I’ve had the Red Queen series on my TBR pile for a looooonnnggg time, maybe even years, and I’ve finally decided to pick it up and dive on into it. I’m a huge fan of Victoria Aveyard as a person, and I love all of her writing tips that she’s so open about on Instagram. Authors who let everyone know how they were published are real saints; they’re so inspiring to people like me, dreamers who live in a fantasy world inside their head 24/7 but have always thought writing and publishing a whole ass novel to be unattainable. Anyways, I love Victoria so I figured what the hell, might as well start her series at last.
Red Queen follows Mare Barrow, a poor girl who pickpockets to save her family. She lives in a world divided by blood: some people are born with Red blood, some people are born with Silver blood. Those with Silver blood have unique abilities and powers (kinda like super powers), and through history they have squashed Reds to the slums. Silvers have a huge superiority complex, and they’ve forced Reds to be servants or live in poverty, and most importantly: fight in a century long war against a neighboring kingdom. Mare lives a miserable life, knowing her future is conscription into the army, yet everything changes when she accidentally meets the crown prince, Cal, in disguise. He pulls strings to get her a job at the palace as a servant, saving her from conscription. On her first day, a Queenstrial takes place to determine Cal’s wife, where the Silver ladies of the court fight against one another with their powers. Mare accidentally falls into the pit on live television, and somehow withstands the electric barrier that should have killed her. She discovers that she can control and create electricity… contrary to her Red blood. In an attempt to disguise her true Red blood and the fact that she has powers, the royal family betroths her to Maven, Cal’s younger brother. Mare suddenly has to navigate a dangerous life at court, hiding her true self and discovering why she is so powerful while fighting for justice for the Reds.
This book was a very YA fantasy novel, with a surface level world and characters that lacked depth… so I really shouldn’t be complaining. I just think I’ve become that girl… the one who reads YA then gets disappointed when it’s a YA book. Mare was a meh character, her martyrdom/pessimism annoying at times. I really didn’t connect with her at all, and I felt like she made some stupid decisions. Cal, on the other hand… of course I thought he was interesting, and I’m bummed we didn’t get more of him. I knew Maven and his mother were sus as hell, and I saw that one coming a mile away. He was just too conveniently nice to Mare, always encouraging her to act against the crown, and I thought it was obvious that he was using her. However, I liked his character as much as I liked Cal, because you know where he’s coming from… you know where those thoughts of resentment towards his father and older brother originated. I really am not surprised he turned against them with his mother, and I’m excited to see how he acts as the villain going forward. That’s my villain appreciation talking. Kilorn… eh. I thought he was equally, if not more, annoying than Mare. He low-key reminded me of Mal from the Shadow and Bone series… and that’s not a compliment. She literally stuck her neck out to save his ass so many times, and he was just an angsty boy who made dumb decisions too. I used to love the teenage angst… The New Adult genre has seriously wrecked my world. Ugh.
I wish the world building in this first book was deeper… like, I couldn’t really picture any of the scenes beyond just Mare herself. Like, what type of world is this that there is electricity, but no cars or phones? What do the clothes look like? What do the buildings look like? I feel like we hardly got descriptions about why the war with the Lakelanders (who are they again?) had been going on for such a long time. The characters and the conflict just felt so surface level… and there were SO many characters that I thought were unnecessary. I’m all for filling a book to the brim with unique characters, but they all have to serve a purpose. I felt like so many names were dropped but I couldn’t keep track of them all. And we barely got character descriptions! Yeah, yeah… I realize that is one of my personal pet peeves. When I’m reading, I want every last detail about my character’s physical description. I want it alllllllllll. And I want it upfront when we meet them too; nothing makes me more annoyed than finding out a character’s key features later on in a story when I’ve already come up with what they look like in my mind.
Honestly, this book was very predictable, and I’m shocked that there’s enough of a story to continue on with three more significantly larger books. I can’t see where this story is going, and it’s that fact alone that will keep me marching on with the series. Plus the fact that I love Victoria as a person. Based on the sheer size of the next books in this series, I’m really hoping the world builds on itself and we get to see more character development. Fingers crossed. Truth be told, I’m desperately looking for another amazing series to fill the void that ACOSF created. I didn’t really want to acknowledge that I am knee deep in the middle of a book hangover until I realized halfway through this book that nothing I read is really pulling at my heartstrings like I want it to. *cough* I’ll take any suggestions for a good series *cough* seriously though *cough* give me anything *cough*. But I digress, so stay tuned for my thoughts as I continue with the second book, Glass Sword!