Monday, March 9, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': red queen

Name: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
find it on goodreads
barnes & noble

synopsis: 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?

Full, non-spoilery review under the cut!

"I cannot slip. Not now, not ever. I'm one of them. I'm special. I'm an accident. I'm a lie. And my life depends on maintaining that illusion."

What an amazing story. The first thing that I did after I finished this book was put it down and take a deep breath, because it felt like I barely breathed for the entire last 200 pages. This book is filled with intrigue and power plays and corruption, and throughout the entire story, I never knew who to trust. So I basically just ended up trusting no one, and that might be why I gave this four instead of five stars. Because I wasn't letting myself get attached to any of the characters, I didn't really feel anything for either of the two romantic prospects, therefore making their relationships with Mare feel hollow to me. But that is just a personal issue, and other than that I really did love this book! 

Mare is a poor girl from a poor family in a poor world, ruled by a very small few. Mare herself is very Katniss-esque, though maybe a tad weaker than hardheaded Katniss. She is a thief and, even in her low-born family, the lowest, because she doesn't have a trade and cannot bring any kind of income to her family. The only thing she is good for is conscription into a centuries-old army that no one wins, and as terrified as that makes her, she only becomes desperate to avoid military service when her best friend Kilorn is in danger of forced conscription as well. This is when she tried to get them both into hiding, coming into contact with the rebel group, the Scarlet Guard. Then everything gets thoroughly screwed up, and she finds herself in the palace, surrounded by silver-blooded nobility with unimaginable powers. Until they find out that, against her very nature, Mare has powers too. 

What happens then turns from being very Hunger Games in style to being more Game of Thrones oriented. Restless nobles who are willing to fight for a throne, magic beyond Mare's wildest dreams, an evil queen, and two princes who may not be what they seem. It is a thrill ride, perfectly blended between fantasy and dystopian worlds, and it is utterly captivating. Not in a beautiful way, though there are some parts of the silver world that entice and draw you in, but more in a grotesque, 'i-can't-believe-this-is-happening' way. It is the harshness of the world that makes the kindness of Maven, Mare's suddenly-betrothed, and his brother, Cal, the crown prince, stand out. There are others too, who are kind and gentle to Mare when everyone else around her is cold as rocks. Mare herself can be cold as well, for even though Cal is a strange mix of diplomat and warrior, it is Mare that does not hesitate to kill when the situation demands it, and Cal who shows mercy. 

The setting provides a wonderfully frightening backdrop for the story, and I seriously could not put this book down. I absolutely had to know what was coming next, where the next death or betrayal was coming from. And even though I guessed around the huge plot twist at the end, it did not fail to make me gasp in anger and pure hatred.

One thing that I absolutely loved about this story was the juxtaposition of the reds, who have nothing and want for everything, and the silvers, who want for nothing yet are not happy. The reds, and especially the Scarlet Guard, want to rise up for a better future, and though there are some silvers, including Cal, who believe that the Silver treatment of Reds is inhumane, there is really no situation that does not end in bloodshed. There were so many difficult choices made in this novel, in some truly impossible situations, and that made it seem more real to me, despite the hybrid fantasy-dystopian setting. The Silvers, despite their powers (some of which include, mind-reading, telekinesis, water and fire manipulation, light bending, control over metal, and strength) still feared attack, both from the red masses and from each other. Even when Mare ascends to the luxury of the Silver court, she still remembers her life as a Red fondly. Nothing, nothing is what it seems in this book, and I loved how it kept me guessing until the last page.

It's very clever, the way everything is laid out in the end, and I will definitely be hopping on board for the remainder of this series.


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