AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH 5 extremely well deserved stars!!!
Now that I've gotten that Out of my system. We have Mare (MC), a plucky young Red girl who is bitter about her lot in life. Reds have no power and are treated as trash and servants. After misfortune befalls her family, she meets Cal, a stranger who is Silver, the upper-middle class with special powers. He helps her get a job at the Royal Palace where she finds out he is a Prince. However, Mare is special. She also has special powers (oooh) and from there, she leads a double life as a member of the royal family. This book is about Mare weaving through the intricacies of court life while leading the shadow life of a revolutionary
Victoria Aveyard does a fantastic job creating a world that is uniquely her own, yet meshes with old fan favorites like Graceling and Grisha series. Red Queen is a distopia, but what makes it different is that, IT BREAKS ALL DISTOPIC CONVENTIONS!!!
My favorite line: “You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenage love story? I can’t believe this.”
HAHAHA-wait...it's true. Not tha I don't love teenage love stories, but this was so fresh. Our main Characters are incredibly self aware and don't follow the conventional path of romance and destruction. Love does not dictate all. In fact, Mare knows just how dangerous it is to love Cal and so she doesn't go there. NUH-UH, NOT NOW. It was practical and intelligent to not love her "enemy" (no matter how much the romantic in me ardently yearned for her to do so.)
As for those who say A NEW DARKLING HAS RISEN (see Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo), it's true. Kinda. It does follow the same foil that Bardugo's book did. GOD THE BETRAYAL. IT HURT. At the same time, if it hadn't happened, the book wouldn't have made such an impact. In fact,it would have just felt much too similar to the Throne of Glass Dynamic with Caelena, Chaol, and Dorian. Anyway, BACK TO BETRAYAL. You spend the whole book thinking you know exactly what's going on and then WHAM, you're just thrown off a cliff into shark infested waters with no floaties. At this point, you remember what Aveyard has been telling you the whole time. Repeatedly. No actually, like she says it a gazillion times:
“Anyone can betray anyone.”
“Words can lie. See beyond them.”
“You should know the difference between secrets and lies.”
“I told you to hide your heart once. You should have listened.”
What I wasn't used to seeing in most YA is extremely flawed characters. Aveyard did this better than anyone I can think of (believe me I'm trying.) What we see so often is a flawed main character with an alpha male or perfect prince who helps her better herself. Eh, this doesn't really happen here. All three characters are flawed, and the good ones fall because of it.
Mare, who cannot see beyond her hatred of silvers and the rage at her brother's death. She doesn't heed the advice of multiple people telling her NOT TO TRUST ANYONE. She rushes head first into trouble despite knowing she's already in hot water. She betrays those she loves for a good cause and follows the pack blindly. On this note though, can I just say using Cal's love to bring him down? DAMN, GIRL GOT GAME. ANOTHER CONVENTION BROKEN.
Maven wears his heart on his sleeve and really just cannot decide what it is he wants. The throne? Mare? His father's love? Arguably though, he is the least flawed as he gets what he wants in the end...I will say no more on that, because spoilers.
Cal, deal Cal who feels for the red's plight but does nothing about it. He is strong, bright and the future King. However, he always wants to take the easy way out. He believes continuing with the unfair hierarchy is better/easier than fighting for his citizens' liberation. He is content to live in his privileged world and allow those beneath him to stay there.
Finally, the part everyone actually cares about: the romance. This is not a love story. I believed it was when all the main characters were introduced, but it's not. I believe and HOPE BEYOND ALL HOPES SO MUCH MY HEART PHYSICALLY HURTS RIGHT NOW that it will turn into one in the sequel, but this book is about rebellion, betrayal, and dealing with the consequences of your actions. Fear not though, There is some love, kissing, yearning, etc, but romance is not the focus of the story by any means. Also, don't worry about the love triangle. Seriously don't. I can't explain to you, because spoilers, but it's not an issue. JUST READ THIS.