Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Oh, Red Queen, I so wanted to like you. I could forgive you for the dystopian clichés (because, let’s be real, all dystopians are pretty cliché) and how predictable everything was. I could forgive you for the unlikable characters. Unfortunately, the most interesting part of the whole book is the cover.

Before I go to spoiler city, I will just say that I had to pretty much force myself to finish this book, which I only did because of some great reviews I read. It did get better towards the end, especially the well-described action sequence in the second-to-last chapter (I think it was second-to-last, might have been the last two chapters?), but it just did not make up for how bland the rest of the book the was. The pacing was slow, the characters were not well-developed, and I was just bored. I didn’t connect to the characters so I didn’t really care what happened to them either. I will say a lot of people seem to love it, so it might be worth a try, but if you try it and are struggling, I would suggest just forgetting about it.

***SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT***

I think I’m just going to list some of the more specific things that didn’t work for me.

-Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, came crying to her when he found out he would be sent to the war. She does everything she can (which isn’t much) to keep him from it, and eventually saves him after the royal family finds out what a special snowflake she is. But the first thing he does with his freedom is join the rebel army. He not only joins, he is immediately part of the inner-circle. If he was a stronger person I could overlook that, but he was too weak and scared about the idea of going to the war front, so I can’t buy him as a great rebel.

-There’s a very half-assed love square. A romance between Mare and Kilorn is vaguely hinted at, it’s more of a “what if” scenario if the world was different. I think their relationship would have benefited from being just a stronger friendship. Cal is the obvious love interest in the beginning – the one that realizes how special she is before anyone knows there’s anything special about her, but there’s not really any development with their relationship besides a couple of dances and longing looks. The story seems more caught up in trying to pull one over on the reader by focusing on Maven as the surprise hero and love interest. I could almost get on board this ship, but Mare swings back and forth so much about which brother she likes more that I couldn’t really root for either of them. Eventually she tells Maven she’s choosing no one, so that was a nice change of pace. However, her circumstances has thrown her together with Cal, and all of her following actions make it seem like Cal is the answer.

-When I was trying to decide to keep reading or not, I read some reviews. I came across one that was not marked as being spoilery and it mentioned something about how surprising the big betrayal was. I wasn’t far into the book at this point, but I was far enough to realize that the only betrayal that could hold any sort of emotional impact would be from Maven. I didn’t really trust Maven in the first place, but I might not have been expecting his turn around if I hadn’t read that first. So, unfortunately, I spent the whole book waiting to see Maven turn against Mare.

-Obviously Shade wasn’t killed. No one should be surprised when he shows up in the Epilogue.

-Overall the pacing of the story was just slow. I was really bored most of the time. The character development for everyone besides Mare was pretty poor, and while she was more developed her character didn’t really grow at all. I found myself not really caring about what happened to any of them. As I mentioned earlier, there was a really well-written action sequence towards the end and that was the only time I really got into the story. If the whole book would’ve been written that well, I would be able to recommend this. I might read the next book, just because the ending was more interesting, but I’m not sure.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

2 stars

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21 thoughts on “Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

  1. Everything I’ve read about this book has made me feel strongly that it’s not for me. I read the first few pages and saw nothing to change my mind. But people keep recommending it, and I was beginning to waver. Your review has made me feel better about sticking to my instincts.

    Great review! It’s so hard to write a review when you were mostly just bored all the way through.

    • Thanks! I wasn’t going to review it since I wasn’t a big fan, but I wanted to have something to make it worth my time haha. Yes, I would say that if you weren’t that interested in it once you started it, I wouldn’t go any further. I kind of wish I DNF-ed it instead of taking a week out of my reading life for it.

  2. It is hard to review a book that turns out to be such a disappointment. One of my neighbors read this, and when I asked her what she liked – nothing, and what she didn’t like – everything.

  3. I’ve had a bad feeling about this book which is why I decided not to buy it when it was released. I’ve been waiting for my library to pick it up, though if my experience is anything like yours, I might not even finish it. Too bad it didn’t live up to the hype.

  4. Oop! I skipped the spoilers as I’m soon to read it!! But your general feedback and rating coincides with what other reviews I’ve read about this book. I mean, some are raving about it, some are disappointed.

    I’m keen to find out which way I’ll swing! I’ll come back to read this in full when I’ve finished the book 🙂

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  6. I have a confession. I didn’t see the betrayals coming. (I was shocked despite my initial indifference, which is probably what saved this book for me.) I just finished this book and have yet to write my review. I think I liked it a bit more than you did, but I definitely agree there was something off about it. I think it was the lack of character development like you said. The relationships were solidified with one longing look. I didn’t “feel” anything for any of the characters and relationships so it was hard for me to get into it. Towards the end it was way better, but mostly because of the heart-wrenching despair of the injustice of it all. I wanted this one to be better too, especially because of the awesome powers.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it more than I did. If I hadn’t read a review that mentioned a betrayal, I’m not sure if I would have been expecting it. It probably makes it a more enjoyable read if you’re surprised. I look forward to reading your review on it!

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