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.