Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
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 center of those she hates 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?
I avoided this book for a while despite all the hype. Frankly, the cover frightened me! However, when I noticed it on the library shelf, I decided to dive in to discover what the excitement is about. I was pleased to find that the cover is more horrific than the story. Silvers have silver blood and Reds have red blood, hence the red blood dripping off the crown.
Red Queen mimics a Hunger Games government, but instead of a president, there’s a king, and instead of wealth alone separating the masses, it’s special powers. Sort of like what the world might look like if Magneto accomplished his mission to rule the world in X-Men. “Mutants” have the power, so they dominate the throne. Supposedly, in Red Queen, the Silvers descended from gods or angels, but we never get more of a history lesson than that, which left me with questions. Who are the Silvers? Why do they have these powers? And why is there a new mutation in the Reds? If the Silvers descended from or are gods, then it seems like a higher power is in play here, but there’s no hint to the background of the two races. Take the following quote, for example:
In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that.
Compelling, no? Super compelling! Yet, that’s the extent of an explanation. Disappointing.
I was entertained by Victoria Aveyard’s book, but I didn’t understand all the hype. I’m pretty sure I’ve read about similar characters in a similar setting before. Granted, the powers are fun. And who doesn’t enjoy rooting for the underdog or dream about waking up with superpowers? But I predicted the twist at the end early in the book. It was anticlimactic. While Aveyard could’ve written so much more about the depth of this world and gone into more detail about the revolution, she mostly used the romantic entanglements to move the story, which stinks, because I really didn’t care much about Maven or Cal.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Despite the lack of depth, the book deals with themes like trust, faithfulness, repentance, and justice. Mare goes through a painful coming of age, but she admits her mistakes and weaknesses, and fights fiercely for what she thinks is right—the deliverance of her family and her people (Reds). The publisher recommends Red Queen for 9th grade and up. I agree. See the details below.
Age recommendation: 14
Language – mild (shit and hell are used two or three times total)
Drugs & Alcohol – Mare has a drink at a party, which is assumed to be some kind of alcohol.
Sex – 2-3 kisses
Violence – Some combat and supernatural violence. None of the violence is very graphic. Characters get stabbed, cut, burned, and drowned. Some characters are made to do violent things under the influence of mind control - one character gets his head cut off by another unwilling character.
My Goodreads rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Buy: Red Queen on Amazon.com
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.