Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Red queen by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow lives in a world of Silver and Red.  The Silver are the powerful elite, ruling the world with their impressive and oppressive powers - their silver blood marks them as Silver and their powers keep the masses under control.  The Red are the commoners, the masses that work themselves into an early grave or sacrifice themselves on the battle field so the Silvers can expand their territory.  There red blood marks them as Red, and it is their red blood that colours the battlefields on both sides of a war that no one has won for generations.  The Silvers rule with an iron fist, taking Red lives like they are nothing, and when you live in a world where you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

Mare is no innocent Red, she has had her share of problems - mostly because she is a shameless thief who helps keep her family fed and supplied with power with her light fingers.  It is not something she is truly proud of, but with three brothers away at war she feels like she has little choice.  About to turn eighteen and with no apprenticeship or job, Mare is destined to be conscripted and sent off to the war, but then she receives a summons to appear before the king.  What she gets instead of conscription is a job as a servant in the summer residence of the king and his family, but that job exposes an incredible secret about Mare - she has an ability that no Red should have.  

Because she has an impossible power Mare is hidden in plain view as the future bride of the kings youngest son - and with her new position comes a false back story that makes her a lost Silver child raised by a Red family.  This lie is the first of many, with everyday bringing more secrets, more mysteries, and greater danger.  It seems as though there is a war coming that no one has seen, a terrorist war led by the Red Guard who seem intent on bringing down the Silver control in a sea of silver blood - but not everything, or everyone is as they appear.  Despite her hard life Mare is essentially a sheltered country mouse who has been thrust into a deadly game of Silver cat and Red mouse - where she doesn't know all the players, all the rules, or the deadly consequences of the wrong decisions.  Mare has known heart ache and loss, but she is about to discover the bitter taste of loyalty and betrayal.

Red queen is one of those books that stands out from the crowd with it's simple and classic cover, and with a world that deserves to be discovered and explored.  This is truly a book that crosses from the teen market into the wider reading market, because although the characters are teenagers (which would normally relegate the book to teen readers) there is a sweeping story here that covers themes that adult readers can also relate to - discovery yourself, finding your place in a new world, trying to hold onto what you hold dear despite the pressures around you, and of course finding love and friendship in a world where not everyone or everything is as they seem (sound like your first job to anyone else?).  

This is a world that is real and solid, with a mythology that is logical and more than a little bit mysterious at the moment - but hopefully the next two books in the trilogy will answer those questions as we move towards the end of this story.  There are some very adult themes here that mean I would not recommend this book for 'tweens/younger teens unless they have someone they can talk to about the themes that arise.  I am very impressed with Red queen and sincerely hope that Aveyard has already started work on the sequel so we don't have to wait too long to see what is next for Mare and her world.  This is one of my top ten reads for this year so far, it is well written, the characters are well defined and seem to step off the page, and the world is whole and complete.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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