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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

So I know this is silly, but I really wanted to  not like Red Queen. Almost everyone I know loves it; it has amazing reviews everywhere. I wanted to be different and not like it; to see through the story that so many love. But that didn't happen.

Red Queen was the first book on my #MakeMeRead list with over 140 votes for it. I begrudgingly started reading it Saturday morning, wishing I could finish the other books I've started and am much more in to. But by Chapter 2, Victoria Aveyard pulled me into the world of Reds vs. Silvers and the spunky main character Mare Barrow who I felt myself relating to on multiple levels. With my busy weekend, I found myself wanting to be able to just sit and read and follow Mare's journey without putting the book down. That didn't happen, but while I was reading it, I was 100% engaged.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

The world is divided by blood, Red and Silver; Reds are commoners, nothing special about them, just like you and me; the Silvers are special, they have abilities that make them godlike and give them power over the Reds. Mare Barrow is 17 with months to go until she is conscripted to the army to fight a battle that has been going on for more than a century, and her friend, Kilorn, who was supposed to be safe from that life, will shortly be on his way to the war front. Mare tries to find a way to save them both, and ends up damaging her family even more when a handsome stranger, Cal a prince in distguise, saves her from her future by getting her a job in the palace working as a servant for the Silver king and queen. Mare's first day as a servant ends up being more than anything Mare expected when during Queenstrial, a show where the royal family picks girls from the high houses to marry their sons, she finds herself falling to her death towards an electric force field, only to live and discover that she has a power that is more than any Silver has ever had. Forced into a lie of pretending to be a Silver and marry the second prince, Maven, Mare finds herself trying to hide who she really is, bring down the Silvers, and learn who she really can trust.

Paramount Moments and Dissatisfying Instances
  • The world that Victoria Aveyard has created is not like one that's been written about a million times. Yes, it's a dystopia, and so it has similar features to other dystopian novels, but there a key features in this novel that you don't read in every single book, and that is one of the things that I look for in books.
  • Mare has an incredibly sad story. Her three older brothers have been sent off to the war; she can't find a job; she ruins her sisters career when she is trying to save her and Kilorn's lives from the war; she isn't the favorite child; and she lives in a poor little town under the reign of Silvers who don't care. You root for her from the beginning.
(Source: Giphy)
  • I have such a clear image of all of the characters because Aveyard does a magnificent job of bringing them all to life. When Elara is searching through Mare's mind, I can feel her searching mine. When Mare is fighting Evangeline in Training, I found myself fearful of Evangeline's metal spiders and blows, trying to take her down before Red blood is drawn and Mare is discovered. You are right there in the action the entire time.
  • I never saw the ultimate betrayal coming. I hoped against hope that Maven was really on Mare's side; that maybe even Elara was on her side. I wanted Maven to be good so bad. I did not want to be wrong about him, even though in the back of my mind, it felt too easy and I chided myself and Mare for not knowing better. Even in the beginning, Mare tells herself "At least I won't have to deal with a good liar," (p.97) when he proposes to her. But the overwhelming theme of the book is "anyone can betray anyone." (p. 225).
(Source: Giphy)
  • I honestly don't know who I want to win Mare's heart, if anyone. They all have their faults, Maven especially. As much as I believe that Mare doesn't have to end up with anyone in the end, I know that because this is YA, she will.
When I started Red Queen, all I knew about it was that it was about a world divided by blood, and that Mare found out that she had a power that she shouldn't have; so I went into this book pretty blind, and I think that is partly why I enjoyed it so much. So often, I already know a lot about the book because of all of the hype it's received or friends have talked about different plot lines around me; but here, everything was a mystery and it was so fun watching it pan out in front of me.

(Source: Giphy)
I really like the idea of the Scarlet Guard. I feel like until Maven got involved, they were going about things the right way. And I love Farley. She is strong, determined, smart; she runs the Guard in a way in which she is respected, but does not give off the vibe that she can be walked all over. Her plans are smart and calculated, and she doesn't go in a place without knowing her way out.

"Out of the shadows of the wagon, hardly visible in the dim light of Will's single blue candle, a woman rises to her feet. Girl, I should say, since she barely looks older than me. But she's much taller with the air of an old warrior. The gun at her hip, tucked into a red sash belt stamped with suns, is certainly not authorized...She is a foreigner, an outlander, and an outlaw at that. Just the person I want to see." (p. 23)

I wanted to love Cal, I really did. He saved Mare from conscription, he took her to see her family, he saved her time after time because he felt drawn to her, he saw something more in her than just her blood. But he was so much his fathers child. Maybe I feel that way because I have felt what it's like being stuck in someone's shadow, so I favored Maven more. But Cal also saw lives lost as okay if it meant they gained in the war, which is wrong on so many levels.

I also wanted to love Kilorn. He's the boy next door, the childhood best friend, the guy that knows Mare inside and out. But I felt that he joined the Scarlet Guard just to make Mare mad; she was parading around as a Silver, so he's going to join the Guard and take down her new world. His motives just felt childish to me. Yes, it's a good cause, but it's only a good cause if you believe in it, and I don't feel that he always believed in it for the right reasons.

"'You bargained for me too, to save me from conscription,' Kilorn says softly, finally understanding the price I've paid. 'You have a bad habit of trying to save me...'
Kilorn backs away, flinching when the cycle revs up. Then he smirks at me, his features curling into an expression that used to make me want to punch him.
'I'll tell Farley you said hello.'
The cycle growls like a beast, tearing me away from Kilron and the Stilts and my old life. Fear curls through me like a poison, until I'm scared from head to toe. But not for myself. Not anymore. I'm scared for Kilorn, for the idiotic thing he's going to do.
He's going to find Farley. And he's going to join her." (pp. 166-167)

I loved Maven until the very last second. I kept waiting for him to save Mare, to save Cal, to take down his mother. I held on to any shred of hope that he would realize the mistake he had made. But by the time I was reading the Epilogue, I knew that Maven was the real villain. We knew Elara was evil from the beginning, but Maven won me over. Yes, in the back of my head I knew he was his mothers child and that I shouldn't trust anyone, but I pushed those voices away and let myself fall for him and now I sit here brokenhearted with no one to trust.

(Source: Giphy)
I'm glad that I finally read this book, I know what everyone is talking about now. Of course, I can't read the next one until I finish the #MakeMeRead challenge, so I have to wait a little bit, but I'm excited for when that time comes.

Rating: 10/10
Pages: 383 (hardcover)
Series: Red Queen
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopia

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