Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Power is a dangerous game.
The Reds know this lesson all too well. Mere mortals, the Reds are ruled over by the godly Silvers, who possess incredible powers like ultra-strength, telepathy, fire, and much more. The Reds live to serve the Silvers in their homes, castles, and on the battlefield.
Mare Barrow is one of the Reds. A poor, talentless girl from a large family, Mare faces conscription into the army if she does not find employment soon. When an unlikely circumstance lands her a job in King Tiberias’s castle, Mare soon learns that the world may not be as Red-and-Silver as she’s been taught. Can Mare help start a revolution to help the Reds? Or will her growing affection for the king’s two sons change her mind?
I was slightly annoyed that Mare can’t seem to have any male friends who are not romantic interests. The budding romance between Mare and one of the princes towards the end of the novel was sweet, but I wish I had seen a bit more … romance? I understood the initial attraction between the two (kind of like Peeta and Katniss) but I didn’t feel pulled into their romantic relationship. However, this is the first book of a three part series, so perhaps we will see more in later books.
Feminist Score: A+ Success
Mare kicks ass. Not only does she first land in trouble because she tries to save her (male) best friend, but she repeatedly fights for what she believes is right. And she doesn’t just fall into her power – she has to learn how to control it. The secondary female characters (like the Queen and Princess) are just as powerful and important to the story.
In Mare’s world, men and women are treated as virtual equals. Both genders are conscripted into the army, and the potential princesses need to show off their power to get their positions. Women aren’t demure flowers waiting to be protected by men; they are warriors.
Diversity Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort
Red Queen did a great job discussing economic discrepancies and class wars. The Silvers have all the power and privilege, and use the Reds to serve in their homes, build their technology, and fight their wars. There is very little economic mobility in this society, and the need for change is a theme that is highlighted throughout the book.
I do wish there had been some other form of diversity in the book. Other than an occasional secondary character with brown skin, all the characters were essentially white and straight. Hopefully we’ll see some people of color in future books.
Awesome Factor: Good Effort
Red Queen was a great adventure story with a admirable, likeable heroine. The world itself – especially the power dynamics between the Reds and Silvers – is really interesting, and I enjoyed the power plays between the Red noble families as well. I can’t wait to see what comes next in Glass Sword, the second Red Queen book.
Cal, the eldest son and heir to the Silver throne. He’s faced with the challenge of ruling a kingdom on the cusp of a revolution. Throughout the book, he’s faced with moral dilemmas and doesn’t always make the right choices.
“…the last two days have been a ruin on my heart and soul. I think life has simply decided to open the floodgates, trying to drown me in a whirlwind of twists and turns.”
The metaphor of the floodgates really appealed to me. I think that often, especially when you’re a teenager, it feels like nothing happens and then EVERYTHING happens all at once.
Fun Author Fact
Victoria Averyard has a BFA in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. I wonder if Red Queen will be a movie one day?
Read This Next
The Selection Series by Kiera Cass. In a reality-show style pageant, girls from various ranks in society compete to be the next princess and wife of Prince Maxon. Pretty awesome.
Post Author: Anisha
Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.