Review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2)

Author: Victoria Aveyard

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Photo by GoodReads

Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins Publishers)

Synopsis: If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

***

Odds are, if you’re a reader, writer, frequent Netflixer, or if you partake in any activity that invites you to experience a story firsthand, you’ve come to understand the “Second Book Slump” (or perhaps, the “Second Season Slump).

In my experience, the “Second Book Slump” is a common trap for stories to fall into–it’s a time where the writing becomes less assured, plot points become scrambled, and characters can begin a descent into becoming someone that you literally couldn’t care less about. Unfortunately, this can be the turning point for many fantastic stories and sometimes, it can even bring the story to enter a state of disrepair from which there is no return.

Upon starting Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, the sequel to Red Queen, I had many expectations. One of the most prominent, however, was my prediction that it would indeed enter into an understandable yet disappointing state of the Second Book Slump.

After finishing RQ, the story of Mare Barrow was left with a rather open end–what would become of her? Of the revolution? Would her society crumble or, in the words of Aveyard, would it “Rise, Red as the dawn”?

Glass Sword did in more than one way satisfy my expectations for Mare’s fight for justice. Major players such as Mare, Kilorn, Cal, even Maven, develop immensely in the sequel. Mare becomes an empowered leader (though she wishes she wasn’t), while Kilorn dedicates himself entirely to the cause, and Cal, who was once reluctant to join the revolution at all, becomes committed to it. Maven’s character, who developmentally is one of my favorites, explores new depths and provokes much controversy. The duality seen in Maven is one of the strongest parts of Aveyard’s story.

Another key success of Glass Sword lies in the author’s voice. I’ve previously established that I’m a HUGE fan of Victoria Aveyard’s writing style and I am happy to say, that her sequel definitely increased my appreciation. Her ability to immerse you within Mare’s inner-conflict is exquisite.

“Once, I thought blood was the world entire, the difference between dark and light, an irrevocable, impassable divide. It made the Silvers powerful and cold and brutal, inhuman compared to my Red brethren. They were nothing like us, unable to feel pain or remove or kindness. But people like Cal, Julian, and even Lucas have shown me how wrong I was. They are just as human, just as full of fear and hope. They are not without their sins, but neither are we. Neither am I.”

I never have to question how Mare is feeling because Aveyard’s words share it all with me clearly and explicitly. The divide between Reds and Silvers, which was once so deeply forged, withers away, word by word.

Despite my appreciation for the author’s beautiful writing and the development of key characters, I have to admit that there were definitely elements of a Second Book Slump present.

Following the chaos at the end of RQ, the beginning of Glass Sword fell flat for me. In an attempt to prevent this, the first hundred pages or so cram in oodles of conflict and action, without leaving time for the characters to communicate. Mare and Cal’s relationship, a strained and thoroughly complicated one, doesn’t receive any attention at the start of the book. I may be biased, as a lover of romance, but the two characters don’t discuss this overwhelming tension between them for a long while (to the point where it gets irritating). JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER!

The biggest annoyance I had within Glass Sword is Mare’s character. In Red Queen, Mare was likable. She was strong-willed, compassionate, and defiant in the best of ways. In the sequel, however, she becomes overly self-confident and at some points, conceited. Her dedication to the revolution leaves her isolated, though she is amongst many. This passion leads her to make rushed decisions derived from hatred and hurt and the once charismatic Mare is no more.

Mare begins to feel no guilt for her disastrous decisions and only after a confrontation by a young ally does she start to see her errors. My hope is that this too-confident and vicious version of Mare is just a phase–a result of an inevitable Second Book Slump. In King’s Cage maybe we will be reacquainted with the inspiring, dedicated Mare once again.

Overall, Glass Sword was a thrilling and action-packed addition to the Red Queen trilogy. Though the Second Book Slump left its mark, the book kept me entertained and took the story in a direction that I’m quite content with. I’m eagerly anticipating the third book’s release in February!

Glass Sword – 3.5/5 stars!


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