The Monthly Review: Red Queen


Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Published: February 10, 2015 by HarperTeen

Pages: 383

Genre: YA Distopia, Science Fiction


  2 1/2 Stars

“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 picked this book after seeing all the positive reviews and reading the intriguing book blurb (and I’m a fan of the cover. Don’t judge me.). I was sold on the whole super powers thing (I’m a big superhero fan) and the powers in this series were interesting, plentiful, and diverse. While I would have liked some discussion on how they got their powers, it’s possible that will be discovered in another book down the road.

It takes awhile for the story to really get going, and I admit that my attention wavered several times due to the fact that it felt very akin to other dystopias I’ve read. You have the lower class citizens (Reds) that are under the powerful heel of the upper class (Silvers); the main character Mare is a girl that defies her position in what little ways she can (being a supreme pickpocket); she has family that she tries desperately to protect; there are displays of power by the Silvers to break the spirit of the Reds; and once Mare is forced into the world of the Silvers there is a fair amount of pageantry.

Things picked up once Mare’s secret power was revealed and she’s thrust into the world of Silver intrigue and power. However, I had a hard time buying into the king and queen’s decision to claim Mare is a long lost Silver that was raised by Reds in order to use her public display of power to their advantage. As the story continued, there were other occasions where the believability just wasn’t working within the rules of the world. I was ready for some action and intense stuff to happen, which did in some respects, but I found the pacing to be off, which threw me out of the story. It also didn’t help that the major twist at the end had been spoiled for me before I got to it. If that hadn’t happened, maybe I would have viewed the ending differently, but it still felt like the build up died off right before the major twist. Also, I just didn’t feel the emotional impact in the end. In truth, there were no characters I was really rooting for.

There was romance but it wasn’t a clear love triangle like you get in a lot of YA novels. It was more of a confused feelings-fest for Mare. She couldn’t quite decide how she felt about anybody, and there are reasons for that, but there were decisions she made that didn’t jive with her previous actions. The character development just wasn’t there for really any of the characters, unfortunately.

In the end, this book and I just didn’t click due to pacing issues, an inability to connect with the characters, and serious distopia setup déjà vu.


Kill All Your Darlings

Current theme song: “Secrets” – OneRepublic

Current stage in process: Making it better a/k/a revisions

I thought I’d start off with a relevant quote from William Faulkner: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” It states a raw truth about writing and revisions. Sometimes you have to cut something you love in order for something better to take its place. This is a concept that, honestly, has taken me awhile to come to terms with.

As you can see from my ‘stage in process,’ I’m in that zone which many authors loath and others love. It’s that dreaded thing called revisions. While I have completed the majority of revisions for Book #2 of Age of Aspects, it has been shelved momentarily while I work on revisions for Book #2 of a new YA urban fantasy series that I hope to be talking about more soon.

Revisions can be terrifying and overwhelming if you let them. So here’s my advice from years of cobbling books together:


How do you take control of revisions? Well, here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way in my own experiences.


No, I don’t mean physically run away from your computer (but who knows? Maybe that’ll help you, too). I mean you need to mentally separate yourself from your work. Take a break. Go on vacation. Read other books from other people. Don’t look at your own darn words for at least two weeks (although, I would recommend longer). If you’re too close to your work then you won’t be able to pick out all the flaws. Come back to it with fresh eyes. It’s only after you gain some distance that the things  you never noticed before come to the surface.


Once you’ve gained some distance, it’s time to create your battle plan because, let’s face it, chopping at your own work is a battle. Personally, I like to read through my story start to finish and not touch it for that read through (except for fixing glaring typos). Then I have a separate document open where I put my notes as I read through. I organize this document by chapter. Each chapter gets a brief summary so I know exactly where things are in the story when I go back to revise. Then each chapter also gets a bullet point list for what needs to get fixed in that section. After my read through, I end up with a document outlining the entire book and containing all my notes for corrections along with a section at the top that lists issues that are ongoing throughout the whole book that need fixing. This is my battle plan.


By cutting my notes into chunks by chapter, it makes revisions seem a lot more manageable. I don’t have to fix everything all at the same time. I like to find pieces that are the easiest to fix and do a few of those first. Once I see that my story is already looking a little better, I can use that momentum to tackle some of the more troublesome areas. Take it a step at a time. You wouldn’t shove a whole pie into your mouth at once would you? (I certainly hope not). You eat that pie one slice at a time. It makes everything go down easier.


I know. This is a tough one. I used to really, really, really hate doing revisions. I tried the whole-pie-at-once method for the very first book I wrote. You know what happened? I gave myself a stomach ache and I never wanted to touch a pie…err, revisions, ever again. I just thought that’s how it was done. Boy, was I wrong. Also, I wasn’t willing to let go of scenes or lines that I thought were so very clever of me even though they did nothing for the story. I’ve learned that things can’t grow until you burn the old forest down. Not that I want you to, you know, commit arson now. What I mean is:


That small change in how I viewed revisions has changed everything. I’m not plodding through mistakes and groaning about how I have to fix them. No. There’s a great story underneath that I’m just bringing to the surface. I’m making it better.

I don’t dread revisions any more. I actually look forward to them.

At first I panicked, but then I handled it

(Iron Man 3)

Up next, look forward to my book review of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (this year’s Goodreads Choice Winner for Debut Goodreads Author) which will be posted on the last Friday of the month!


New Year. New me. New…everything.

Welcome to 2016. The website’s been updated, I’m working on new projects, and overall I’m feeling hopeful that this is going to be a very good year.

Now for the news.

First things first, I’m going to start blogging! Yay! I will now be among the millions upon millions (including your best friend, sister, second cousin first removed, and grandmother who hardly even knows what a keyboard is) that will be spitting out words into the endless black hole that is the Internet.


Oh, and I like gifs. Actually, I love them. I should point that out right now.

I plan to post bi-weekly. The first monthly post will be about current work projects, helpful links (at least I hope they’ll be helpful), and other little extra tidbits. The second will be on the last Friday of each month with a review of a book I’ve read that month in order to give shout-outs to authors I enjoy and to spread the love.

So, here’s to a fabulous new year. Be heroic. Be amazing. Be you.