Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Red Queen

RED QUEEN
Red Queen #1
Victoria Aveyard
Young Adult/Fantasy
320 pages
HarperTeen
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?


MY THOUGHTS
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.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Victoria:


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.

55 comments:

  1. I am so glad this book is coming out next week because I feel like I just keep seeing reviews for it everywhere. I think I may go audio, I tend to like "epic" stories on audio.

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  2. I"m glad you had a good time with this one, I was quite curious about it. It sounds all so intriguing, the war, the characters, the world. I should try. Plus I love the cover. Great review!

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    1. Isn't the cover stunning? I love how simple it is:)

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  3. Yes! I am so happy you loved this every bit as much as I did Jenny! I can't wait for book two and really am so excited about this genre and series after the last few books I have read! Yay for great fantasy!

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    1. The wait for book two is going to be long Ali! More fantasy, please:)

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  4. Man, I love whenever an author can take something familiar and turn it into something that goes beyond it.

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    1. ME TOO! There were definitely some familiar elements in play, but it didn't feel like something I'd read before. Loved Mare:)

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  5. I've heard so much about this book and your review makes me want to run to Kinokuniya (or the library;)) and buy it and read it in one go:D I love when books blur the lines between heroes and villains because it makes the characters so much more complex! Can't wait to read this and root for Mare!

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    1. Me too Maya! There were all sorts of shades of gray in this book and I loved that about it:)

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  6. Thanks for the review. I've been wondering about this book. I'll have to add it to my TBR pile.

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    1. I'll be curious to see what you think of this one! The reviews seem to be widely varied, but I was a big fan. Obviously;-)

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  7. I'm so happy you loved this, Jenny! I loved the intensity and the ruthlessness of this book too. It was like being punched in the feels repeatedly. I completely agree with you on the love triangle. I'm a little frustrated by how some people are CONVINCED that this is a love triangle, when it really isn't! I can't wait for more from this author and this series. We're going to need to hold hands to be able to brace for everything she has coming for us in the next books!
    Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. YES! Exactly. I turned it into more of a triangle in my mind than it was in reality, Mare definitely could have cared less about romance for most of the book:)

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  8. Oh geez. It's so awkward when someone you're so often on the same page with books-wise has such a completely different reaction to a book then you did. It's upsetting. I'm upset. Not with you though, you I love ;) But you know what I mean, right? I'm equally sorry that I'm unable to love the book that you loved, and that you're unable to hate the book that I hated. Better for you not to have hated though--hate is stressful, LOL.

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    1. Sorry this was a disappointment to you Jessica! I've been there a couple times, Throne of Glass was very much that way for me. Everyone I'm typically of a similar mind with loved it and I just couldn't see the appeal. I've since fallen in love with the series, but that first book was rough for me!

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  9. I've read so many reviews for Red Queen as of late, most positive, from 3 to 5 stars and a few rather negative, but I think that yours has convinced me that this one is a book I need to get for myself and see what I think of it!
    Brilliant review Jenny!

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    1. I think you'll enjoy this one Pili, I look forward to reading your thoughts:)

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  10. I wasn't a fan of this one, but I'm glad you enjoyed this, Jenny! I did like the action sequences and I liked Mare's character... initially. Anyway, lovely review!

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

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    1. Sorry it wasn't for you Aimee! It would be so boring if we all liked the same books though:)

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  11. I loved that you loved this. :) Though not entirely my usual safe read, I do plan to read this one. I mean, seriously, how can I not?! ;)

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    1. I hope you give it a try soon Lisa! I thought the characters were really great and I can't wait to see where things go for them:)

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  12. I ended up really loving this, and oddly in the beginning I almost did a DNF, I felt it was too similar to other novels, but the last 1/3 wow..I cannot wait for the next book and that cover is awesome

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    1. YES! That last third was particularly epic, I definitely did not see certain things coming:)

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  13. I'm not a fan of a love triangle. Imvolvkmg brothers makes it sound worse so I hope it doesn't come to be. I read a mixed review for this so I'm happy to hear this was a win. Fab review, Jenny!

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    1. It's hard to explain Rachel, but it really didn't feel like a love triangle at all. It's more because we as readers know it's fiction and are looking for a romance to come into play that we see a triangle. For Mare, I don't think she would say she's in a triangle at all. She's just trying to survive:)

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  14. Eeeep omg I didn't think I could be more excited to read this one until I read this review! I could probably do without the love triangle, but at least it doesn't sound like an infuriating one. Everything else sounds GREAT!

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    1. It's hard to explain Aylee! I didn't feel it was a true triangle in any way, but everyone will respond to it differently:)

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  15. This is on my YA maybe list for this summer where I will read 12 damn YA books if it kills me (I missed my goal last year) :)

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  16. Wow, if Red Queen is half as stunning as your review for it is, I know I'll be in good hands when I read it! I love the sound of battling kingdoms, beautiful writing and a memorable MC that is layered and complex. I seriously can not wait to sink my teeth into this one now :D Fabulous review Jenny^^ xx

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    1. I really hope you like it Micheline! I'd had a string of not so great reads and this one just felt like a breath of fresh air for me:)

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  17. I've been waffling about picking this one up, Jenny, as I've read a wide spectrum of reviews for it. Your review, however, makes me most curious about it. I'm adding to my tbr pile now.

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    1. It does seem to be inspiring more conflicting opinions than I would have anticipated, but that always makes me wan to read a book more. I hope you love it:)

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  18. I enjoyed this one as well. This was truly one of the more memorable first novels in a dystopian I have read in awhile.

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  19. How did I not know about this book?! I must read it immediately!!!

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  20. Oh Jenny I've had my eye on this one for MONTHS!
    I'm not surprised you loved this one so much and that it completely worked for you. I look forward to be hit in the heart with all the feels hehe!
    Glad this one doesn't have a love triangle--even if some people are convinced is it. I've read some other books where people are convinced there are love triangles and i'm just there like "NO!" haha :)

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    1. It really wasn't a triangle to me at all. Yes, there are two of them, but in the context of this world and Mare's situation in the palace it never really felt like she was torn between the two. She honestly doesn't want either of them for a long time, and then as I said, she's looking for a friend and ally more than anything else:)

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  21. I enjoyed this one and I agree with you, but it did seem like the other books in the genre. I also didn't like the pentangle? developing but I do think that romance will be solved by the third book. :) I so want that next book!

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    1. I'm hoping the romance doesn't get more prominent in future books and turn into something angst-ridden, but we'll see. If things unfold as this one did I'll be a happy camper:)

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  22. I know Nick adored this one and I am really looking forward to reading this one but some of the negative reviews have made me a little less excited. I just hope I end up loving the book as much as both of you did!

    Also I am definitely curious about the romance but it seems everyone viewed it so differently. Some people said there wasnt any romance in the book (and a lot of people who said that are people I know who are not fans of love triangles) but other people felt like there was a triangle and I think that could be a result of it being left up to the reader to interpret the romance :)

    Lovely review, Jenny!!! :D

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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    1. The romance in this one is definitely more open to reader interpretation than most, and I liked that about it:) I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think!

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  23. I know some people has issues with it, but I have a feeling I go more the way you went. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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  24. "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." This statement is exactly why I enjoyed this one, Jenny!

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  25. Finesse, schenesse. It was a love triangle. (I just pretended it didn't exist, which upped my enjoyment. And I definitely enjoyed this story!)

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  26. I'm so glad you loved this one, Jenny! I've been hearing a lot of mixed responses, so I'm not sure this is necessarily for me, but I'm really happy to see that it worked out so well for you. Perhaps the sequel will convince me to give this series a try but, for now, the romantic situation has me put off, sadly. Gorgeous review, dear!

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  27. Thank you so much for this review! I'm still waffling on whether to read this, and I think for now I'm going to hold off until more installments are out. I'm worried about this being a lot like other books I've read, but I appreciate that you think this author handles some seen tropes in a unique way. I'm also nervous about the direction of the romance (of course). I've been told everything from readers saying this doesn't even have a romance, to this book fixes the triangle by the end, to possibly having a third love interest come into play in the future. It's just too many unknowns for me, I think. HOWEVER, your glowing endorsement is definitely appealing, thanks for that dear.

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  28. YES! I adored this book Jenny and so glad you did too. I can't agree more with you here: "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." This is what I liked so much about Mare as a new heroine. And those twists - how about those and that ending? Lovely, lovely, review Jenny :)

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  29. I've heard so many great things about Red Queen. It makes me happy that I was able to pick up a copy at ALA. I'm certainly putting it in March's TBR after your review.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  30. Nick convinced me to read this, even though this isn't my usual read. I'm listening to the audio because I can handle Fantasy better on audio. I have 35 minutes left and holy shit! This is crazy!

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