Please note that this is more of an unstructured rambling rather than a review about the book Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard.
I have finished this book 4 days ago, and spent the last 4 days trying to analyze what’s wrong with me. This book, since its birthday in February and even before, was one of the most hyped YA book in 2015. People love it, give it glowing reviews, recommend it to their friends, etc. Frankly, I’ve been putting off reading it because the first sentence in Amazon’s summary said:
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.
Now, I have never read Graceling and decided to not read The Selection because I’m not interested with the premise. I was worried Red Queen will be something like reality TV shows or pageant contest or something. It wasn’t, not really. It turns out that should be the least of my worries because it might be more fun if this was actually a book about beauty pageant.
“Why do you read it then?” you said. Well, it’s simple really. I read a twitter exchange between the author of this book (Victoria Aveyard) and Victoria Schwab-whose book, A Darker Shade of Magic, I truly enjoy. In case you didn’t know, I get my book recommendations mainly from 3 sources: my sister, my favorite authors (via their blogs and twitters), and blogs. So, that settled it, I was going to read Red Queen.
I almost DNF’d this book, but I’m glad I managed to finish it because the last 60 pages or so (almost) redeemed it.
The first 300 pages, however, felt like a strange mix of the popular dystopian and fantasy books you’ve read before. Divergent? check. The Hunger Games? also check. Throne of glass? yup. I know it’s really hard to come out with a new idea for YA fantasy book because there are so many out there, but this one really felt like a book you’ve read before.
The characters. The main character, Mare, is a strong heroine who just want to help her friend and family, but ended up tangled in a rebellion and love triangle(-ish). Sounds familiar? She came from a lower Red caste, but because a Silver prince named Cal sympathized with her, she got a job in the castle where she managed to somehow reveal her hidden power, or as they call it, ability. The king and queen decided to hide her identity as a Red because they’re afraid of potential rebellion, so she was introduced as a long lost Silver princess named Mareena betrothed to the younger prince, Maven.
The main characters tried so hard to make you love them. And I tried, tried, to like them, but they’re just too perfect. They are not bad, it’s pretty much the opposite. It’s almost like they came out of a template book for a kickass YA heroine and her love interest(s). The antagonists, on the other hand, are just pure evil, they were given no background why are they so evil, they just are. It’s kind of cartoonish. These are the bad people, those are the good ones. Even the characters who were intended to surprise you failed to do so because it was just so darn obvious.
The story. You’ve read this book before. The so-called twist is over hyped. You would more or less know what’s going to happen halfway through the book. Nonetheless, it was still fun to roll with it. Like I mentioned earlier, the last part of the book nearly saved it.
Final words. It’s not terrible. Red Queen is an okay book, albeit over hyped. The main weaknesses of this book are the characters and the way it felt like a combo from other popular books. The latter reason is not even a weakness, it is why I wasn’t crazy about it, but this may be the reason why many people actually love it.
Final score. 2.5 stars (out of 5 stars).