Top positive review
I have trust issues after reading this book
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 26 September 2017
This review will probably go down as the sloppiest review I’ve ever written. What even can I say? My duty to critical analysis and my response as a reader have collided violently. WHAT SHALL I DO?!
Psh, try to conduct a sedate, analytical review and then devolve into crazed, unrepentant gushing, that’s what.
The gist: At some point in the distant future, a specific class of humans evolve. They have silver blood and magical, X-Men powers like mind control, elemental powers, invisibility, etc. They rise to the elite classes and crush normal, red-blooded humans under their collective heel. The society becomes completely imbalanced and depraved, a la the Capital and the Districts in The Hunger Games. But one day, a Red girl named Mare discovers that she has both red blood AND special powers. After that, the Silvers try to use Mare as a pawn, there’s a rebellion, lots of bloodshed, and a love trident. (You read that right. A love TRIDENT, not a triangle. Three boys, one girl.)
Sounds very been-there-done-that, right? Red Queen has been hyped from here to kingdom come, but it has many detractors who have snarked mercilessly, and with good reason. The objective, analytical portion of my brain snarked pretty heavily. Mare, while cool, is cut from the same hardcore-but-secretly-soft-yet-also-mouthy cloth as most dystopian heroines. She has distant parents, sibling rivalry, and three boys who get caught in her orbit—the loyal but snarky boy-next-door (Kilorn, aka Gale Jr.), the noble-hearted but traditional crown prince (Cal), and his younger, often-overlooked but sympathetic younger half-brother (Maven.) Of course, Kilorn hates the princes and everything they stand for, Cal has a witchy fiancee who hates Mare, and Maven and Cal have a frictive relationship thanks to Mare and other family issues. So much of the plot does revolve around Mare and her potentially romantic relationships with these three boys. Whether it’s threatening Cal’s fiancee for touching him (HIS OWN FIANCEE!), watching Maven exchange moody glances with his brother, or sacrificing herself for Kilorn, Mare just can’t catch a break.
It’s got to be hard writing a dystopian in a post-Hunger Games market, because I was drawing SO many parallels between the two. Kilorn’s presence. The rebellion. The bloodshed. The excess of the Capital Archeron. The emphasis the Silvers put on physical appearance and their own superiority. District 13 The Ruined City. Mare’s position as a sort of mascot for both sides. I could go on.
But you know what? I don’t freaking care. I DON’T CARE. I DON’T CAAAAARE. You know what else doesn’t care? My brain certainly didn’t care, because I literally couldn’t even formulate these thoughts while reading. I had to wait HOURS after I’d finished this book to hash my feelings out with Gillian, because while I was reading, my own brain wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise.
I’m like, “But brain—”
And my brain’s like,
*violently shaking it's arms and head*
I’ve never been sassed by my own brain before, but my brain sassed me into submission because it wouldn’t stop binging on this stupid book.
I read somewhere (sorry! forget where) that the author intentionally dumped everything that she enjoys in a book into her own stories, and boy does it show. Superpowers! Forbidden romance! World-building! Cute boys! Unappreciated boys you can cuddle! Brave but maddening, Gryffindor-esque boys! The boy next door! Horrifically tense moments! Bloodshed! Betrayal! Twists! Big Bad Government! Social injustice! Sweet family moments! Uneexpected, irreversible deaths! The crushing weight of parental expectations! THE BIGGEST, BADDEST POWER-FREE SHOWDOWN I CAN IMAGINE!
Gillian called this book a “crack book,” and she’s totally right. Once you start, there’s really no way to stop. Ms. Aveyard dumped everything she loves in a reading experience into her book, and it seems that everything she loves is everything I love. This book is nonstop action, intrigue, and tension (both romantic and plot.) I felt that if I put down the book, something might happen without me. I also spent the entire book sickened with certainty that something awful was going happen, AND THEN IT DID, and it wasn’t what I expected at all. I underestimated the plot and where it was leading. I thought I had it figured out, the neat little twist that would pull the rug out from beneath less perceptive readers, BUT OH WAS I WRONG. That last 15% was like being trapped in a prizefight with Muhammad Ali. It gave me a left and a right and BANG! Sneaky uppercut to the jaw, and I was down for the count.
This book vs. my heart/sanity
This book is a gift. It’s a flawed, cracky gift from the reading gods, and I need that sequel now before I go into withdrawals. Bless you, Victoria Aveyard. Bless your drug-peddling little heart.
Favorite Non-Spoilery Quotes:
“Sometimes I forget you have the legs of a child.”
“Better than the brain of one.”
In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that.
The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.
Points Added For: Mare’s moral dilemma over killing the opposition (v. well-done, in my opinion), Shade, Maven, Cal, Maven and Cal’s relationship, the superpowers, the last 15%, Lucas.
Points Subtracted For: Some really common dystopian tropes, those awful names (of which TRAMY is the worst), plot holes, the rather ridiculous place names, really would have rather this been straight fantasy instead of sci-fi,
Click to see SPOILER
Good For Fans Of: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, crack books, The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski