There has been a lot of controversy in the booktube community surrounding this book, and I have to say that I am equally as confused as the majority. I’ve been mulling over what to write in this review for a few days and I still haven’t quite organised my thoughts. Did I like it? Did I find it frustrating? The one thing I can say for sure was that I liked the writing style. Aveyard used a lot of the same descriptors for certain classifications of character, which was a little boring, but I loved her end of chapter hooks. They really contributed to me need to keep reading.
The things is…I really loved the first 50 pages. They were so immersive and did a really great job at setting up the world, the big conflict and giving a general overview of the main characters. The reading experience to begin with was similar to that of The Hunger Games and Divergent, so maybe that’s where people get those comparisons from(?) I wanted to know more about the world and I thought it was different enough to the other things I’ve read to call it original. Admittedly, therefore a lot of allusions to other successful plot features, like arena fighting, Take Me Out-esque dating pool for the prince character, love triangle with brothers, evil step-mother. It’s all there. But somehow, I put up with all of it and just enjoyed the ride.
How Mare came to know about her abilities was slightly cliche and things started to get very predictable and convenient after the first 50 pages. Mare seemed like she could’ve been part of Fagin’s pickpockets to begin with and I was disappointed by how quickly she forgot about her old talents and focused on her new found power. The story certainly didn’t go in the direction I was expecting. I guess I was hoping for a girl vs. government where Mare was this incredible actress who pitted everyone against each other until she toppled the system – that’s what we usually get in dystopian, right? But instead, like Katniss, Mare becomes a symbol for a rebellion that she doesn’t even 100% agree with. For someone with a lot of power, I found Mare to be a relatively weak protagonist.
The first 50 pages are really focused on Mare’s family, and those were the characters I character about. Her mother, father, sister and brothers. For Kilorn, the boy next door who she was probably going to end up marrying if everything was normal, I cared not. in fact I hated his whole presence. We already had two princely love interests do we need this guy as well? No. Her deep found emotion for Kilorn only presented itself half way through the story and I would’ve been much happier had he just been a good friend. Why can boys and girls never be best buds in dystopian fiction ? Just because the world is ending doesn’t mean that you need to get with the first guy you see. Because of the first 50 pages I cared about Mare’s family, I wanted to know more about them, I wanted Mare to be going along with the rebellion for their sakes not for some fickle prince. Basically, there needed to be more reference to her family continued throughout the entire story – they were the characters I cared for most and they were forgotten often and only brought in conveniently when we were supposed to feel sympathy for Mare.
Let’s move onto the other love interest shall we. Now, here’s where my main concern lies. Which one am I supposed to like? in attempt not to spoil anything I’ll just say that both princes have their good moments and their awful ones and yet I’m supposed to be rooting for one of them to get with Mare. If she had her head on straight then she wouldn’t love either of them! On the other hand, I was constantly intrigued by both princes. There was so much conspiracy in this book that I’m still not sure who the bad guy is – or maybe they’re all bad guys! Hopefully in the next book there will be a more concrete love interest pursued continually. Maybe it should be Lucas the guard, who was pretty much the only character that had any morals.
The world of Red Queen is fantastic. So many powers – maybe too many, but that’s just me being nitpicky. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good superhero story, and I liked how the superpowers were a mix of X-Men awesomeness and Game of Thrones house systems. Some of the powers were a bit confusing, because Evangeline could control metal but she must also have some sort of telekinesis power to levitate them…anyway if you don’t think about it for too long then it’s a really cool thing to introduce to a dystopian world.
I could talk about this book for a lot longer, because there was so much going on that’s worth commenting on, but I’m not writing a dissertation on it, so I’ll stop there. I may well add more to this review if something pops up that I desperately want to comment on, but overall, I thought it was an engaging story – of a little long winded – and I’ll definitely be continuing with the series. I have to say that I’m not looking forward to the continuation of the rebellion plot line and the added ‘refugee’s sort of vibe I’m feeling for the sequel, because I’ve read that story far too many times before. I gave Red Queen 3 stars!