I used to be the biggest historical fiction fan - and then I discovered YA. Honestly, I had no clue there were books being written for young people until two or three years ago.
But my love for historical fiction is still there, so when I saw Red Queen on Netgalley, I had to request it, because the title (and cover) made me believe it was historical fiction. Turns out I was wrong - it is definitely YA and some mix between The Hunger Games and Divergent (but most YA novels are these days so that doesn't say much).
The world is divided in reds and silvers - reds have red blood and silvers have silver blood. Silvers are rich and have magical powers, while the reds are the slaves of the world (think district 12 if you read The Hunger Games). But then there is Mare Barrow who is red, but with silver powers (I know, it rings like 500 bells). She is discovered and forced to leave her childhood life behind to become a queen. But no one can know she is a red, because she would disturb the whole system.
Then Mare finds out that there is a rise happening - reds want to take over and dethrone the silvers. Whose side will she pick? (I pose it like a question, because that is the main plot element of the book, but honestly you probably already know what she'll do.)
Mare - our very original YA narrator
Mare is the narrator of the book and I quite liked her. She is ripped away from her childhood and placed in a completely new environment with people she doesn't know nor understand. It's a lot for her, but she doesn't become whiney or annoying. She fights through it and she is smart, thank god that she is smart, so we don't have her making any blazingly obvious bad mistakes.
However, Mare is also just a mix between Katniss and Tris - like really really obviously.
Tris and Mare
- don't follow the system of their worlds
- quick learner
- involved in a revolution
Katniss and Mare
- want to protect their family
- involved in a revolution
- love triangle
Now I must say that I haven't read The Hunger Games in years and I have finished Divergent just two months ago, so Mare reminded me more of Tris, but I think that is just biased. The point here is that similarity doesn't make it bad, but the fact that there is nothing new or inventive about the story line kinda does.
I wish there was a plot twist or that Mare would do something Tris and Katniss would never do. I wish she gave me a reason as to why I should continue this series instead of just re-reading another one.
I know, love triangles in YA are like beating a dead horse. It is stupid and useless and it doesn't make any sense why it has to happen so often.
But, even though I think this love triangle was kind of unnecessary, I did like this one more than usual.
Mare is betrothed to the youngest prince, Maven, but she has met his older brother, Cal, earlier and she kinda liked him (read: he is really hot). Throughout the book there is a back and forth and at the end there is a good, though not completely unsurprisingly, plot twists regarding the princes.
What I liked about this love triangle is that it really isn't Mare's fault. She liked Cal and then she was forced to marry Maven. It was completely out of her control, so I can't slack her off for it. I kinda wish it wasn't on the forefront that much, but it was still okay.
So why did I really enjoy this book?
Nothing I've mentioned so far has been very positive, but for some reason, I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't at all what I was expecting and it was cliché at times, but I think it actually kinda worked.
And that's mostly because of Victoria Aveyard's writing; it is quick paced, to the point and drags you into the red world. She doesn't write the novel like it is the newest and best idea someone ever discovered, but she just writes it like it is a simple YA novel, which it is.
She is also really good at building characters and giving them development throughout the story. Good is not always good and bad is not always bad, which made the book interesting to read.
Other than that, I just liked Mare. She is kinda cliché, but she is such a good-hearted person and you can't help but root for her. You want her to come out on top and find her happily ever after, whether that's with her family, a guy or in another society. You want her to win and that keeps you invested in the story.
This book is a difficult one to rate. On the one hand, I see all the flaws in the story with regards to originality. On the other hand, I actually still enjoyed the story regardless of those flaws. So it will have to be a three and a half out of five. It is not flawless, but there is definitely potential - if the writer breaks free from all the other already written YA books.