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Series: Red Queen #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
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.
I originally gave this three stars – for a promising start but nothing that knocked me off my feet. I got about halfway done with the second in this series, Glass Sword, and quickly demoted my original three stars to one-and-a-half. Rarely do I ever feel the need to demote stars for a book once I’m on to the next in the series. The only other time I’ve ever done this? Colleen Houck’s Tiger’s Curse series.
Red Queen was promising. The premise felt interesting in a sea of alike dystopian young adult novels, the cover is eye-catching, and reviews were split 50/50 of love or hate. This is definitely a book you will either love or hate – it all depends on which aspects you are willing to overlook. A lot of these opinions really developed after I finished Glass Sword. I tried my hardest to not include my thoughts about that book
Let’s start with our oh so special protagonist, Mare Barrow. A Red with Silver powers, Mare is your typical dystopian fantasy character – she’s got a special power and is the “first” discovered Red/Silver after landing a job at the palace thanks to a mysterious stranger (the prince, of course). What frustrated me the most was just how selfish, destructive, and insufferable Mare was. She drones on and on about how much she cares for her family but manages to think about her self first in every situation.
The world building was lazy. We were told countless times just how dangerous this world strapped by war, poverty and a huge class division but never shown it. Nothing about it felt dangers. Even with Mare at the palace pretending to be a long-lost Silver and engaged to Maven – all her adversaries were on leashes, they never did anything too destructive. Successful villains do not have limits. Want me to believe someone is the worst of the worst? Show me. Don’t tell me how “evil” they are. This book suffered from a lot of “telling” versus “showing”.
There were so many love interests (Cal, Maven, Kilorn), and while they were not “instalove” affairs to a degree, they certainly weren’t well developed enough for me. I don’t think a single relationship was explored past the surface for even the background characters. It’s hard to believe a relationship when a) there are too many options, b) there is no demonstration of chemistry, and c) the characters lack any kind of development. I’ve read other series where a weak protagonist can be over looked if those supporting him/her are strong enough to carry the plot to fulfillment.
Overall, this opener to the series felt lazy. The lack of world building. The writing isn’t terrible, it’s just lazy. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who expects a smart dystopian with intriguing characters who really flirt with the lines between “good” and “evil”. I wouldn’t even recommend this as an easy, engaging read for those just looking to kill some time. After reading Glass Sword, I developed a lot of strong feelings about this series. Red Queen is a weak starter, and Glass Sword does little to address the problem areas of its predecessor.
My advice, read at your own risk.