Red Queen #1
Available February 10th
Source: eARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Red Queen is a stunning first installment, painting a ruthless picture of how war is fought away from the front lines and highlighting the degrees of villainy to which those advocating for change on either side resort in their quest for victory. This story is not an unfamiliar one, the relative few in power seeking to squash whatever rebellion the oppressed masses manage to muster, but in the hands of Ms. Aveyard this familiar setup transforms into something else entirely, sinking bone deep and settling in until we find ourselves unable to think of anything else following the turn of the final page.
Mare is an exquisite study of contrasts, showing both remarkable strength as well as very human weakness as she navigates hallways lined with treachery and betrayal. She makes decisions in the name of a noble cause that are hard for us as readers–outsiders free of her burdens–to support, watching helplessly as the war forces her moral compass to shift away from precisely true north. It’s the darker shades of gray she’s forced to embrace that make her so captivating however, her desire to help the thousands at the cost of a few horrifically understandable even as we feel the weight of that understanding settle like lead in our guts. The fight she’s thrust into has no winners–the line dividing hero from villain paper thin and consisting solely of intent as the means by which both seek to achieve their goals are blood-soaked–but through it all Mare fights in a way that has us rooting for her every step of the way.
In and between Mare’s fight to free the Reds from Silver rule is a subtle romance with first Cal, the crown prince and heir to the throne, and later his younger brother Maven, but while technically a triangle is in place, it’s handled with as much finesse and nuance as the rest of the story. The triangle is more a construct of reader imagination given we can't help but wonder which of the brothers will eventually win Mare over, but Mare herself has very little interest in either of them for majority of the book. It’s more that both young men are the lesser of the many evils Mare faces–known entities in a sea of the unfamiliar–and we can feel her need for an anchor as she gets battered about in a storm of Silver.
Overall Red Queen is brutal and beautiful, drawing us in instantaneously and refusing to let go until we’re left with the echo of our heartbeats pounding in our ears when all is said and done.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.