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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Book Review is here. When I’m in the mood to escape, the first thing I reach for is a fantasy novel. There’s something exciting about the endless possibilities they hold, and never knowing what’s coming next.  Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a dystopian YA fantasy novel that swept me into an intense, dark world governed by blood and secrets. Originally published in 2015, this is the first book in the Red Queen series, which is now complete. I am so happy I waited to read Red Queen. The ending left me breathless and now I don’t have to wait to dive right into the next book! Let me tell you why I am so excited to continue this series.

SYNOPSIS

The world within the Red Queen is divided by blood, in the most literal sense. Those with silver blood possess rare, superhuman abilities. This elevates them above the Reds, who bleed red blood and have no extraordinary qualities. The Reds are forced to serve the Silvers, and the Silvers rely on the Reds’ obedience and subservience to their law and order. But whispers of rebellion are in the air, and the Silvers’ utopia feels like it’s balancing on a knife’s edge. 

Mare Barrow is a lowborn Red who makes her way in the world by pickpocketing until the day she will be conscripted into the Silvers’ army. Conscription is required for all Reds who do not already have a job supporting the Silvers in some other way. When Mare learns that her best friend, Kilorn, loses his job unexpectedly and will soon be forced into conscription, she makes a deal with the captain of a group of Red rebels called the Scarlet Guard.  In exchange for an exorbitant sum of money, the Scarlet Guard will help Kilorn escape and avoid conscription. 

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Mare decides to use her pickpocketing skills to steal the money to pay for Kilorn’s escape. When she attempts to pickpocket a young man at a tavern, he catches her in the act and confronts her. His name is Cal, and lucky for Mare, not only is he handsome, but he’s also kind. He listens to her explain her situation and freely gives her the money she was trying to steal. Cal disappears and Mare does not know who he is or if she will ever see him again. 

The next day, Mare finds herself being escorted to the Silver King’s palace to work as a servant. She soon runs into Cal and learns that not only is he a Silver, but a prince with extraordinary powers, even for a Silver. He is also the person responsible for her new employment and saving her from conscription. 

While working at a public event for the Silver nobility, Mare has an accident and discovers, to her astonishment and that of the large crowd, that she possesses special powers. But she is a lowly Red, so how could this be? The last thing the Silvers want is for the rebels to learn of a Red hero with Silver abilities, so the King and Queen decide to disguise her true identity as a Red. Mare is given a choice: pretend to be a Silver princess and marry the younger prince, Maven, or die. Her survival depends upon her ability to lie and convince the Silvers around her that she is one of them. 

Although life as a Silver feels like a prison for Mare, she soon realizes she’s uniquely and strategically positioned to help her fellow Reds in their cause. Mare joins the rebels and is quickly thrust into a high stakes game of politics, intrigue, and deceit. But the deeper she goes into her own deception, the stark lines dividing Red and Silver begin to blur. Soon, Mare is fighting two battles: one with the Silvers and the other with her own heart. 


victoria aveyard red queen book cover

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Genre: YA Fantasy / YA

Red Queen follows the story of Mare. Separated by the color of their blood, Mare finds herself in front of the silver bloods and onto a path she never expected.

Read more reviews on the Book Index.

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Rating

Red Queen is a fast-paced, immensely entertaining read! It’s full of so many things I love in a fantasy read: a fascinating world, a down-on-her luck heroine with a special gift, a cast of morally gray characters, a tangled web of conspiracies, and a touch of romance. The plot is engaging, and even if I saw some of the twists coming, it was still so much fun to read. That’s because the real star of this show is Aveyard’s writing. 

From the beginning, I was completely absorbed in the dystopian setting and the concept of a society divided by blood. While many YA fantasy books have similar divisions based on physical abilities or magical powers, Aveyard’s theatrical writing style makes it feel fresh. The descriptions of the different Silver powers are vivid and captivating. The book is full of flawed characters who you aren’t sure can be trusted. As the story unfolds, Aveyard does a fantastic job showing us, rather than telling us, about their true motivations. 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Book Review

Mare is an interesting character because she represents inconsistency in an otherwise rigid, hierarchical world. She is neither wholly Red nor Silver, and is forced into roles where her true self is stifled and hidden from the world. I can relate to the feeling of not fitting into the box you are expected to and having to forge your own path. I enjoyed watching Mare begin to accept and own the differences that make her special, even if she doesn’t fully understand them.  As Mare grows and begins to notice these differences in others too, she discovers that the world around her isn’t as divided as it may seem. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, Red Queen is an excellent first book in a series that I rate 4 stars. It’s fast-paced, thrilling, and emotional, especially in the last 100 pages. There are a lot of themes in this book similar to other YA dystopian fantasy books, but this did not bother me because the execution by Aveyard is stellar and I really enjoy these themes! If you are looking for something truly unique though, you may want to look elsewhere. Red Queen has an interesting cast of characters, but at this point they still feel a bit superficial to me. I hope the next book dives deeper into their backstories so I can better understand their motivations. If you are looking to escape into a new YA fantasy, I highly recommend Red Queen

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