Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian
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 finally, finally got around to this book. With above a 4-star average on GoodReads and nearly 205,000 ratings, I thought for sure I couldn’t lose! Well. Erm. Behold my rather sad panda negative review of Red Queen. I honestly have NO CLUE how this book is so popular and I’m really kind of angry about that. I feel robbed.
This world is Silver, but it is also gray. There is no black-and-white.
I really expected to like this book more than I did. I saw SO MANY glowing reviews (which I avoided reading in their entirety because reasons), I loved the idea of silver blood vs. red blood + some unexplained combination of the two. And then…and then…and then this was me:
Actually, before the last couple of chapters I was more like:
Main characters are Mare Barrow (a.k.a., Mareena Titanos), Kilorn (her best friend since childhood), Prince Cal, and Prince Maven. Also a cast of side characters who honestly sound much more interesting. Julian, anyone? Colonel Ellyn Macanthos? Farley?? Anyway.
Our heroine, Mare, was a very hard person for me to connect with and mostly I just wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled. She reminds us at least a few times that she is trying to “save” people, yet she seems to be incredibly good at getting them in more trouble than they were in to start with (Kilorn might be the exception there). She’s completely out of control of her emotions. I know, she’s a teenage girl under an extreme amount of stress – I got it, really. But geez Louise, a girl with as much street smart as she supposedly has should know better than to trust to appearances as much as she does. She’s so extremely childish it’s disheartening. Like when her best friend/crush Kilorn joins up with the rebels against her wishes, because she’s trying to keep him safe.
“Mare,” he calls after me. “At least say good-bye.”
But I’m already walking, Maven by my side…I won’t look back, not now when he’s betrayed all I’ve ever done for him.
Yeesh. Control issues much?
Kilorn, I put in with the main characters because even though the role he plays in the actual story is small, his part in the back story is huge and I suspect (hope?) he will be more in the forefront of the next books. I like his stubbornness, though I’m a little less enthusiastic about his collapse in the face of conscripting. Like everyone in this book is a fucking drama king/queen. Give me a break.
The princes. Well. They are about as different as night and day, and yet they are both so perfectly predictable. Yawn. Had them pegged as good guy/bad guy from the second scene they appear in together. Which isn’t necessarily bad…except neither of them do anything unexpected, ever. They are literally just good guy/bad guy. I see the character development there, and I have some question if Prince Bad Guy could maybe, just maybe possibly, be redeemed down the road (maybe after his brainwave controlling mother is out of the picture). I liked Prince Good Guy. I think what he went through in the last couple of chapters will (or should) have a MAJOR effect on him and his actions in the future, which could also be interesting.
“You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenaged love story? I can’t believe this.”
Oh, Farley, I couldn’t have said it better. Because yes. Best line of the book. That’s exactly what this is – and not only that, but trope after trope after trope. Love triangle? Check – only because more is obviously better let’s make it a fucking LOVE SQUARE. Special snowflake? Check – and she is oh-so-special let us count the ways she is the ONLY ONE who can fix this.
“For hundreds of years the Silvers have walked the earth as living gods and the Reds have been slaves at their feet, until you.”
Insta-love? Check – because as soon as certain characters set foot on the page, I went “Oh, yep, there’s one…two…three…wtf?!?”
The plot – obviously the oppressed Reds versus the godlike Silvers – has a decent start. But so many of the parts surrounding Mare are just extremely farfetched and had me squinting at the pages and saying “Really?” out loud. Like the fact that, the very first day Mare starts her job, she’s sent to the biggest Silver event in decades. Where she conveniently produces powers she never had even an inkling that she had. Suspicious much, I am. The queen, who has the power to read people’s thoughts and memories – why does she never catch on to the secret attacks? It just doesn’t make sense.
Also, there is way, way way way way WAY too much romance in this book. Has Mare never even seen a man before? Seriously? I nearly rage quit when I realized that yes, indeed, the Love Square was a thing.
The setting here is X-men meets Lord of the Rings, which was actually pretty cool. Just…I need a map! Haha. Also more names. The descriptions are good, but I need names and big pictures to orient myself, even in a book, and that felt lacking. The world, to me at least, seemed like a combined setting of fantasy and dystopian, what with all the fancy clothes and crazy magical power yet also video cameras and other technology.
Final Rating and Thoughts:
2.5 stars. I tried, folks, I really did. But all the tropes, the sheer predictability, and my extreme dislike for Mare have me giving this one a no-go. I was considering a 3 star rating, but for me the shift to the better side of the middle of the road is whether or not I will read the sequel, and for this one I have to say no. I’m somewhat curious about a few things, but not enough to put up with Mare’s stupid self-centeredness for an longer.