Will Bryan and Robert see red? Probably, since today’s book is The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard!
Bryan’s quick summary:
Mare Barrow is about to go off to war. That’s what happens to all Reds when they turn 18, sent off to the front lines by the Silvers, the oppressive and powerful leaders of the realm. When a chance encounter with a strange man leads her to a servant position in the Royal Palace, her conscription and her ability to see her family have been taken off the table.
During a showcase of Silver abilities, Mare is inadvertently tossed into the arena and onto the deadly electrified shield. It should’ve killed her. Instead, it revealed that she’s a Silver’s worst nightmare. A Red with incredible abilities.
Red Queen is by Victoria Aveyard
So what did we think? (From a reader’s perspective)
1. (Bryan) We’ve got a lot of ideas here that we’ve covered before. Particularly Red Rising and Steelheart with The Selection and a bit of Delirium thrown in there to boot. Of course, everything with the powers was awesome and all the training was great. Fun fight scenes and overall a fun story that bogged down in the middle for me.
2. (Robert) While this is a classic underdog gains superpowers rags to riches story, it’s still good enough to transport the reader into an interesting world. There is enough pace and intrigue to keep the “what will happen next?” page turns going.
Some of the premise seems insufficiently explained and unbelievable: Mare has to marry Maven, the younger prince. Mare is not killed as a threat to the Silvers. Mare has not produced this power before. Mare must be painted silver every day, and if she bleeds, her red blood will spoil the illusion. The one that bothered me most was the “I’m suddenly in the Royal Palace and playing Royal politics, sparring with princes and other paranormal powers etc” but I also think this will appeal to the younger female reader, dreaming of a better life, where they have awesome powers and princess fawning over them.
3. (Robert) Mare is also very annoying. I don’t know how many times we have to be told that “I’m different, I can’t afford to show it or all will be lost. A bit too angst for me!
What WAS good though was that the story belted through at a great lick; there’s enough action (though it is violent and can be gory) to keep the reader tense and engaged and invested in the outcome.
What did we think from a writer’s perspective?
1. (Bryan) I liked that there was some symmetry to this book. It starts in the arena and ends there. We see her as a servant in ceremonies and then as an engaged royal lady during others later on. I think that gave things a certain circular appeal that I enjoyed.
2. (Robert) Agh, Mare! You whiny girl, you! And with all that power, you don’t try to harness it better? You tell me constantly that “one slip and it’s over.” Alright, already!
3. (Robert) And the giant plot hole: the dastardly queen can read minds, yet never exposes Mare’s behind the scenes plans, even when she is suspicious. Dead giveaway!
The betrayal was also as obvious as a zit on my nose, but Aveyard does a pretty decent job of throwing enough red herrings to keep you invested (maybe keeping the reader interested and invested is one of the top things this book does).
However, I really liked the descriptions of Mare’s power, and what she felt as it took her over, something to learn there.
Bryan and Robert’s Famous Takeaways:
1. If your side characters are more interesting than your protagonist, you need to do some more work on your protagonist.
2. I (Bryan) saw a ton of characters with awesome abilities, I kind of wish we got to see them fight more. Maybe that’ll be in book two.
3. This story would have benefited from a good developmental editor – a tighter story/plot would have overcome the simplistic elements perhaps? Get Pierce Brown on the case!
Prompt of the Week:
You grew up poor, but learned that you secretly possess a power that could change the world. You know your loved ones will think you’re a freak when you reveal your abilities, but you have no choice when you need to stop a terrible crime. What happens next?