Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 400 pages
Release Date: February 10th, 2015
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Red Queen Trilogy
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. This book has been getting tons of publicity and I admit both the title and the cover really drew me in. This ended up being a well done novel that is something of a cross between Red Rising and Hunger Games.
Mare Barrow is a Red Blood, part of the class of citizens that are poverty stricken and spend their lives toiling for the Silver Bloods. Mare is also a bit of a thief, stealing to help her family scrap by. When her best friend loses his apprenticeship and gets conscripted, she decides to find a way out of conscription for them both. But she steals from the wrong person and ends up with a job in the the Silver Blood’s castle. At first it seems like a blessing, then she accidentally discovers she has frightening powers of her own…powers that no Red Blood should have. Mare is quickly thrust into the complicated politics and intrigue of the royal Silver Bloods.
This was an engaging fantasy read and is well written. I thought the story was a bit slow to start, but once it got going it was well paced.
The book is well written and engaging. It does start a bit slow. The story mostly involves a lot of intrigue. There are some complicated politics going on here. The Silvers all have fantastic magical powers, like being able to control fire or water. However Mare is something else, her blood is red but she has magical power of her own. Mare ends up walking a dangerous line between surviving the Silver politics and helping a rebel group that is determined to overthrow them.
Mare is your pretty run of the mill fantasy heroine. She is tougher than she at first seems and makes fairly good decisions. She has some huge blind spots though and is susceptible to the attention and adoration of those around her. I didn’t love her, but she was okay.
Mare gets involved in a love triangle (yep, not my favorite) with the two Princes. Cal is the heir and is honest and serious; he gets her the job in the castle. Maven is the younger prince, he is funny and charming and constantly in Cal’s shadow. I didn’t really feel like any of these characters had great chemistry together, I was never desperately pulling for Mare to go one way or the other.
I thought the whole deal with Maven at the end of the book was incredibly predictable and I had to roll my eyes at how surprised Mare was, but that is all I will say about that.
The whole Reds versus Silvers reminds a lot of Red Rising; Darrow from Red Rising is put into a very similar situation as Mare. This also reminds of the later Hunger Games books; Mare is basically forced to represent the Silvers and their beliefs against her will and kind of become a poster child for the Silvers.
There is some good world-building here. I enjoyed how the different societies are set up and there is some discussion of the world beyond Mare’s little area. However, some of the world-building was a bit confusing. They have magic and castles which gives the book a very fantasy feel; however they also have electricity and machines which gives the story a more modern feel. There is also some discussion about society collapsing and supposed areas that have been destroyed by high radiation. So at points the story also has a post-apocalyptic feel to it. I hope future books in the series expand on this world some and clarify some of the confusion here.
Overall, while this book didn’t blow me away like I was hoping for, it was a well done post-apocalyptic fantasy of sorts. Mare is an engaging heroine, although her inability to follow some of the intrigue going on around her was frustrating. Her two love interests, Cal and Maven, are okay but didn’t have great chemistry with Mare. The world-building has a lot of potential and I hope it is expanded on in the next book. There is some excellent intrigue in here, the book was well written and engaging. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series.