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Book Review: Red Queen

There is this thing about hunger. It must be satiated or it becomes a gnawing pain that burrows at the pit of your stomach, a pain that you can hardly ignore. That’s the way I feel about books sometimes, especially when it’s a good book: hungry.

When I get my hands on a good book, it’s like feasting on a delicious and well-prepared meal. The anticipation is all part of the feast too: ordering the book and waiting for it to arrive in the mail, is liking sitting at a prepared table enveloped by the delicious mouth-watering smells wafting from the dishes on display. You know you have to wait until grace is said, but you sit on the edge of the seat, clenching your fingers, anxious to dig in.

That’s the way I feel about Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen or, more specifically, about the final book in the series- War Storm- which is due to be released on May 15th, 2018. I feel like I can hardly wait to dig in. So I’m all tucked in to sleep tonight, the lights are  dimmed low, and on the pillow next to me is the latest book I’ve just reread: Red Queen, the first of the series. In the context of the series, this book is like an appetizer- It whet my appetite for the others.

I’m rereading Red Queen now for context. When I’m finished, I’ll be moving on to the others in the series, rereading each book and laying the groundwork for that precious moment when War Storm. I do so hope that this moment does not become anti-climatic, but from the promotions I’ve read thus far, it won’t be.

And just for a disclaimer, this is not a promotion of any sort. I have no vested interest in urging you to read the book, and I am not being compensated in any way. I simply think that the book is entertaining and good for discussion.

About the Author

Victoria Aveyard is an American author and screenwriter. She published Red Queen, the first in the series, in 2012 after she graduated from the University of California’s screenwriting program.

A snapshot of the book

They come around, every now again, these dystopian books that fascinate as they thumb defiance at systems designed to segregate. Book lovers can point to quite a few: Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner; with some of these books turning literary success into movie hits.

I think dystopian books are good for conversation as they indirectly highlight what some may argue is the deficiency of some societies. By creating caricatures of divisive societes, the authors give voice to the underdogs, and strength to the disenfranchized, pitting them against their oppressors in head-on battles which usually only end when the divisive and segregationist systems are destroyed. In this area, Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen does not fail to disappoint. The protagonist in Red Queen, Mare Barrow, is just another girl from the hood, born red-blooded in a society run by nobles whose blood flows silver and cold. Mare is one of many whose order of life has been orchestrated by the hands of politicians who hardly deign to get down into the trenches with the reds, by the privileged who place little value on simple lives. Her parents have more or less resigned themselves to fate and Mare should too. She shouldn’t expect to make it out alive, but she is defiant and she is determined to find a way out for those she loves. Mare comes of age at a time when others like her are determined to fight back.

Preparing for conscription in a never-ending war that has drained the red-blooded communities of their strength and vitality, Mare, in a strange twist of fate, comes into contact with a member of the royal family and is taken away to serve in the household of the king. There, Mare comes into even closer contact with the cruel and cold-blooded silvers who hardly see or hear the red-blooded who must serve them. As an invisible servant at the silvers’ beck and call, Mare witnesses their intrigue and realizes that even among the elite, there are varying levels of power. While on duty, her life is placed under threat. About to become collateral damage, she finds a power, a strength that everyone around her deems impossible. And her life changes again.

To protect the lives of her relatives and preserve an empire built on the appearance of strength and power, she must become integrated as a member of the royal family, the fiance of the prince. She must become one with the system she abhors. And though she doesn’t want to, for he represents everything about a world that she abhors, Mare begins to fall for the crown prince himself, learning that even in matters of the heart, everything is not cut and dry. Living on the edge of a knife, Mare gives the best performance she could muster, striving to live a double life: the dutiful fiance by day, the double-agent and revolutionary by night. Until her secret is blown wide open and she must choose to continue to live a life of lies or stand up for what she believes in, even if it might cost her her life.

My Thoughts

The Red Queen is politics and intrigue all the way to the very end. It is a fascinating read. Of course this is a Young Adult novel targeting primarily teen readers, but you don’t mind that trivial detail, do you?

The book is well written, entertaining and intriguing from the beginning all the way down to the nail-biting finish. If you haven’t read the series as yet, I urge that you do, beginning with the Red Queen.Now, in other readings, I have sometimes found that strong dystopian books can lose their steam in a series. I’m anxiously awaiting the final book in this series and hoping that this is not the case.

Look out for my review of The Glass Sword next.

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Written by AlisaTR

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