Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: 12th February 2015
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow 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.
Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst 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.
I am a bit late to the game when it comes to reading Red Queen and I’m quite glad I waited. I remember it being released and seeing largely positive reviews (actually, as I recall people raved about it) but the book largely past me by. I was intrigued by this book when it was released, but I was fatigued after the YA genre had been awash with these dystopian trilogies. I’m glad I waited to read this when I felt like reading it rather than because that is what’s cool to read because it meant I got to enjoy it.
This book is all about social hierarchy, you’ve got your Silvers, who are the elite in society, who rule and control the land with an iron fist. They view themselves as lenient masters who allow the Reds to live as they do, preventing them from starving. The Reds are the lower class, the servants and the workers who claw and scrape to survive, eager for employment otherwise they face being conscripted at the age of 18 to fight a war they will probably never see any benefit from. It’s a hard life for the Reds, they are downtrodden and have no hope of overthrowing their elite masters as the Silvers possess terrifying powers which lead it to being practically impossible to defeat them.
Red Queen follows Mare Barrow, a Red girl who is fast approaching conscription age and has not hope of finding a job as she possesses few skills. A series of events, which I won’t reveal here because I hate to spoil things for you, leads her to working in the palace where she reveals to all she is far more than she seems. The Silvers are no longer the only ones with powers, she too possesses abilities and these abilities may be more powerful than she can ever hope. Obviously, no one can know of the abilities she possesses, the Reds might get ideas about themselves and it would destabilise the entire ruling system, so they disguise her as a long lost Silver noble and she is left to pretend and live amongst people who would happily kill her if they knew the truth.
Why I Liked Aforementioned Premise
It’s a really intriguing story, I mean I love a good book with a complex social hierarchy. The social structure within is very much based on the old class system which isn’t exactly unique, but I enjoyed reading the book. I would have liked to know more about the politics and the social structure within the two classes, but get why that couldn’t be expanded upon in a single book, especially when the book is told from the perspective of Mare, who is naive in many ways, and ignorant of political intrigue. I certainly hope it could be expanded upon in future books, but I know it’s far more likely we’ll be following something completely different in those books.
The various abilities the Silvers possessed intrigued me. Sure, this is probably because it’s reminiscent of X-Men and mutant abilities which I love, but I also found it interesting how the abilities worked and the limits upon them, demonstrating that even the Silvers had limits upon them. You needed that, because otherwise the Silvers would have appeared inhuman, and you would have alienated readers against them as you couldn’t sympathise with them. I found it interesting that the Silvers are initially demonstrated as being cruel and unfeeling until Mare became one of them and witnessed that they live with a similar illusion of freedom as the Reds, they just have greater comfort as they do so and it is easer to ignore the
So, Let’s Summarise
This book was not unique, but it was enjoyable. It did not redefine the dystopian genre, it didn’t even really even crack the mould, let alone break it, but what was within the book was enjoyable. It may have been more enjoyable if it hadn’t been released at the tail end of the dystopian fiction craze but instead towards the beginning, then what was within the book may have seemed more ground-breaking. Unfortunately, that was not the case. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it though. It was a good book, the characters were interesting and it was an enjoyable book, it was just upsetting it could not have been more.
Also, I feel I should clarify the post title for you, this was a quote from the book and I loved it because it completely summarises how so many YA dystopian books go, there is always some grand romance that is central to the books and the rebellion in some way. It’s basically ridiculous and it was nice for a book to acknowledge the absurdity.
“You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenage love story? I can’t believe this.”
Have you read any books that you felt have been published a bit too late for it to be able to claim originality and instead feel like they recycling old ideas? And have you read a book where the ideas aren’t original (it’s hard to claim originality nowadays) but the way they’re implemented are different and unique?