I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Red Queen Published by HarperTeen on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, YA
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The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Well, what do you know… I actually found myself enjoying this one, despite my initial reservations.
If I could briefly describe this book, it’s Red Rising by Pierce Brown Set in a Castle-Turned-Into-X-Men-Academy. And trust me, it’s way cooler than it sounds. And it already sounds way cool.
It’s a premise we have seen before – in fiction and in history: the people are divided into two classes, the rulers and the ruled. The first are the Silvers, who enjoy the luxuries of life and have various abilities (reading and controlling minds, manipulating elements, healing); we also have the Reds, who toil and work their lives away for the latter, oppressed and living in extreme poverty. And we have Mare Barrows, a Red who finds herself wielding Silver powers – an anomaly, a mistake, but perhaps, a hope for a better future?
First things first, the writing is actually pretty good. I loved how it was set in first person and gave us a very intimate look into the lives of the marginalized and the oppressed. You can really see how they were suffering so much and working so hard for very little. You feel their pain through Mare’s eyes, and it’s not very hard to feel angry at the Silvers in their place. Imagine being a Red parent – you have to give up your children one by one when they reach a certain age because they are conscripted to fight in the front lines fighting for a hopeless cause. Imagine being a Red child, knowing there is no future because your life is in the mercy of people who feel no ounce of compassion for you.
Red Queen immediately gives you these feelings at the very beginning, immersing you in a political war between two classes that has been raging endlessly for centuries. Mare’s feelings are raw and genuine. She is broken by the system and we can feel it through her words, but she tries to fight anyway, because if not for her at least for the people she loves. She embodies a fiery spirit akin to Katniss from The Hunger Games that I embraced completely.
I loved Mare. I seriously loved her. She uses her head, and bids her time even if she is in enemy territory because she knows which battles to fight and which battles to wait for until she has the upper hand. She makes a lot of mistake, trusts the wrong people, falls down and wallows in self-pity for a while, but she is quick to remember the reasons for fighting and uses them as fuel to stand up again. I love reading characters like her because they serve as an inspiration for me to do better. They, like me, fuck up, too, but sometimes you just need ONE reason and ONE reason alone to do something about your mistakes and redeem them.
And you know the best part? She never becomes a lovesick fool. Sure, she sometimes feel her stomach twisting here and there for a certain someone, but I’m sure you and I and everyone else in the room has felt that for someone or for George Clooney… (what? I’m the only one? Oh okay…) In any case, while it’s true that she lets her heart decide the actions for her, it’s never in where boys are concerned. Because seriously, who has time for love and kisses and hugs and rainbows and butterflies when you have a whole class of people to save? I’m glad the romance mainly takes a back seat in this one. They’re not a separate drama but interweaved in the story itself and that’s awesomesauce.
If there is one thing that I didn’t really like about this book, it’s that sometimes it has a tendency to feel dragging. World-building wise and plot-twists-wise, it’s pretty consistent and solid, but there are times we have paragraphs upon paragraphs of details that I wish could have been toned down a bit. This book was really long, and I felt it could have been 50 pages shorter, maybe even more. It came to the point that I sometimes skipped pages just to get a move on already.
All in all, this is a pretty solid debut, and I can easily see fans of Red Rising and The Winner’s Curse loving this one. And oh, those who love superpowers , too, a la X-Men, will find something to love here, especially since I found that aspect of the book really enjoyable and well-done. Whether you’re a fan of Dystopia, Science Fiction, or Fantasy, there’s definitely something here for you to enjoy.
3.5 Hot Espressos