I couldn’t wait to get started on Glass Sword (book #2 in the Red Queen series) by Victoria Aveyard, especially since I loved Red Queen so much. If you’ve read book #1, you’ll understand my overwhelming urge to ignore my looming TBR pile in favor of reading this book.
Just a heads up: if you haven’t read Red Queen, you may want to skip over this review until you’ve read it (and you should do so immediately). While I can assure you that this review does not reveal any spoilers, it does reveal a few major plot twists from book #1. Consider yourself warned.
Mare Barrow’s blood is red — the color of common folk — but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince — the friend — who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: She is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever? The electrifying next installment of the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known — and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.
Mare is strong, smart, and resourceful, but in this book, she’s reeling from betrayal and deception on a level she hadn’t expected. She’s on the run and doesn’t have time to process her emotions or trauma. Consequently, these issues plague her throughout the book. She can’t just assimilate back into her ordinary existence anymore — she’s now set apart from her peers and even her family. She isn’t sure who she can trust, and is still haunted by the simple fact that anyone can betray anyone. She’s especially harsh towards herself, questioning her own judgment and berating herself for mistakes:
“And I am revealed for exactly what I am — a particularly stupid fish, constantly moving from hook to hook, never learning my lesson.”
I really feel for her. She’s torn between wanting to save as many people like her — newbloods — as possible, and wanting to strike back at Maven. As she continues on her quest, she is changing though. Mare is becoming single-minded, and it’s hard not to dislike what she’s turning into when she shares thoughts like these:
“But there are friends I would trade, lives I would forsake, for my own victories. I’ve done it before. It isn’t hard to let people die when their deaths give life to something else.”
It makes me wonder who she’d be willing to sacrifice to meet her goals. Which she hasn’t really thought out beyond saving the newbloods, I might add.
Cal is another interesting character for me. He’s now an exiled prince, hated by pretty much everyone besides Mare. Maven has placed a price on his head, the Reds don’t trust him, and everyone really believes that he killed his own father. I’m absolutely flummoxed that not a single person even considers alternate possibilities for his actions, especially in light of the events that occurred in chapter one of Red Queen, which tells me that most people are well aware of each of the Silver abilities. My heart breaks for Cal, and how he just can’t seem to find any place where he quite fits into in the new version of Norta. Even with the rage that simmers just under his skin, he still retains the core elements of who he is. He’s still able to keep his cool for the most part (no pun intended), and despite his anger at Maven, he’s able to see what happened to his younger brother:
“No one is born a monster … Even Maven.”
This book was so much darker than Red Queen. While Mare and Cal have escaped from one hell, they’ve landed directly into a new hell with bleak prospects and less hope than they’ve ever had. Book 1 was rough, but this book crossed into brutal, gory territory, and when I finished, my emotions were raw. I didn’t like the path that Mare is taking to reach her goals, and my heart hurts for the road she’s on. She’s so damaged, and hurtles from poor choice to poor choice, pushing away everyone who could help because she doesn’t know who could betray her next. I can tell that this won’t be the last time she’s going to be hurt or betrayed, but I think that she’s going to discover that betrayal doesn’t just come from outside herself. I’m going to stick with the series, because I’ve already gotten this far and I need to find out what happens next. I’m hoping that she isn’t beyond saving, and that there’s some peace in her future. I’m also hoping that she HAS a future.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 12
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars