When it comes to books, I have absolutely no shelf control. The last time I visited the library, I basically cleared out half a shelf of YA fantasy books. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was one of the books I had happened to pick up, it sounded intriguing, but Kristy from Caffeinated Fae was raving so enthusiastically about the book that I started to get antsy to read it.
Mare Barrow lives in a world that is divided by the color of your blood. Silver blood comes with elite privilege and incredible abilities that confer a nearly godlike status. Mare’s blood is Red, the class of impoverished servants and soldiers. While she steals to help her family make ends meet, when her best friend is conscripted into the army, she makes a desperate gamble for his freedom. A twist of fate lands her in the royal palace, where her own ability is revealed in front of the king and all of the noble families despite her Red blood.
Desperate to hide this impossible fact, Mare is forced to assume the role of a lost Silver elite and finds herself betrothed to the prince. But as she finds herself drawn deeper into the world of the Silvers, she risks everything to help the Scarlet Guard — a group that is working to mount a Red rebellion. Mare is playing a dangerous game, and the only thing that is certain is betrayal.
I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy lately. The one thing they all seem to have in common is that they’re set in the past. There’s no electricity, heat, air conditioning, cars — they rely on lamps, fireplaces, horse-drawn carriages. This is where Red Queen sets itself apart. It immediately came across as more of a fantasy-dystopian hybrid to me. There’s elements of magic to it, of course, but there’s also clear signs that this is not your typical fantasy story. There’s electricity, video cameras, televisions, airjets, and there’s an area known as the Ruins that is just a radiated wasteland. I’m not generally a fan of dystopian books, but I couldn’t put this one down. The abilities of the Silvers are each horrible in different ways — the power to control minds, water, metal, or fire, while others can turn their skin to stone, move incredibly fast, bend light around themselves so they seem to disappear, or have superhuman strength.
For some reason, I keep finding myself deep into books that have themes of oppression, injustice, overcoming insurmountable odds. I’ve always been the person who roots for the underdog and hopes that someone can win when they’re outnumbered, facing an army that’s armed to the teeth, and while they have the most limited resources. At its core, this book is about all of these things and more. It’s the story of a rebellion against enormous odds. The entire time I read, one quote from the book was running through my head, and I wondered who it would be:
“Anyone can betray anyone.”
I knew betrayal would happen, and I was certain that it wouldn’t be a single betrayal, although I knew it would be a big one. I wasn’t wrong, and while I saw one of the plot twists in advance, I had no idea that it would play out as it did. Political intrigue, danger, guerrilla warfare tactics, and even romance played their parts in this book as well.
You know the kind of books that hook you immediately? This was it. I knew from the second page that I loved it. The action started in the first chapter, and the characters aren’t one-dimensional. Mare has her virtues and her flaws, as do all of the other characters in the book, although Mare has some serious cojones. I thought that not only was the world well-thought out, but the characters were well-developed also. This was one of those books where I’d have to periodically stop reading to process and catch my breath before I could go on. It’s the kind of book that I finish and feel as though I’ve just been emotionally wrung out, but still feel an overwhelming urge to rush out and get the next one. Unfortunately, the library is not open at 2am, and it definitely wasn’t open on Christmas, so I’m just going to have to slog through the rest of my books before I can get to the next book in this series.
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: 27
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars