Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Date: February 2015
Source: ARC from publisher
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Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
The story of the Red Queen is set in an interesting, fantastical world where humans are divided not by the color of their skin or any other physical characteristic, rather by the color of their blood. Those with Red blood are considered commoners, workers, soldiers and less than worthy of walking the streets of Norta. Those with Silver blood are royalty. Silvers have all of the riches, power and even special abilities. Those abilities can range from telekinesis, speed, fire-making, mind-reading, super human strength and so much more.
In this fantasy land is where we find Mare, a Red blooded citizen who lives in the poor part of the city known as The Stilts. It is so impoverished that even electricity is rationed. There are two main options for a decent life as a Red blood: earning an apprenticeship to learn a trade skill or joining the army to give your life for the Silver blood. Mare wants neither of these and believes being a thief, a very good thief, will be enough to keep her out of the army and her family safe for now but fate has something else in store for her.
Out of desperation to do what is right, Mare lands a place as servant to the palace and the Royal Family. An extraordinary turn of events exposes an unknown power in Mare, a power that a Red should never have. The palace moves quickly to cover up the possibility that a Red could have the power of a Silver and claims she is the long lost daughter of a Silver general and is betrothed to the King’s second son. This thrusts Mare into the world of Silvers and she must live a lie daily, pretending to be someone she isn’t. She witnesses first hand the horrible lesson that “Anyone can betray anyone”. Complicating her already imperiled life is the growing Red rebellion against the Silvers and her constantly changing feelings towards both of the King’s sons. Mare must learn to disguise her feelings and do what she must to protect herself and her family, all while keeping the Royal Family happy.
The story is captivating and the characters quite likable and I was felt I was able to connect with them. The writing is not dumbed down or condescending and it held a steady pace. Plus there are enough twists to keep me on my toes. Some I was able to guess, others did surprise me. The final battle scene is plausibly well written with enough tension to keep me up most of the night determined to finish. When the story ends there is no huge cliffhanger to annoy the reader so the components will compel the reader to want to read the second novel.
Overall, I felt this was a The Selection meets X-Men kind of story. I believed it is original and creative enough to pull a reader in and keep them hooked until the very end of the story. I personally cannot wait for the next book in the series to be released. Victoria Aveyard has made a fan out of me.