Anyone can betray anyone…
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was really a book I was looking forward to reading this year. Political setting, war, strife, and what sounded like a strong heroine – it all appealed to me. Unfortunately, for me, Red Queen was a book that angered me about 90% of the way through. It breaks my heart how disappointed I am with this book.
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood – those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own – an ability she didn’t know she had. Except…her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into 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 her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard – the leaders of a Red rebeliion. Her actiosn put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince – and Mare against her own heart.
What really didn’t work for me reading this book was the main character and narrator, Mare. Right from the start, I couldn’t understand her actions. I could have dealt with that – not everybody acts rationally or consistently when you’re fighting for survival. What I couldn’t deal with was her prejudice, her speed to judge and condem before even attempting to understand, and the general sarcastic, cynical, and ignorant tone she took when dealing with the Silvers. I know it sounds harsh, but this is something that stuck with me all the way through the book up until the last 80 pages or so when there were enough things happening that Mare didn’t have time to judge.
Mare was just so bitter about everything, and not in a way that I liked. I understood that her people were oppressed, but her response to it was so not the kind of attitude that changes things in a good way. It was like she had this perpetually sneering tone about the Silvers and everything they did or said; it was suffocating. And this hate of the Silvers was told to us again, and again, and again. Hardly a page went by – particularly at the beginning – when she wasn’t making some kind of snide uninformed judgment and it really grated my nerves. Take this dialogue between her and the heir prince, for example:
“I’m a soldier,” Cal spits, shrugging away from his brother’s touch. “I can’t just sit by and let others fight for me. I won’t do it.”
He sounds like a child whining for a toy – he must enjoy killing. It makes me sick.
Really?! Because to me, knowing everything I know about Cal, it doesn’t sound like he just enjoys killing, but like he’s trying to actually be a good king – like he says. That kind of ridiculous judgment was all over the place in this book, and I can’t tell if I’m meant to like Mare or not.
I was constantly thinking, Don’t be ridiculous, Mare and Shut up, Mare that I couldn’t get to a place where I actually liked her. Her attitude towards certain Silvers was just so infuriating and undeserved it really made me want to punch her in the face. All of this made her a super unreliable narrator and that made me just question her judgments and the accuracy of the stuff she was telling me.
I think the only characters I liked were Farley, and Julian, and Maven. Farley was my absolute favourite but we don’t get to see nearly enough of her in the story. I fell in love with her the second she came into the story, and I feel like I was more interested in her story and what was happening with her behind the scenes than I was with Mare; if it had been Farley’s story, I might have liked Red Queen a lot better.
For the majority of the book, nothing much happens. Things happen, but there aren’t Things happening, no big dramatic, gasping moments that kept me flipping the pages. It actually look me a whole week to get through this book but I was just so unmotivated to read it. Some of the events were predictable, or just not very captivating that I couldn’t find much interest in reading. The last 80 pages are where things really pick up and there are actually surprises happening. I won’t go into details because the whole end is super spoilery, but I’ll just say that the end is probably the only reason I might keep reading the series.
Overall, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was a huge disappointment.