Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2015 (Hardcover)
Length: 383 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy
Started: March 2, 2015
Finished: March 4, 2015

From the inside cover:

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 rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince - and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivd fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

I'll admit, I only picked this up for the awesome cover...and the fact that it's received an incredible amount of hype. And hooooooo boy is the hype deserved, this is a great start to a new series I can't wait to revisit.

Seventeen-year-old Mare lives in desolate poverty in a Red village, mere months away from her eighteenth birthday and mandatory conscription into the army. An encounter with a mysterious stranger outside a bar leads to a job opportunity at the palace, and a way out of the army. While serving Silvers at an event, a near fatal encounter awakens Mare's dormant ability, one she shouldn't have because only Silvers have god-like powers, and Mare doesn't bleed silver. In order to maintain the Silvers' position of privilege and authority, the king concocts a story about Mare (now Mareena) and her origins, and intends to marry her off to the younger prince, Maven. In the midst of lessons about Silver customs and training to control her new power, Mare must navigate a new world of political intrigue and power-hungry Silvers while trying to aid a rebellion.

This series, at least the start of it, is a strange yet appealing cross between The Hunger Games, The Selection, and also a bit of Game of Thrones. Mare and the other Reds are forced to watch gladiator-types games fought by Silvers to showcase their powers in order to frighten Reds into submission, all Red children are conscripted into the army at age eighteen with no real end in sight, and the Silvers are ostentatious and entitled with no concern for the Reds that serve them. The Silver noble girls must showcase their abilities in order to be considered as a bride for Prince Cal, Mare must constantly be on her guard against the other girls and their families that try to knock her down a peg, and she must learn to trust no one in order to make it out alive.

I loved the plot twist at the end, I honestly didn't see it coming and it made things deliciously evil...and I can't get into more detail without going into spoiler territory, but it was good. I liked the development of Cal, Maven, and Mare, and Julian was a personal favourite of mine (I love the mentor characters).

If you're looking for a new series with lots of political intrigue, alliances, and betrayal, with some great X-Men-like powers and bloody fights thrown in for good measure, then this is for you. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next instalment when it comes out next year.

Thoughts on the cover:
Just gorgeous, and very much encapsulates the essence of the book.

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