Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

If it hasn’t already been established, fantasy books are not normally my first choice (Harry Potter was always the exception). However, lately my tastes have changed. I’ve started to crave the heroic, adventurous, and empowering nature of fantasy. Red Queen helped to satisfy this craving (while still providing me with the much needed hint of romance that I require.)

It seems that Red Queen has been somewhat controversial in the book community—some readers claim that it’s better than previous dystopian favorites such as the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies and other readers are completely opposed, believing that it’s just another half-hearted creation featuring a female protagonist fronting a revolution.

Based on these opposing views, I was weary to read RQ. I was afraid that the story was going to hop on the dystopian bandwagon with few new innovations to offer. Luckily, I conquered my fear and picked it up to learn that it did not reproduce a previously established fantasy/dystopian world.

Victoria Aveyard’s creation is all her own. Aveyard creates a world torn apart by class difference that haunts her protagonist, Mare, who was born a Red (the lower of the two classes). Mare’s life has been plagued by her status as a Red, as Reds are treated in degrading and violent ways by the higher Silver class. After risking her life to secure freedom for her best friend, Mare is brought to the royal palace, where she unexpectedly discovers magical abilities that parallel those of a Silver. Mare’s exceptional abilities as a Red lead to the biggest question of all—are Reds and Silvers that different after all?

Despite it’s presence as a Young Adult novel published by HarperTeen, Red Queen tackles some BIG issues such as class, equality, and justice. RQ even utilizes some themes that might hit a bit closer to home such as trust and betrayal. The beautiful weaving of these themes together to form one thrilling novel is one that pleasantly surprised me. I came away from this book with a better understanding of what it means to stand up for what you believe in and what is right. Mare, in my opinion, is an outstanding female protagonist.

Despite my enjoyment of Red Queen, I can completely understand how readers could believe it to be just another fantasy novel to check off of a list of to-be-read books.

There are vast similarities between the plot and characters of this story to other fantasies. The strong female protagonist could be found in various stories—Hunger Games, Divergent, The Selection Series, etc. The unforgiving government and mutilated class system could be found in any of those stories as well. The same goes for the revolution—that’s present in almost every dystopian/fantasy novel. What would a new world be without a little government corruption and backlash from the general public?

These similarities set aside—there is a great combination of fantasy and dystopian in RQ that I found refreshing and new. Plus, I love anything that provides me with a kick-butt female character and a smidge of romance to make my heart happy.

Also, can we talk about Victoria Aveyard’s writing?! Absolutely stunning.

“The truth is what I make it. I could set this world on fire and call it rain.”

I don’t know if I have EVER stopped reading because I was contemplating a line so much. Plus, I was completely flabbergasted by the character that says this and needed some time to reflect. I’m still in shock over the last quarter of this book. SO MUCH GOOD STUFF.

You can bet that I’d be a part of the Scarlet Guard if it came down to it. 

Red Queen – 4/5 stars. 

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