I don’t really know what to say about this book. When I heard the publisher was going to let me read a copy I was so excited. I’ve been wanting to read it since YALC, when I read the first chapter and I just found out the next in the series comes out in a couple of months – Glass Sword. Now that I’ve read it I’m in two minds. I enjoyed it – it was well written, great characters and situations with good world development. There’s a plot twist … sort of … and this book is definitely in my top five fantasy reads of the year.
The problem is that it reminds me a lot of other books. The whole thing reminds me of Hunger Games but with superpowers. It’s about a girl –Mare Barrow- who lives in a world where the Sliver bloods are the elite with special abilities while the Reds are normal and left to serve them. Mare is a Red but after a near death experience she finds out that she too has a power. She’s forced to give up all she knows to live a lie among the Silvers while political uprest is brewing. There’s actually a great line in the book used to describe the Silvers:
“The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”
It’s pretty apt.
Mare is an interesting character. She’s sarcastic, bit of a criminal and like most heroines very naive. She doesn’t even want to think what an uprising would do to the war that her kingdom is facing with other nations. One of the characters – Cal – tries to explain what he thinks would happen but she doesn’t listen – of course. TBH she’s not very good at listening to other people’s advice, with god reason I suppose because half the time they don’t give a reason for their opinion – Julian, I’m thinking of you. This book is an example of a plot where everything might have been different if other characters actually explained things.
The plot twist I mentioned earlier shows Mare’s lack of thinking things through, which I guess I’m guilty of too. Throughout the story there are hints of the twist but, Mare- and myself unfortunately, tried to ignore it.
The Queen makes for a great villain. She has some depth to her in that she clearly is the antagonist but you can understand her a bit – not excusing any of her actions of course. She has a crappy marriage and while she doesn’t always act like it, I think she really loves her son.
The two leading males are pretty good as well. Cal and Maven are brothers but they are definitely different. Trying to avoid spoilers but like the queen you can tell there is some depth to their characters. Both are deeply flawed, Cal shows that the most through the story while it becomes more apparent in Maven at the end. While I found Cal interesting, I can’t say that I liked him. I found him hypercritical and classist as the book went on. My view of Maven changed by the end of the book, I liked him a lot at the beginning and a good parallel to Mare but his elitism towards the end ruined my opinion of him.
Even with the great characters this story isn’t going to be my favourite fantasy read. A lot of the plot reminds me too much of Hunger Games. Some of the main similarities are:
- Main character is a teenage girl who lives in poverty but gets by through illegal acts – I find it hard saying Katniss’ hunting is a crime.
- There’s a divide between the people. In Hunger Games it’s the districts against the Capitol while here it’s the Reds vs the Silvers
- There’s a uprising and both sides try to use the main character
- Love triangle
- Lines about how empires come and go. I think Plutarch talks about it in Mockingjay and here there are lines like: “The people rose, the empires fell, and things changed. Liberty moved in arcs, rising and falling with the tide of time.” Nicely written but really similar to what Plutarch says.
- Main character given a similar nickname. HG = Girl on Fire. RQ= Little Lightning Girl.
- The elite hosting blood thirsty games to show their dominations of the lower classes – Hunger Games and First Fridays.
- There’s a scene similar to Katniss traveling on the train through the districts
- Electric force fields which change the characters’ lives.
While I do like The Hunger Games and these elements fit nicely in with Red Queen there was just too much similarities. Especially since these are just the one that most stood out for me. I have loads of notes saying “Hunger Games?“
Overall I liked the story and will be reading the next book but I don’t think it’s going to be my favourite. I would recommend this to other YA lovers, especially those who like fantasy.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Published JULY 2, 2015:
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard: