Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, paperback novel, 383 pages, published by Orion Books in 2015.
Mare Barrow lives in a world divided by the colour of blood. The ruling class Silvers treat the Reds as lower life forms, forcing them to live as servants, menial workers and fodder for the front-line of an everlasting war. While the Silvers live luxurious and leisurely lives, the Reds mostly exist in poverty. The Silvers all possess some extra talent or ability that sets them apart, leading them to believe that they are superior to the Reds, who lack such superhuman powers. Then comes Mare, whose blood is red, but who has power within that may be even stronger than that of the Silvers. The Silvers hide her in plain sight, masquerading as a long lost noble within the palace itself. Despite her shackles, she will try to aid in the revolution that could free the Reds from servitude and drudgery.
A wonderful fantasy dystopia, Red Queen was a quick paced read that I enjoyed. There were some similar elements to other well regarded series, such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, with the abilities that the Silvers possess being very much like those of the X-Men. Throughout the book, the writing was good, the plot logical and the characters well developed.
I really liked the action sequences. The way the Silvers use their abilities was intriguing, though terrible when used against the Reds, who had no hope of defending themselves against such power and strength. I could have been sitting in the arena watching the last battle (or right in the thick of it!) it was so clearly written.
Overall the Silvers were cruel and arrogant, and difficult to like as characters. I have a soft spot for Cal though, he was my favourite character. He too is proud and believes himself and his people to be the rightful leaders and superiors to the Reds, but he is not cruel or dismissive in the same way as the other Silver nobles. He is in line for the throne, but he wants to be a just and kind king, serving all of his people, including those with red blood. This is reflected in the way he meets and treats Mare. The other Silver that I liked was Julian, Mare’s teacher. He was kind and curious, prepared to accept a different social order.
Cal’s brother, Maven, on the other hand, I didn’t like at all. Perhaps it was just the instant dislike I took to his wicked and manipulative mother, the Queen Elara, that had me in mind that he shouldn’t be trusted, or his overly sweet treatment of Mare. I wanted to shout at Mare to keep herself guarded around him! Evangeline, Cal’s betrothed, was a right cow, but very well described. I hoped Mare would overcome Evangeline at some point.
I generally felt sorry for the Reds, and incensed that they should be treated so badly due to the accident of their birth and genetics. I cheered on the Scarlet Guard for taking a stand against their oppressors. I often found myself shaking my head at Mare though. She made some very poor decisions. However, I still liked her, and I really wanted her to realise how she felt about Cal before it was too late.
There was some violence, not much swearing, and only a little romance. Red Queen is a great young adult novel suitable for high school students. There is a sequel coming out soon called Glass Sword, which I am looking forward to. I think this could be another great young adult series.