Book Reviews

Review: “Red Queen,” Victoria Aveyard

February 4, 2016

I received this book for free from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Red Queen,” Victoria AveyardRed Queenby Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Orion on February, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 383
Source: Hachette Australia
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ...

Red Queen was one of those ‘hype books’ of 2015 that I never really saw myself reading, but I hadn’t exactly given up on the idea, either. For me, it came with the slew of titles that attempted to capture the same sort of magic the Throne of Glass series had created previously and I didn’t expect it to deliver anything original.

 “The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”
– Mare

However, with the imminent release of Glass Sword, I thought I might finally pick up this debut by Victoria Aveyard. I’ve been on quite the high fantasy YA blitz recently and thought myself in the right frame of mind to really enjoy this title!

Unfortunately, Red Queen never really reeled me in. I felt detached from the characters from beginning to end and never found myself caring about the world or the relationships that had formed. I considered DNF’ing around the halfway mark, but as I firmly believe in sticking it out until the end, I decided to trudge on. It’s a pretty tough thing to do when you can see that the story won’t be improving for you.

Mare Barrow was quite the wishy-washy leading lady. I felt she was constantly living up to some weird expectation that she was a tough girl, but inside she was quite ‘squishy’. Mare never felt genuine or relatable to me and that was a big part of why I didn’t enjoy Red Queen. She also suffered from ‘special snowflake syndrome’, in which she was a normal ‘Red’ girl who possessed ‘Silver’ powers. Gasp – she was more powerful than any red OR silver combined.

“I told you to hide your heart once. You should have listened.”
– Maven

As for the love interests, I have no idea who we were supposed to root for or even care about. I don’t think Mare had any idea, either. There was Kilorn, the boy she’s known and cared about since they grew up together in the Stilts. There was Cal, the Crown Prince who saves her from conscription and teaches her to dance. And there was also Maven, Cal’s younger brother who encourages the plight of the Reds and is kind of second-best to Cal in all things.

I didn’t particularly like ANY of the love interests, or feel like any of them had a chance to grow throughout the events of Red Queen. Mare was constantly flipping between the three of them when it came to who held her highest affections, but she never really committed to anyone more than anyone else. I just didn’t feel that burn that told me I was feeling the romance on any level. It was quite a letdown. I think it was more of a case of TOO MANY CHOICES, and not enough room for anything to develop.

“In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.”
– Mare

Plot-wise, things moved slowly and weren’t very exciting. There was the growing rebellion of the Reds in the form of an underground movement, which should have been captivating, but wasn’t. There was also a lot of Mare pretending to be a Silver-born lady and learning the ropes when it came to etiquette, harnessing her powers and navigating the minefield that was well-to-do society.

I don’t know what to say other than it was just way too bland for me.

Things picked up a TINY bit in the final arena battle, but not enough for me to really want to continue the series. I probably won’t be picking up Glass Sword, but I may change my mind closer to the release date if I feel as if I am willing to give Victoria Aveyard’s series another chance.

In terms of similar reads, I would liken it to The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. There was something about that book that held me back, too, and I found that a lot of the problems I had with The Winner’s Trilogy, I found within Red Queen.

About Victoria Aveyard

After growing up in small town Massachusetts, Victoria Aveyard attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She graduated with a BFA in Screenwriting, which is exactly the degree being sought after in a recession. She tries her best to combine her love of history, explosions, and butt-kicking heroines in her writing. Her hobbies include the impossible task of predicting what happens next in A Song of Ice and Fire, road trips, and burning through Netflix.


  • Reply Bec @ Readers in Wonderland February 5, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    I didn’t really like this either for a lot of similar reason. Mare pissed me off a lot and I predicted the major plot twist pretty early on. The arena battle at the end has made me consider giving Glass Sword a go though, and I’ve heard that it’s an improvement.

    Interesting that you had similar problems with The Winner’s Curse. That was a book I rated 5 stars and didn’t have any problems with. I think I connected/related to Kestrel more and personally really enjoyed the writing.
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland recently posted…Review: Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoMy Profile

    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books February 6, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      I know, right? It was also excruciatingly drawn out and frustrating. I was the same with the arena battle – it gave me hope, but I’m not sure if it’s enough!
      I’m glad to hear GLASS SWORD is an improvement!
      Yeah, I seem to be in the minority of people when it comes to THE WINNERS series!!!
      Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…Review: “Remembrance,” Meg CabotMy Profile

  • Reply Aj @ Read All The Things! February 5, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Great review. I was really excited for this book last year, but I’ve seen so many bad reviews that I’ve lost interest.
    Aj @ Read All The Things! recently posted…January Wrap-UpMy Profile

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