Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publication Date: 2/10/15
How I Found It: It's been quite popular in YA circles the last year
Date Completed: 2/4/16
Summary: In this world, those with red blood are deemed pedestrian and live as the lower classes. Those with silver blood possess special powers and live as nobles and rulers. Mare Barrow, a Red thief, finds herself in trouble when it's discovered she inexplicably has powers of her own.
What I Thought: I did not know much about this book going in besides its recent popularity (I'm doing so great at that lately!). In fact, it's pure coincidence that I am publishing this post almost a year to the day since the book was published. In that year, it's made some serious waves in the literary community. It even won a Goodreads Choice award for 2015. No small deal to us book nerds.
I am always so hesitant when it comes to YA novels, even the popular ones. There are some good ones, but they are well outnumbered by the mediocre and downright bad ones. My trepidation is well deserved; I've pushed my way through some real winners (can you hear my sarcasm in that statement?). I open the covers of this genre with a heavy dose of skepticism and a small portion of anticipation. After all, what if I just love it?
Well, I didn't fall head over heels for this one, but I did like it. The formula isn't anything new. It's a Cinderella story at heart, although this Cinderella has the ability to shoot electricity out of her fingertips and thus finds herself living simultaneously as a hostage and one of the most envied girls in the land. She never does actually live up to the title of the book and become queen of this mysterious land, but the potentiality is there and I suppose that was enough for Aveyard.
I thought it was a fun ride. Aveyard does her best to keep the reader guessing and, although she dropped too many foreshadowing clues for me to consider the end a real shock, I still enjoyed the journey. There were points I was genuinely guessing who was going to end up allegiant to whom. If she had tamped down the love triangle (square?), her twists would have been much more powerful. She gave too much away in setting up the relationships to come.
I liked the ending. For a few pages, I wondered if she was actually going to go Veronica Roth on us all and make this an independent novel. Instead, I look forward to reading the sequel and seeing how the story continues for this characters whom I genuinely liked. I hope the subsequent novel(s) hold more clues and information regarding the kingdom's origin. There were some vague hints between the lines suggesting it's an America of the very distant future. Then again, there are literally people with silver blood. That doesn't just happen. I want more explanation!
This book is fun. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it surpasses plenty of its compatriots in quality. It's a great casual read and I definitely recommend it if you're looking for the next in the long line of dystopian-type YA literature. There's plenty to enjoy and plenty of room for Aveyard to grow in the series, which I hope she does. The nature of the story offers a lot of potential for discussion of racism and classicism. I hope she's willing to explore those ideas in depth, rather than give in exclusively to the action and romance present in nearly every book in the genre. That would set Red Queen and its sequels truly apart from the crowd.
Will I Re-Read: Probably not
A Reduced Review: A fun addition to the YA canon and cast of powerful female protagonists; I hope Aveyard is willing to further unpack the social issues in future installations, rather than relying on romance and action to sell copies.