ARC Review: Red Queen

Posted February 9, 2015 / Book Reviews / 8 Comments

ARC Review: Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Harper Collins on February 12th 2015
Format: ARC (383 pages) • Source: Gals on the Same Page
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three-half-stars

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

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.

my thoughtsWhere do I even begin with you, Red Queen?! Let me start by saying for the millionth time that it’s pretty cool that the author’s hometown is right next to mine and that we have a mutual friend I went to college with. Okay, moving on.

I think this one is mostly tough to review for one major reason: it took a lot of power to stay engaged for most of the book. I found that I would get distracted after only reading a few pages. I’m okay with a series-starter that’s focused on world-building, as long as it keeps me interested. I don’t need a lot of action (until the end, that’s when I NEED it) to keep me going most of the time. This wasn’t really the case here, BUT I enjoyed it. Weird, right? It couldn’t hold my attention for more than a few pages at a time but it was really interesting. I needed to know what was going to happen but I couldn’t just get going with it. There’s a good chance I was having some fantasy-related burnout for this book, if I’m being honest. I took a break part of the way through to read a quick contemporary and it re-engerized me.

The characters were also a bit MEH for me. Mare was kind of boring. She didn’t feel like a strong badass lady, which is how I like my fantasies. I couldn’t exactly connect with her for some reason. I’m not saying she was bad or it ruined the book or anything, but she just didn’t seem like she had a lot going on for her. Her whole existence was based on her family’s well-being and how she compared to them. She wasn’t really her own person. The beginning of the book featured her being a thief, but she didn’t really use any of those skills later at all. So is that her personality, or no? THEN, of course, she ends up in a weird love…square? Kind of? But not really? Basically there’s the Prince she ends up betrothed to, Maven, who she kind of likes sometimes and partners up with for most of the book. Then, there’s his brother, Cal, who is the heir to the throne. They had some weird almost insta-love relationship that made me roll my eyes at certain parts towards the end. There just wasn’t enough development of that relationship for me to believe it. And then, obviously, you have the childhood best friend (Kilorn) who pops up sometimes. She’s trying to protect him but they feel more like brother-sister to me. Who knows?

Because the book was constantly saying ANYONE CAN BETRAY ANYONE every three freaking pages, you get the impression that, um, someone is going to betray Mare. BUT WHO? Well, I figured out who. Pretty quickly. But hey, maybe you won’t. And honestly, that didn’t bother me that much. That whole scene was pretty damn sweet.

This may all sound ranty, but the last 100 pages of this book made it all worth it. Totally. (And I’m not saying you won’t enjoy the other 300 pages, because you will! It’s just not nearly as engrossing as the ending.) When the twists and betrayals started coming, I couldn’t stop reading. I kept wondering howww are they going to get out of this mess?! I think some of the stuff towards the end – really the only thing I had an issue with – was the naivety of some of their plan. View Spoiler »  And now I NEED the next book. I don’t want to wait. There’s such a great setup for what’s to come. View Spoiler » I also LOVEDDDD one of the twists at the very end, even though I also kind of saw it coming.

My favorite thing about Red Queen was the writing. I’m not sure why. Aveyard totally has some skills. The style felt unique/different at first but I got used to it. I just loved it. People were turned off by the use of italics a lot, but a) it didn’t really bug me and b) didn’t happen as often as people made it seem. It was just a helpful way to see Mare’s literal thoughts vs. her narration of what’s happening. I loved her comparison of Cal and Maven as a fire needing its shadow.

Most people complained that it was too similar to other books (The Selection, The Hunger Games, GracelingDivergent) but I never read most of the books. Just Hunger Games. Sure, some parts felt similar – but nothing to turn me away. There are some elements of fantasies and dystopias that just kind of get carried throughout books. No biggie for me, like I said, because I didn’t read the books it’s being compared to.

TL;DR

Sorry my thoughts kind of went everywhere but there has never been a more difficult book to rate! Overall:
PROS = writing, ending, feeling of mistrust of all the characters, world-building, actual plot idea/storyline, definitely NEED the second book
CONS = characterization, slow-going plot most of the time, lack of real action until the end, formulaic/kind of similar to many popular books


fun stuff

one wordformulaic.

drink witha glass of water to wash down the Adderall you’ll need to focus.

mc friendshe’d be pretty bland most of the time, tbh.

recommendedfans of heavy world-building and somewhat slow-moving plots with an amazing crescendo at the end.

read if you likedHunger Games by Suzanne Collins, but don’t be mad if they’re too similar…

dont readyou need a fantasy book with LOTS of nonstop action.


lauren saysreadddd

8 responses to “ARC Review: Red Queen

  1. I’m so torn about whether I want to buy this or not. I love the concept and I LOVE the cover, but everyone’s reviews seem to be pretty consistent: the first 75% is boring and the last 25% is amazingly action packed. How do you feel the author did with juggling so many different romantic interests? Was it annoying or did it have you conflicted as to who you were rooting for?

    Cristina @ Girl in the Pages recently posted: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black- Review
    • I actually thought that the romantic interests were done well. People seemed to struggle with it, but I felt like I knew who to “root for” even though the situation is weird! It seemed like a clear-cut answer to me and romance really does take a backseat to most of the action/plot. By the end of the book, it becomes very clear who will or won’t be considered a love interest in the future – but that’s all I’ll say without spoilers!!

  2. I was getting pretty excited for this book, but the more and more I look into it, the more and more it looks like it will be a library book instead of an instant purchase. I’m definitely a little afraid that I won’t like it. :0

    P.S. That is so cool that you and Victoria share a mutual friend. It just shows how small the world really is.

    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover recently posted: Hardcover Lover Confessions (3)
    • I would definitely recommend checking it out from the library! I really wanted to love it because I feel like I know her in some way, but I ended up cancelling my preorder once I got the ARC. It’s just not one I would be ready to spend money on right now. If the second book gets a bit better (which I feel like it totally will!) I’ll probably buy both for my collection.

  3. Hmm, I have heard some great things about this book and mixed reviews from others. You are not the first one to say the beginning is a bit boring. I think I will still give this book a chance, but I will wait until I have the patience to deal with the slow parts. Ha

    Cynthia recently posted: Teaser Tuesday
    • Haha I know what you mean. The writing style itself is pretty engrossing but some of the plot points just didn’t grab me too much. Overall I did enjoy it by the end, but I had to force myself to sit and read it for some reason!

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