Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, #1
Length: 12 hours
Narrator: Amanda Dolan
Original Publication Date: 2015
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy
“Anyone can betray anyone.”
In a world where blood defines everything, one girl may be the key to changing it all. Mare Barrow is a Red—she lives in poverty with her family until the day she turns 18, when she’s conscripted into the war. A war that’s not even their own to fight. Reds fight a war for the Silver bloods, who have incredible abilities ranging from mind control to elemental affinities. But when Mare, a lowly red, publicly discovers an ability of her own, her entire world changes. And she knows she must do whatever she can to stay alive and change the world for everyone.
I’m sure my followers have noticed an increase in the amount of fantasy I’ve been reading. I haven’t read this much fantasy since I was in high school! Something about this quarantine… Red Queen has been on my radar for a couple years. I decided to take the plunge and give it a shot—mostly because I noticed my friend Heather rated it 4 stars, and if anyone knows good fantasy, it’s her. She said people tend to either love or hate Red Queen, and though at first I was firmly seated the hate section, now…I’m not so sure.
Red Queen is told in first-person POV from Mare’s perspective, a red girl who accidentally discovers a power of her own at the worst moment possible—or perhaps the best moment, as the publicity of it becomes the sole reason she’s not killed for it. She spends her days not only learning the etiquette expected of a Silver, but also gathering information as a spy for the Red rebellion. Sounds pretty freakin’ intense, right?!
Unfortunately, not really. Where’s the suspense!? Where’s the heart-pounding thrill!? Oh, it’s saved for the last fourth of the book. Okay, great. So, fine, I’ll wait patiently for the end to be on the edge of my seat. Okay. So, up until then, we’ll just enjoy the build-up and character progression and excellent storytelling? Again, nope. We just trudge along, trying not to hate our protagonist/narrator/heroine. But it’s so hard not to hate her. Mare is just not likable. I think she’s pretty dumb, to be honest. She literally makes the worst choices imaginable at every turn, and says things she really shouldn’t say even when she consciously knows she shouldn’t. I know I should feel bad for her, but I just don’t relate to nor understand her.
Okay, I’m being a little harsh. The story is interesting despite a bit slow, and though Mare is a dummy she isn’t the worst narrator in the world. So what’s the worst part about the book? Probably the writing. I found it very dull. I felt like things were being explained rather than shown. It was very much “this happened” then “this happened.” To-the-point. Emotionless, almost. I didn’t feel much emotion at all. So, I guess that’s where the book really failed me. I didn’t feel anything while reading (other than annoyance at Gisa and Kilorn and Mare).
This review is more rant than anything, and for that, I’m sorry. I’ve been in a huge reading slump since this whole quarantine started, and I’ve lost my ability to write a coherent sentence. I still don’t know if I want to continue the series. Of course I always want to know what happens next, and I want to see if Aveyard improves her writing. But what if I’m just disappointed and trudging through another installment days before my loan on the book expires? I don’t know. I’m torn. Maybe I should make a list? I do love lists.
- Mare Barrow
- Kilorn Warren
- Mare + Cal = ❤ ??????
- Dull writing
- Lack of emotion
- Maven’s character arc
- The action (when it finally comes into play)
- The story in general
- The possibility of improvement
- The curiosity of what happens next
That really didn’t help, but it felt good to actually come up with pros. Because I’m serious when I say I didn’t hate the book, guys! I just didn’t love it. I think I’m safely seated in the like section. Where no one else sits. Does that mean I’ll continue the series? Maybe I’ll give book 2 a try. We’ll see. I think I’ll just take a break from Mare for a little while….
**Edit: After giving it some more thought, I’ve lowered my 3 1/2 star rating to a 2 1/2 star rating. I feel bad about giving negative reviews and ratings, so sometimes I impulsively up the rating a bit. But to be honest, I really didn’t like this book a whole lot.
Also, after hearing from other readers and reading multiple reviews of Glass Sword, I’ve determined I’m quitting this series before getting any further. It appears Glass Sword does not improve writing-wise, and Mare does not become a more likable character, and the action still doesn’t come into play until the end of the book—all of these things being the reason I disliked Red Queen so much. So, really, I’d just be wasting my time!