Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I am going to preface this review by saying that I am unabashedly barbaric, and most of my enjoyment of this book is because, like the crowds of Ancient Rome, I HAVE BEEN ENTERTAINED.

Yes, Maximus. I am. I so am.

I am, however, getting ahead of myself, and there is a lot more to this book than gladiatorial X-men-slash-Avatar-the-Last-Airbender-type battles. Unfortunately.


by Victoria Aveyard
HarperTeen, 2015
YA fantasy, dystopian
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookiehalfrating / 5 cookies

redqueenThis 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 …

Gifly Thoughts


Where oh where do I begin? I suppose I can go start by saying the covers–and the hardcover jacket, really–are awesome. I was fortunate enough to have gone to a Victoria Aveyard (and Sophie Jordan) signing at Books of Wonder a couple weeks back, and did purchase a signed copy of Glass Sword because I was kind of enjoying myself where I had been in Red Queen. I will say that some of the book’s hype kind of got lost on me, though, because as entertaining as it was, I did experience my fair share of disappointments.

I’ll discuss those first.

What I Did Not Like

The convoluted emotional roller coaster that is Mare Barrow. Okay. I liked Mare in the beginning. She had, like most other girls, low self esteem that eventually develops into full-blown “I CAN DO ANYTHING RAAAAAH”. She unlocks lightning powers (+1 Energy! XD), some tutelage in the usage of said lightning powers, a harsh lesson in the ways of the game of thrones, and a bunch of men–and women, I suppose–trying to court her into viewing things as they view them. But as the book went on, she grated on my nerves. I suppose that’s the hazard of a first person POV, especially a female teenager trying to discover herself. You either relate or cannot. I couldn’t really. I mostly wanted her to make a goddamn decision and stick with it. Like, really stick with it. None of this–as my friend put it–“wishy-washy” nonsense. She couldn’t even commit to a dude, though to be honest, I respected her whole “I choose no one” spiel (though I kind of don’t believe it’s gonna be like that by the end of the series…I mean…prove me wrong XD).

All the females in this book.

Bitches be cray. Um. There is a lot of badassery here. I mean, come on. There’s an entire clan of over-powered mutants Silver-bloods fighting up a storm. The whole contest over marrying the crown prince is a frelling gladiatorial battle that pitted Silver-blooded female against Silver-blooded female. This is, to be honest, an interesting take on fighting over a guy. It’s literally fighting over a guy. With superpowers. I just…it was a little much. I hated that there wasn’t any female to really root for. Not one Silver-blooded female had any redeeming quality to her (Sarah and Coriane don’t really count, they’re pretty much neutralized in the story). Not one female in the Scarlet Guard was on-page for long enough to be likable (Farley doesn’t count, she’s way too overzealous and violent about her cause, which, to be honest, makes her no better than the very institution she tries to destroy). NOT ONE. Hell, Elara was the only female I liked because she’s crazy and she knows it.

Love/Hate Relationships

This book could have ended way sooner than it truly did. I mean, I will admit I liked the ending. There’s a lot to be said about a book that turns its main characters into vessels for murderous vengeance. At the same time, there were several opportunities the book could have ended, and at some point the entire book just read like a show where each chapter ended an episode in a vague, cliffhangery way. Good on-screen, but I’m not so sure on-page.

What I Loved

Instead of looking judgmental, he seems sad. Deeply sad in the red-gold pools of his eyes, a little boy lost, looking for someone to save him.

Now…if only Cal can actually make his OWN fire…

Cal the firebender–burner. I mean, when you describe the guy, he’s pretty much the spitting image of Zuko (from Avatar: The Last Airbender) without the scar. Dark-haired, red-gold eyes, can manipulate fire like nobody’s bizness, the crown prince (I could go on, but spoilers…). I was mostly indifferent about Cal for a time. I mean, as I said, I thought he was adorbs because he reminded me of my favorite firebender, but this similarity didn’t completely take over until the end. I am hoping Cal himself goes into his own hero’s journey throughout the rest of the series.

Those showdown fights though. If Aveyard had focused more on battles and less on Mare flailing between the Silvers and the Guard, I would probably have loved this book more. There was an epic training battle between Maven and Tirana which so reminded me of more Avatar battles (I know, I’m a fangirl, what can I say?), so I adored reading about them in the book. The last chapter–the one before the epilogue, that is–was chock-full of action and awesomeness in epic proportion. I wanted more of those.

It’s not hard to figure out who has the advantage here…really…

The world as is. I will say the world is interesting. *SPOILER ALERT* I am curious to see what kind of Red-blooded mutants Mare and her posse will unearth in the sequels. I wonder if any of them can manipulate blood, since that would be just as cool as telekinetic mind-fuckery. Just saying. *END SPOILER*

I do want to know what’s going to happen next, though to be honest, I was fine with how things ended, even when there are still so many unanswered questions left.

(Also, I realize most the gifs I used was Avatar-related. I probably could have used some X-men-related gifs here and there, but the comparison to X-men is totally obvious if you read the story.)

3.5 out of 5 cookies!



2 thoughts on “Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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