Author: Victoria Aveyard
Release: February 10th 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, YA
#1 in the Red Queen quartet
Sequels: Glass Sword (#2), King's Cage (#3), Untitled (#4)
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?
Wow. That was awesome! Seriously, I had my doubts the first half, but this book kept getting better and better as the page count went higher. It had some clichés, sure, but it also managed to break the mold exactly how I pleased, so obviously, in the end I truly ended up loving this read.
First up, I really, really liked the characters. They can make or break a whole novel, and luckily, they were all in some way making me feel something. With a lot of characters, I was conflicted, but it's this very conflict that made me enjoy this so much more. Sometimes I wasn't sure whether to hate Maven or love him, or whether to ship Cal and Mare or not, but ultimately, these warring feelings inside myself made me so much more invested in these characters and their relationships.
And trust me, well developed they were. I loved Mare's change of character within just this one novel, I am so looking forward to seeing how much more she'll change during the sequels, because her character development is already quite astounding. The other characters were also very well fleshed-out and had character and personality, if you ask me. However, the relationships were probably the best thing about the whole book. How everyone is connected somehow and loves each other in some twisted form or another, that's what makes this the real tragedy. There are more tangible forms of love introduced here, and all forms of love are touched upon; friendship, loyalty, family, romance etc., it's all in there and it's heart-breaking. The climax is so beautiful and horrible only because Aveyard managed to make the feelings stand out in such awful sharpness.
Which brings me to my next point, which would be the plot and pace. Honestly, at first it all seemed a bit too artificial to me, like she just threw in random elements of numerous different books, I recognized titles like The Hunger Games, The Selection or Shadow and Bone. Still, these resemblances fade more and more the further the novel progresses and evolves fully into its very own story, becomes its own entity and I grew more accustomed to the pace. Once fully into it, you cannot stop reading. Seriously, I read a bit up until about 35% and after that, I entered the point of no return. That was yesterday and today I sit here writing this review 'cause I read the remaining 65% in one sitting, it was all so gripping. Sure, some things were really obvious and didn't make for great plot twists; but call me blinded or naive or foolish, but the big twist? The turning point? Did not see that coming at all, and the stuff before that, I also thought it would all follow the usual YA guidelines of love conquers all, and the novel surprised me in that respect as well. Which I honestly relished seeing and experiencing, that, for once, a protagonist in YA chooses reason over romance, duty and conscience over feelings and emotions. I applaud you, Aveyard. You have my respect and I love you for it.
Of course, the book has its flaws. Sometimes it blatantly ignores arising questions such as, What's Evangeline's age? Or why is Cal called Cal, how did that nickname came to be? Or the fact that every plot twist other than the big reveal (to me, anyway) was predictable to a T.Nevertheless, these are minor things that I am content to let slide by, especially since everything else was executed almost flawlessly.
In the end, a very well crafted debut novel, with a compelling plot and cast of characters that is extremely intriguing and a cliffhanger that really leaves me thirsting for the next book in the trilogy ASAP.