Friday, February 13, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: Feb 10, 2015
Rating:  4/5

Cover Impressions: Oh this is so cool.  I love the dripping blood and the simplicity of the background and font.  I can't wait to see how they continue this series, I bet they are going to be some fantastic covers.

The Gist:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Ever wonder what would have happened if Magneto had won and the bad-guy mutants had taken over the world, turning the "normals" into the lower-lower-lower class, just one step above slaves?  Well here it is! 
In Red Queen, the reds (those with red blood and without superspecial powers) live lives filled with toil and strife while the Silvers (those with silver blood and crazy-ass powers) follow the king and queen on an endless tour of leisure and parties.  Mare is on the edge of seventeen and that doesn't mean she gets to spend a year rocking out to Stevie Nicks - it means conscription to fight the war that has already taken three of her brothers.  In a strange twist of fate, she ends up working in the royal palace and a life-threatening situation reveals that she has more power than she ever imagined.

I will admit, I was trepidatious, I have never been the biggest fan of fantasy and I was a little nervous that this would be like the great Graceling fiasco (cliffnotes version: tried to read it 4 times, quit every time. BLECH!)
but, after reading, this isn't that high on the fantasy meter and the whole "talent" thing was pretty interesting.  In fact, the families having the same powers and some powers being less effective against others (water beats fire) totally reminded me of pokemon types. 
I do wish we had been able to spend a bit more time getting to know the different types of powers.  I could have used a legend in the back to remind me what types does what (did this end up in the final version?  I had an advance ebook...).

Full disclosure - there was a love triangle of sorts, but it didn't overwhelm the story and didn't quite end the way you expected - refreshing, I know.  And there was a bit of whole "every girl hates me and every boy loves me" thing going on.  I'm hoping that we will get less of this as the series continues.  Mare is a decent character, very naive and willing to believe practically anything.  For someone who grew up as a thief in a pretty rough situation I was very surprised at how trusting she was.  I kept questioning the motives of everyone around her but she seemed to believe everything that she was told.  It was almost like she had no idea she was in the middle of a YA novel.
I liked her much more at the end, once she learned some valuable life lessons, than I did at the beginning.  The other characters aren't all that interesting, unless they are using their powers and I wasn't really sold on the romance element.

The plot was fast paced and suspenseful where it needed to be.  I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for the inevitable Final Showdown scene at the end.  There were one or two plot twists which were a surprise but others that were pretty predictable to anyone who has read YA before.   But it was still enough to keep me interested and get me hooked.  Can't wait for news on the next book - especially a kick ass cover.     

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up 
Sex: Kissing 
Violence: Swordplay, Gunplay, Violent Deaths due to supernatural means
Inappropriate Language: Bastard, Bitch
Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking


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