Red Queen, one of the most hyped books of 2015, still indeed in 2016, is undoubtedly the newest craze in the world of young adult literature. First published on the 10th February 2015, this book is still making waves on bookstagram and still drawing in new readers and re-readers. I absolutely hate hyped books, afraid to read them in case they fail to live up to expectations, but also afraid to miss out on something great. In the case of Red Queen, I regret to say that I missed out on something great.
Victoria Aveyard has created a world in which people are divided by their blood. Reds are seen as commoners and the Silvers rule. The latter are also born with superpowers, thus equality is nonexistent and most believe that it will remain that way forever. The story centres around Mare, a Red girl who is given the chance to work as a servant in the Silver Palace, but what at first seems like a great opportunity, turns into something of a nightMare (sorry, couldn’t resist). It turns out that Mare is no ordinary Red. She has powers too, powers that the Silvers are very afraid of and confused about. Mare’s powers threaten to upset the balance of power in the Kingdom as a mutation in her blood has given her the same, if not more powerful, superpowers than the Silvers. Panicked, the Silvers turn her into a long-lost Silver princess, hiding her true heritage, but keeping her where they can see her. Mare soon discovers the Scarlet Guard, a militant resistance group, and secretly joins them in their fight against the Silvers. Without knowing who she can really trust, Mare navigates the dangerous world of the Silvers, desperate to stay alive, but also desperate to bring down the Silver regime.
Red Queen has all the elements of a fantastic story, but what is most impressive about Aveyard’s storytelling is her ability to sustain the reader’s interest and the action throughout the entirety of her novel. You are drawn into the story of Reds and Silvers from the very beginning and plot twists and surprises await you in every chapter.
There are no flat characters in this story and I found myself with strong feelings (whether love or hate) about each and every character, big or small. Although Mare is undoubtedly the protagonist there are countless other very important characters who are all very distinct in my mind and are all very well fleshed out. Every character in this story has a role to play and there are no moments when I thought that the author had included superfluous information for the sake of it.
There are elements of romance in this book but it is nowhere near as prominent as I thought it would be. I really liked this as it meant that characters were motivated by their own beliefs and passions, rather than just love. That is not to say that Aveyard doesn’t clearly set up a romance that will no doubt be of greater significance in the future. There are many threads in Red Queen that remain unresolved at the end of this book but not in a way that you feel that you have been cheated out of a proper ending. Instead, it leaves you hungry for more of this story.
From the get go this book had me gripped and I was convinced that it was soon to become one of my favourite YA series; however, one hundred pages from the end, disaster struck. Aveyard seemed to be taking the story in a direction that many other YA series have done before and I was disappointed that she had decided to use a worn out story line that I’d read countless times before. I was immediately saddened that so close to the end of this wonderful book, it had let me down, but fast forward another thirty pages and I was even more surprised. Aveyard ends this book with plot twist after plot twist and despite the fact that not all of these were entirely unforeseeable, they were excellently timed and excellently executed. My faith in both Victoria Aveyard and Red Queen was restored, and I teared my way to the end of this book.
Red Queen presents a completely new world to readers and combines interesting characters, a fast-paced plot and great storytelling. Whilst there are some elements of Red Queen that reminded me of bits from various other young adult series, I would still say that this story is unique and has never been told before. Red Queen does not just set scene for the rest of this series but it also jam packed with its own action. For people that are afraid to pick this book up because of all the hype surrounding it, do not fear, because Red Queen will most certainly not disappoint.
The sequel, Glass Sword, is released in February 2016. A novella, Cruel Crown, is already available.