One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!
Mare Barrow lives in a world similar to our own, but that has one major difference. It is segregated by the color of one’s blood. There’s the “Silver,” the ruling class of citizens that have super human powers, and the “Red,” the powerless inferiors (and literally the servants) of the Silver. Mare has red blood. Born into poverty because of the color of her blood, she, like her family, like all reds, struggle to survive. There’s hardly enough food or electricity and even less job prospects. Without a talent or apprenticeship, reds are forcibly drafted into the army, forced to fight in a war for the Silvers that has gone on for years. Being recruited means an eventual and agonizing death for most Reds.
With three older brothers already drafted, Mare (who has no job) and her family rely on Mare’s little sister, Gisa who can sew and has the only stable job. Mare is skilled when it comes to picking pockets, but she doesn’t possess any type of lawfully marketable gifts. It is only a matter of time before she’s drafted. In a desperate attempt to save herself and her best friend Kilorn, who is also going to be drafted, Mare dreams up a plan to steal a large sum of money. Their only hope is to pay an outrageous amount to smuggle them both to safety. The plan, though brave, is riddled with problems Mare can’t control, and in a shocking turn of events they fail and her sister Gisa ends up paying a vast price which causes her to loose her job.
Devastated and sick with worry for herself and her family Mare attempts to pick one last pocket before she’s taken from her home. She targets patron after patron leaving a local bar, and she stays later than normal out of desperation. Her last victim, a handsome and mysterious stranger named Cal is the first ever to catch her. He listens to her woes and gives her more money than she could hope for. This initial meeting changes Mare’s life irrevocably. Cal gets her a job at court (did I mention he’s a prince? Mare didn’t see that coming either.) Mare attempts to fit in, disgusted but amazed at the life that the Silvers live. It’s so different and extravagant from her life in the ‘slums’. Mare turns out to be more than she originally seemed. Not only is she a Red, but everyone discovers she has powers like a Silver. But not only powers- powers no Silver should even have, to be able to control lightning and electricity. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to his youngest son, prince Maven. She becomes a strong revolutionary symbol caught in a power struggle she doesn’t truly understand.
You can’t trust anyone in this book because a lot of people want the throne, and they will do whatever it takes to get it. This book is all about deceit, lies, and using others for your own means. Mare is told by numerous others not to trust them because everyone lies. She spends the book learning the history and ways to grow her power, and survive in her new circumstances. She is caught in a love triangle between Cal and his brother her betrothed, Maven. Also, because she isn’t busy enough, she volunteers to help out the Red uprising.
I devoured Red Queen. It’s a dystopian through and through but a lot darker than most already on the market. Aveyard does add an interesting touch with aspects reminiscent of an X-Men comic — namely mutations, powers and sociological subtext. The Silvers Mare meets range from telekinetics and powerful “strongarms” to various folks who can bend fire, light and water to their will. Having them around – especially the Queen who can force her way into Mare’s mind and read her memories- ups the action and the stakes.
If you’re a fan of X-Men, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and dystopians like The Selection, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s got elements of each, which combine into a captivating read. The Red Queen came out in February 2015, which means it’s sequel will be released too far away for my liking!
Click here to see my goals for 2015