Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult Fiction
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Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 ...
At its heart, Red Queen is a story about oppression. Reds are deemed inferior to Silvers, not because of the color of their skin, but rather, because of the color of the blood that flows through their veins. Reds live in poverty, while Silvers live as nobles who deem it their right to treat all Reds as dirt beneath their feet.
And I guess it’s pretty easy to keep another group of people under your thumb when it’s not a fair fight because these Silvers are not your average, everyday nobles. Not only do the Silvers have silver blood running through their veins, but each one of them is also born with X-Men like super-human powers. It might be the ability to harness fire, water, or even metal, or it might be the gift of mind reading, just to name a few. From an early age, they are trained to understand and master these special talents, not so they can use them for good, but so as to effectively wield them as weapons. The irony here is that even though the Silvers possess all of these super-cool and destructive powers, they still force Reds to fight and die for them in a war against other Silvers that has been going on for generations.
Enter Mare Barrow, a Red girl who accidentally discovers she has super-human powers that rival the Silvers. She teams up with the Scarlet Guard, a group of Red rebels who have decided it’s time to fight back against the Silver’s oppression of their people, and you have the makings of an epic David vs. Goliath- style matchup.
What I liked about Red Queen:
The Superpowers! – The superpowers were, by far, one of my favorite things about the book. The author’s descriptions of these characters, both in training and in actual combat, were so vivid that all I kept thinking while reading was “Wow, this would make for such a cool movie!” The action-packed ending in particular was spectacular, probably the highlight of the story for me.
The Plot Twists – The lies and endless betrayals kept me guessing every step of the way and I love a book that is unpredictable. The lies were convincing enough that I fell for all of the same tricks that the characters did and was just as shocked at the betrayal as they were.
Strong Women – From Mare and Farley on the Red side to Evangeline and Queen Elara on the Silver side, this novel is filled with some pretty fierce female characters leading the charge on both sides of the rebellion.
What I didn’t like or what confused me:
Bad Romance – No matter how great of a catch Mare might be, I found it a little hard to believe that not just one, not just two, but actually three young men were seeking her attention. Even though one of the potential boyfriends turns out to be acting under false pretenses and wasn’t a genuine suitor, the whole romance angle served as a distraction from the overall storyline for me.
Mare’s indecisive behavior when it came to these young men also at times made me question her commitment to the rebellion as well as my original label of her as a strong woman. For that reason, I ended up identifying with Farley much more than I did Mare. Farley was clearly committed to the cause and she even chastises Mare about how romance has no place in what they’re trying to accomplish. My kind of girl.
Mare’s power – In the early chapters, unless I misunderstood, Mare’s teacher Julian stated that she could create electricity from nothing and therefore was superior to her Silver counterparts because they could not actually create the element they could control. Yet, later in the novel, when Mare is imprisoned, she laments that she cannot find a spark to work with to make electricity. That seemed a bit inconsistent or not well explained. It didn’t make the book less enjoyable but it did leave me a little confused.
Would I recommend this book?
Yes. In spite of those few things that bothered me about the novel, I still enjoyed Red Queen overall. It was a quick read with lots of action to move the plot along, and I’m interested enough in these characters to continue reading the series to find out what happens next and who comes out on top in the rebellion.