By Victoria Aveyard Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction
Reviewed by AB 4/5 stars
If you or your teens are fans of The Hunger Games, this might be the next series for you. In fact, this dystopian YA series bears striking resemblance to Collins’s post-apocalyptic world: unspectacular female character, first person point of view, young (and fragile) sister, destitute family at the mercy of the ruling class, male childhood friend who understands the lead character when no one else does, love triangle (or quadrangle, in this case), impossible odds, and even an arena or two.
However, whereas THG is marked by a fast-paced plot helped along by Collins’s short, unadorned style, The Red Queen gives readers something to savor. While 1st person introspection (from a female character, no less) seems to be par for the course in YA lit these days, most writers seemingly view descriptive passages as the enemy. Not so with Aveyard. I find her willingness to explain her characters’ back stories and her eagerness to show rather than tell a refreshing break from the typical style of YA speed demon writers.
Mare Barrow is a Red, which is to say that her red blood separates her from those of silver blood. Red blood makes you a member of the servant class in this futuristic world where Silver communities enjoy the benefits of technological advances (think hi-tech helicopters and huge flat-screens), and Red communities look like little more than slums. The dissimilarities don’t end there. Silvers have power, with each family having a special ability like the power to control water, or fire, or metal etc. I mean, even the Silver queen is a mind reader. Reds are just normal human beings trying to eek out an existence.
Until Mare shoots electricity out of her fingertips on national television, that is.
A massive state-sponsored cover-up ensues in which Mare is presented as a Silver who was adopted by Reds and didn’t know she had powers until that very moment on television. As a good faith effort, the king and queen present her (the Red Queen) as the future bride of one of their sons (enter two conflicted princes, Cal and Maven) because the world can never know that Reds can be born with powers too. The plot that follows has all of the markings of a great story: espionage, betrayal, rebellion, friendship, loyalty, and a powerful lesson about giving away one’s heart too easily.
With all of the similarities to THG, Red Queen doesn’t end the way I expected, and that is a huge plus in my opinion. I am difficult to fool, but Aveyard fooled me on this one. The third book in the series comes out February 2017, and I am seriously considering pre-ordering, which is high praise indeed. I recommend this series for older teens and young adults because of the pervasive and, sometimes, ambiguous, internal turmoil that is, honestly, just plain heavy, much more so than in The Hunger Games. But minus a couple of language issues that are sporadic, the content is overall clean.
Purchase Red Queen
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