the characters and their personalities – which in my opinion were written to near perfection. The plot definitely turned this book into a page-turner and I had a hard time putting it down.
The plot – When I first read the book, I was more than a little confused about the structure of the red queen universe, but after a couple of chapters I soon grew to love it. The whole idea of a world separated by blood was enthralling, and the plot of the book was hardly undeniably anything but a disappointment.
The plot was unlike anything I had previously read before, where there is usually a set antagonist, protagonist, romantic interests, and side characters. The book lives up to its reputation of unexpected plot twists and cunning villains hidden in the shadows. Even after completing the series, I cannot decide who the biggest villain was, or who the real hero was? Red Queen has kept me on my toes, which made it an even more pleasure to read.
The characters – The characters in this book, were was diverse, and throughout the book, it is clear that Victoria Aveyard thought carefully about what each character’s personality would be like, from the manner in which they speak and talk, to the way they react and move.
Each character is well written, and it was hard to not imagine them being real people. And most importantly each character goes through extensive character development, and I can’t express how well Aveyard has considered how each person would react and show signs of being affected by whatever trauma they went through.
Even at the end of the series, you can see how much each personality is affected and altered in both big and small ways, and it’s this attention to detail that really caught my eyes throughout reading the book.
I will never submit again. I will never stop fighting.”
-Mare Barrow (Red Queen)
Mare Barrow – Mare Barrow is the main protagonist of this book, which an incredible determination, stubbornness and tendency to not bend to anyone’s will. She started as someone who you wouldn’t spare a second glance to, and ended up being thrown into a world where she ended up the face of a revolution; much like Katniss Evergreen from the Hunger Games.
Mare is an electricon, meaning she can control all means of electricity, and is a powerful fighter, even without her powers to aide her. When I was first introduced to Mare, I found her to be like any other stereotypical dystopian heroine; short, stubborn and revolutionary.
However, when diving deeper into the novel, I quickly realised I judged her too soon and began to fall in love with her manner and dialogue. She by far has the toughest will I have ever seen, making sarcastic comments till her last moments, where she brushed death more than a few times.
“I could set this world on fire and call it rain.”
-Maven Calore (Red Queen)
Maven Calore – Where do I even start when describing Maven Calore. All I can truly say about him is that he deserved a different life. Maven was so likeable during the first book, and although I understood the relationship between him and mare, I still feel like he would have been good friends with her if there was not a big plot twist at the end of the book.
Maven is truly the most complicated character in the entire series and one of the many reasons I love re-reading this series. I cannot say any more about him without spoiling the book, but he is an amazingly written character who deserves more credit than he is given.
“He’s right. It’s cruel to give hope where none should be. It only turns into disappointment, resentment, rage—all the things that make this life more difficult than it already is.”
-Diana Farley (Red Queen)
Farley – One of my favourite heroines throughout the books. She is a captain of the Scarlet Guard, an organization of rebels. She wields such confidence throughout the book and is such an inspiration. She is smart, determined, brave and sarcastic. I personally feel that she is underrated, and deserves much more credit.
She is an incredible fighter, despite being one of the few main characters who does not have some sort of ability and is such a phenomenal feminist who is one hundred per cent done with everyone’s nonsense. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind and is such an inspiration, she has made me laugh out loud more than a few times throughout the book.
Many people see her as a minor character, but I can argue that without her Mare wouldn’t have been where she was during the book. I cannot express how much I love her a whole.
“As beautiful as this world is, it’s just as dangerous.”
-Tiberias Calore (Red Queen)
Tiberius Calore – Tiberias Calore VII, Flame of the North, True King of Norta, or cal for short is my favourite character in the series. And although there have been more than a few times when I have wanted to pummel him for, the decisions he made, he remains at the top of my list.
Out of everyone I admire his character development the most. Because even though he was brought up with a certain expectation, throughout the book, his world was constantly changing and his perception was forced to change with it.
Reading the book, I could see how his prejudice against reds stayed the same for so long, highlighting that in the real world, you cannot change someone’s opinion so easily, and for that reason, his character felt so real to me.
“Rise, red as the dawn.”
-Scarlet Guard (Red Queen)
#The Rebellion – The main plot device for this book was the inequality between those with red blood and those with silver blood, and throughout the book, a rebellion is on the brink of turning into a full-blown war, where everyone must pick the sides, they are on. War not only brings forth where loyalties lie, but they also show limits. Limits as to what a character can do both mentally and physically.
And Victoria Aveyard has done a fantastic job of showing how the characters prepare themselves, and you can really see throughout the book how each character is slowly reaching their limits and especially Cal at the end, what he went through; you can see how that is mentally drained him.
Throughout the series, he keeps that trauma with him and the writing is consistent which I deeply appreciate when reading the rest of the series. Mare’s experience is thoroughly different from Cal, and throughout the series, you can see that the first book only gave you a glimpse of her full personality and she is so much more than you first anticipated.
That was one of my favourite surprises when reading this entire series and the first book set a good pace but the books to follow really broadened the depth of the characters.
In Conclusion, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a book burning with betrayals, deceptions and slicing blades, which deserves a five out of five. I recommend this book to anyone who has a taste for royalty and rebellion.
About the Author
Victoria Aveyard was born in a small town in Western Massachusetts. She is an Author and Screenwriter, who has a BFA in Writing for Film & Television from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. She is known for writing the five-book red queen series, which is currently being translated into 41 languages. She lives full-time in Los Angeles with her dog Indy.