Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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

Review: Red Queen by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 10, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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two-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.

The mixed reviews of Red Queen and the designation of “crack book” from Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) tempted me into reading it, despite my better judgment. Often, this sort of daring works in my favor, but I can’t say this was one of those times. I was not hugely impressed with Red Queen and slogged through it, even when shit hit the fan at the end.

The strongest element of Red Queen was most definitely the plotting. Red Queen excels at the twisty and unexpected. I was constantly floored by the turns that the plot took. It was surprisingly dark and startling. The end especially was just like whoa. Aveyard puts down a really nice foundation for everything too, so it all fits together really well.

gif horse jump rope

The one caveat on the plot is a bit spoilery, so I’m going into the tags for this. View Spoiler »

horse judging gif

The world building is a bit sketchy, but fun enough. Though looking hard I could poke some holes in it, suspending disbelief was totally doable. The concept of the silverbloods and their powers is obviously total Christina-bait. Basically anything X-Men-ish appeals to me greatly. The various powers are really cool and the battles between those of different abilities were super cool. Much of the world building, though, is delivered through clumsy infodumps, which come apropos of nothing currently occurring.

gif guy in horse mask

Despite these strong foundations, I found every single character incredibly boring. Mare most of all. There’s really no overcoming that. It was one of those cognitive dissonance books where I KNEW I should be really into what was happening, but my eyes kept glazing over anyway. This is one of those books where no one seems to have any interests aside from survival, which means that no one really seems to have any personality. Mare’s only really sign of personality seems to come from her jealousy of her younger sister, who she later mostly forgets about.

Again, I should have loved the romance. It’s a reverse harem of monstrous proportions. There are the two princes, Cal and Maven, both of whom are expressing interest. Then there’s her hot guard, Lucas, who, though not canonly an interest, totally could be. Then, least of all, there’s Kilorn, her best friend from her Red village. Just know that my brain immediately cast Finn from The 100 as this guy, so he’s basically the worst ever.

gif guy tries to jump on horse
I hope this happens to Kilorn if he tries to become a real love interest.

KILORN. The names in this book are incredibly frustrating. Kilorn’s name is by far the most annoying, though Mare, aka grown female horse, is a close second. Of course, Mare’s parents just suck at naming humans, because their other kids are Gisa, Bree, Shade, and Tramy. The latter three are boys. What the fuck is a Tramy? Like what even. And amongst all the ridiculous fantasy names are people like Lucas and Julian, which makes it worse for me. The names were really distracting.

gif pony moonwalks

The other issue with Red Queen is the use of italics. Red Queen is told in Mare’s first person present POV. Despite that, she still thinks to herself in italics, even though we are ostensibly in her head and experiencing things live with her. The entire thing ought to be her thoughts and experiences. More confusingly, italics are sometimes used for random emphasis on a particular word, like the word sparks; you’ll later learn why this was done, but it’s still just the worse, because it looks like other words are being clarified. More problematically, some people can talk inside Mare’s head, and those conversations are shown using italics. I honestly don’t know how many people can do this, because I couldn’t begin to tell which italics were Mare thinking and which were her conversing with others.

Red Queen‘s a hot mess. If you find the characters the least compelling, you’ll probably really enjoy it. I’m intrigued enough that I might find myself reading the next book in the series, but I can’t guarantee I’ll still have even that much interest in another year.

Favorite Quote:

“When I fight, I intend to win,” I say instead, throwing her words back in her fact. “I’m not a fool, Evangeline, and I cannot win yet.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif horse on ice

17 responses to “Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard”

  1. Meg says:

    DEATH TO KILORN
    Meg recently posted…I Can’t Finish BooksMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I SUPPORT THIS. We could really just wipe out most of the potential love interests and start over with a new batch.

      • Lesley says:

        This is something that could – and I strongly believe should – be done with many books! Interesting review, I’ve been keeping an eye on this book because it sounded like something I should love but something was putting me off a bit. Sounds like something that’s definitely not for me now!
        Lesley recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday (13)My Profile

  2. The gifs are just perfect aha. I haven’t read this book yet, but like you said, there’s definitely a lot of love for it. It’s good to see someone who wasn’t totally in love with the book, too, because then I feel like I’m getting more of an idea of what I’m getting into.
    Great review, the gifs were hilarious!

    – Barbara
    Barbara @ My Bibliophile Mind recently posted…A Year in Books ā€“ Scarlet (January)My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Why thank you. Ever since I heard her name, I knew I’d be using sassy horse gifs if I read it. Such fun. Yeah, I wish I could have loved it. There are some great things about it, but without real interest in the characters, I also struggled. I know some people were more into the characters, so hopefully you’ll really like it too!

  3. Damn it…I hate getting excited for a YA fantasy book and then find out it’s crap. Why does this keep happening? I might just skip this one. Thank you for the gifs, they helped soften the blow.
    Michelle @ In Libris Veritas recently posted…Read Play Blog: 2015 Game Releases Iā€™m Dying to PlayMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I didn’t think this one was totally crap. The plot was pretty good, and I’d say it could have potential. Everyone else I know who’s read it liked it more than I did, either because they found the characters more compelling than I personally did or because they’re not as character-driven. *shrugs*

  4. i will be super disappointed if Kilorn becomes a love interest. I was really worried at one point that it was going to happen. It could have killed the entire book for me.
    Steph Sinclair recently posted…Blog Tour: Fairest by Marissa Meyer + GiveawayMy Profile

  5. I haven’t written my review yet but I agree with a lot of this. The italics were kind of distracting, and I never felt very strongly about any of the ships. (In fact, when/if things turned to romance, I felt there was no development. It was suddenly THERE.) I didn’t even know if Julian should be considered for a ship because I couldn’t figure out how old he was. Until about 87% in–when shit seriously hit the fan and I was super, duper shocked, and that super cool big finale scene happened–I found the whole thing kind of predictable and a bit cliched, or like I’d read it before. I was reminded of Divergent, The Hunger Games, and The Selection series, and there was even mention of a revolution beginning with a spark, which, come on, that line is taken. And I just KNEW this book would use the whole “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding” line, and it did. I definitely had issues with this, but I still liked it (maybe 3.5 stars) and I want to read the sequel, but still, I was hoping for more.
    Rachel Patrick recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (114)My Profile

  6. Thelma says:

    *giggle like a crazy person* Those gifs are so good! I took almost twenty minutes to read this (great) review because I couldn’t stop laughing. Thank you for this post, it was definitely the highlight of my day!

  7. Brigid says:

    KILORN….Sounds kinda like candy corn doesn’t it? NO. Where in hell’s fire did that name come from? GOOD GOD.

    I am in love with the horse gifs. Bows to your gif usage skillz.

  8. Ciara says:

    I LOVE the horse gifs!!
    I would be so pist at my parents if they named me Mare. Seriously there are so many other names to choose from… I’ll probably skip the book, but will revisit this post to watch all the awesome horse gifs. Nehehehe!

  9. MJ says:

    I might read this one just because the horse gifs intrigued me so much. Okay, and it does look like it might be a decent crack book.
    MJ recently posted…Purple Eyes Make My Eyes Roll: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie HallMy Profile

  10. I actually really loved this book but I’m not going to lie, your review is the bomb.com. I really like hearing different opinions and you have totally valid points. I didn’t find her character boring but the names *facepalm*
    Nova @ Out of Time recently posted…Book Review: Push – Eve SilverMy Profile

  11. tonyalee says:

    LOL it took me longer then I would like to admit to figure out ALL THE HORSE GIFS. Le sigh.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of this one either. I loved how twisty it was.. and because of the ending, I’m curious about the next book. And THE NAMES. I can’t deal.

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