Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

The premise of Red Queen definitely held my interest - a young girl is trapped in a society ruled by "Silvers" who possess god-like abilities and can master the elements.  Mare Barrow is a "Red," an individual enslaved by the Silvers living among people with no magical abilities. Mare is viewed as a disappointment to her family as she possesses few skills other than a talent for thievery, and her outlook in life is bleak.  She is expected to join the army, but a chance encounter with a stranger leads her to be employed as a servant of the King and the discovery of an ability she had no idea she possessed.  Mare masquerades as a Silver as she learns to control her new-found ability and develops a plan to help the Reds in their cause to gain equality and freedom.


I enjoyed reading this story immensely in spite of some major problems that exist with the plot. I love a book that has high political stakes intertwined with conflicting family allegiances, and in many ways this book definitely delivers a satisfying and adventurous tale.


I was engrossed in the world Aveyard created....but I honestly wanted a bit more world-building than what we were given.  If you're going to a write fantasy novel, you must go ALL IN and create an epic conflict that will captivate your audience. The war described in the book is far too vague and is reminiscent of so many other conflicts that plague YA fantasy novels.  Every territory in this world has a political structure in which there is a Silver monarchy and an enslaved Red population.  If the primary conflict is a power struggle among Silver nobility within these regions and the Silvers possess unthinkable abilities, including mind control, then why would powerless Red soldiers need to be conscripted into the King's army to fight its battles?  This would be comparable to a muggle army joining death eaters under the command of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter books to fight in a war against other wizards......which would make absolutely no sense whatsoever.


There's also the issue of Mare's new-found ability. It takes an extraordinary suspension of belief to accept that Mare's power remained dormant throughout her childhood. Given the degree of oppression and violence experienced by the Reds, it is difficult to believe that she has never been exposed to a stressful event that would trigger her ability and make it apparent to others, especially her family, that she is different.


Although there are some glaring issues with the plot, I am hopeful that some of these kinks will be worked out in the next book of the series and excited to see how the characters will work together to survive given the numerous lies and betrayals that take place at the conclusion of this story.