I don’t usually give into the hype. I’m anti-anything-hype. But this book wore me down. The constant Tweets, sparkly Instagram pictures, raving Booktube videos and book reviews on blogs twisted my hand.
In hindsight, having read this book twice now there are issues. However, my initial read of this book included me, my audiobook, my headphones and a very quiet Mariam sat on the edge of her seat for almost 9 hours wanting to know what would happen next. The pace and building of tension in this book is phenomenal. With a pounding heart, this book had me gripped into oblivion, believing the world created by Victoria Aveyard so clearly.
But then I read the book a second time and it all fell to pieces. I have been stalling for so long to write this review. The hype made this book something it wasn’t and then I rode the wave of hype and got drowned in it. And then I came to surface and the hype had worn off.
Synopsis in 3 sentences
Mare Barrow lives in a world where people who divided by Silver and Red blood, the Silver’s are superior born with with powers. Mare defies all odds and is discovered to be a Red with Silver powers. Having grown up in a Red world, she must now lie to survive in the Silver’s world of glamour and power.
The stereotypical representation of the stepmother role in Red Queen really frustrates me. Elara Merandus is second wife to King Tiberias. She is portrayed as ruthless, rude, uncaring of other’s privacy and it is implied that she killed the King’s first wife, Queen Coriane.
This stereotypical representation of the evil stepmother plotting against the first in line Cal, Queen Coriane’s son dates the story and is alienating. This representation perpetuates the myth of stepmother being evil. Another stigma females have to tackle, and subconsciously this book is reiterating the stereotype.
Queen Elara is an interesting character but her portrayal is based on a very generic premise. We are never really made to understand why she doesn’t share a room with her husband or why she detests Cal so strongly. Queen Elara’s exposure in the book isn’t enough, her hate is tame. Is she just power hungry or is there more to her hatred?
Mare Barrow is the Damsel in distress
I find Mare whiney, fickle, incredibly self-obsessed and always feeling sorry for herself.
She claims to hate the Silvers for what they have done (conscription) and then once she is swallowed into their world she easily falls into trusting Maven (her betrothed) and disregards the one Silver person, Cal who has helped her from the beginning.
She thinks she is ahead of everyone, but really she is being played.
Mare Barrow always has a man on the go. In the stilts, where the Reds live Mare has her best friend Kilorn, then entering the Silvers world she has Cal and Mavern. Cal is constantly getting her out of trouble, which again perpetuates the stereotypical role of damsel in distress. I would say there is a love triangle going on but it is more like a love square.
Tiberias Calore VII can be more than Prince Charming
Calore also known as Cal. It is unfortunate we don’t really get a chance to see beyond Cal’s shallow personality portrayal. His character is portrayed in a very generic: rich hot likeable guy who gets the girl, in line for the crown, his Father’s blessing, good at everything kind-of-way. I’m reminded very much of Chuck Bass.
We don’t actually get to dive behind his facade. We don’t get to understand his life without his birth Mother or the pressure that he carries as future King.
There is a depth to Cal and we see that in moments like *that* dance scene *swoons* his love towards his brother and his trips to the Red world but this isn’t pursued.
Although the fangirl gushy part of me is still rooting for Mare and Cal to be together – minus the awkward part where Mare is actually married to Cal’s evil stepbrother. There has to be a way to this romance, it needs to constructed and executed carefully. And it definitely shouldn’t take centre stage.
Red Queen wrap up
Basically the setting was fantastic and from the onset I believed in the world. The characters are rough around the edges and need to be filled. Mare Barrow is a diluted version of Katniss Everdeen.
A lot of the things in this book are reflective of what is around in YA at the moment. This book seems to have taken some of Hunger Games, some of Divergent, some of this YA and some of that and smushed it all together. But there is still something. In the next book everything needs to be more convincing, I can still feel a flicker of hope and excitement in me, willing the second book: The Glass Sword to be better and to stand its own.
For a debut novel, Victoria Aveyard has done incredibly, her writing and setting made me suspend my disbelief I guess I just don’t believe in the characters as strongly. I guess I just expected more. It is the curse of the hype. The damn hype.