Title : Red Queen
Author : Victoria Aveyard
Published : February 10th, 2015
Series : Red Queen #1
Now, that’s how you start a series
“They’ve pulled me inside out, swapping Mare for Mareena, a thief for a crown, rags for silk, Red for Silver. This morning I was a servant, tonight I’m a princess. How much more will change ? What else will I lose ?”
This book surprised me in more ways than one : I didn’t expect to like the story this much. I didn’t expect this setting, and the whole world that the author has created. I didn’t expect that I wouldn’t roll my eyes at the romance, or that I’d find the main character so likeable. So, I’m definitely pleasantly surprised to have devoured this book.
And, then again, this book didn’t quite surprise me either : the love interest is pretty obvious from the beginning and, even if the author likes to pave their way with obstacles, you get the feeling it’s going to get there, eventually. I saw that plot twist coming from miles away, and I knew the author would pull a Hans on me.
The road the story takes is an obvious one so far, and yes, it has been done before. But, you know what ? It’s done well.
The writing is impeccable. The story flows from the page and you get so easily sucked up in it, so much that I could probably have ended the book in half the time it took me to read it if I hadn’t worked out a schedule (otherwise I wouldn’t have gone to work, wouldn’t have eaten, wouldn’t have done anything).
The pace is spot-on. There’s never a boring moment, whether it’s Mare acclimating herself to her new environment, or her secret meetings with Cal or the Scarlet Guard, the story keeps you on your feet.
The romance is not too overdone, and coming from me, that means a lot. Yeah, sure, Mare’s got basically three guys pining over her, but she just doesn’t care. She’s not even afraid to use two of them, and she chooses no one when they’re talking over her like she’s a prime piece of meat at the market. The little moments you glimpse in the book are just that, little moments, and the core of the story is decidedly elsewhere.
The conflict is palpable. Mare’s internal struggle and guilt are absolutely delightful because she can’t stop it coming. The tension is everywhere around her, that’s what court life is about, after all.
The pain is heartfelt. There are consequences to one’s actions, and it’s something that you don’t see often in that YA-dystopian genre. It’s usually so easy to brush off the main character’s actions and what they bring to those around her/him, it’s so easy to think “it’s not their fault“. But it’s not the case here. The guilt Mare will feel is real, and what’s more important is that she stands by what she did. She’d do it all over again. She owns up to it, and to my eyes, it definitely earns her bonus points.
So, even if the story lures you in with beautiful dresses and palaces, this is not a Disney-kind of fairytale and it sure doesn’t end like one.