Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tremain's Book Corner: "Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Reviewed By: Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager
Personal Rating: 3.75 Stars

Book Summary: This is a world divided by blood - red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers.  And to Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace.  Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own.  One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince.  Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

Personal Review: Here I am, picking up another YA titles to read, but I'm trying to grow as a person and not limit myself to just adult reads.  So comes this title, the first in a series by an author that had an interesting story behind it.  Plus, the title had me thinking of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, but this book had nothing to do with that series.  I just like to make random associations like that.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book and found myself enjoying it.  It's the story of the imbalance of power in society and how that power can quickly lead to chaos if left unchecked.  The elites have everything.  They're rich, they're god-like, they have superpowers, and the Reds are the exact opposites.  Certainly not fair in the least, but so goes the hierarchies in their lands.

But there's always a deviation in the plan, and you have that with Mare, who is among the Reds but harbors her own superpower.  Now the balance is shifting as Mare's political desire keeps her alive and constantly maneuvering through the dangerous game.  And a Red may just have the power in herself to overthrow the crown and change everyone's lives.

It's another entry in the popular dystopian sub-genre where you have a female lead at the center of it all.  That's pretty much standard these days with so many YA series and novels doing just that, but hey, if done right, then I'm not complaining.  In this book, Mare is young, unassuming, and slums her way in society as a pickpocket to support her family.  But as her 18th birthday is on the horizon, she knows she must enter the frontlines and fight in a way unless she's lucky enough to get a job to pardon her...but those are difficult to come by.

What I enjoyed about the stories were the abilities of the Silvers, which reminded me of the X-Men a bit.  The world Aveyard constructed was not overwhelming or underwhelming and she was able to interweave her facts and ideas into this world without it becoming messy.  The action sequences were well done and helped keep the pace of the book going along nicely.  All of this ultimately leads to your classic dystopian tale of fighting for liberation as members of society, and humanity as a whole, desire not to be oppressed.  And those structures set in place to restrict the lives of the Reds will crumble.

Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was the fact that even though I could almost compare Mare to Katniss from "The Hunger Games," in this book, much of the "action" is taking place in high court with the Silvers.  It's more about requiring a different level of deceit and games than your traditional battling to the death.

For a debut novel, I felt Aveyard did a great job.  She's not as lyrical as other authors, but uses that form now and again in her writing style.  As I can be a very sarcastic person, I also appreciated the use of sarcasm and "playful" banter throughout the story, as well as the little jabs the author makes on other dystopian reads through her prose.  Plus, the character development was strong, I could relate to them, the love story was in there (as they always are), but not to the point I was annoyed by it.

Is it enough to keep me reading on in the series?  Most definitely.  I'd recommend this title to adult and teen readers who enjoy dystopian reads, and looking for antoher great one to dive into.  Two books have been released so far (the second being Glass Sword) and so far there are four titles planned.  Look for a copy at your library and see what you think about it.

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