This Friday during the 2015 Fall of the Pages, I’m falling back to February 2015 and the fantasy dystopia Red Queen. ( Technically, all dystopias are “fantasy” as in not real, but what I mean by this is fantastical or having magic) Thrust into an impossible situation and imperial politics, she falls right in the middle of betrayal, rebellion, politics, and genetic secrets. Best of all, it’s the start of a series- Glass Sword will be released February 9, 2016.
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
The way that Red Queen so accurately reflects the world around us today, while projecting us into the future. The way that the Reds are enlisted into “The War” reminded me of when the US Government announced a military “Stop-Loss” in 2004, and has again quietly activated it last year. Mare’s father’s disabilities from the war acutely reminded me of stories of how returning and disabled veterans have had to fight for benefits. Mix into that a world of have and have nots divided solely by ethnicity until Mare’s powers appear, and you have a facet of today’s racial issues distilled into a pinpoint.
I also adore Aveyard’s world building- I am a sucker for details of how a world comes into being, and the depth that Aveyard goes to in order to describe and set scenes without going into pages and pages of details is wonderful. You can see the world in your head, and map out where Mare is going, and figure out how things twisted in history to where they are in the present time.
I really liked the complete evilness of Queen Elara, the current wife of King Tiberius (the IV). You know from the start that she is the ultimate villain, and she just comes up with more and more and more evil things to accomplish. And DOES THEM. And just when you think that there can’t be any more that she can do, she ends up having Cal kill the King against his will. O.M.G. THAT is a villain.
Additionally, I really admired the variety of powers that the Silvers displayed, and the way that Aveyard explains how they work. Being a huge fan of series like X-Men, I’m always interested in otherworldly powers and genetics, and when that comes into play and then gets halfway explained, I am entranced.
For me, there were a few things that were a bit predictable, so when they happened I was just *eh*, and then reflecting back on it I realize I was vaguely disappointed as it brought down my feelings for the book.
- Gisa: There was such an emphasis of Gisa being basically the hope and the savior of the family by being an apprentice to a Silver that you could anticipate that something would happen to kill that dream- otherwise there wouldn’t a more pressing reason for Mare to need to get into trouble.
- Maven: Maven was really easy going and chill for being Queen Elara’s son, and really, would he be content to be second place all his life? Especially with having Cal’s perfection stuffed down his throat day after day, and his mom being a telepath AND a mind-controller, she’s whispering in his head day in and day out. There’s no way that he’s fighting back from that, so his betrayal was a surprise, but not unexpected. With Mare’s actions and his family history, it’s no wonder.
The biggest moment for me, aside from the huge cliffhanger ending which was huge, was Mare’s discovery of her powers. In the middle of serving a host of the who’s who of Silver nobility, and the political display of powers for the hand of the prince, she ends up falling to almost certain death- and then all of a sudden NOT- against everything that we’ve been lead to believe in the book so far. That would be my biggest moment, because that’s the start of the ride, like one of the launched roller coasters. And I LOVE roller coasters.
I’d put Red Queen in teen/young adult, ages 13 and up. It would be appropriate for middle school collections that reach grades 7 and up, and I’m sure there are many kids out there younger that would be perfectly fine reading it. Librarian Note: The romance factor never gets really heavy, so the big things to watch out for when doing readers advisory with Red Queen is the violence: there are arena battles to the death, sword fights, and active rebellion, so it’s not fade out violence.
Books that I’d recommend to readers that are in love with this type of genre (what I call fantasy dystopia) would be the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Young Elites series by Marie Lu, The Winner’s Triology by Marie Rutkioski, and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.
That sums it up. Powers. Betrayal. Kills. Rescue. End. *deep breaths*
NEXT BOOK NOW!!!!!