Narrator: Amanda Dolan
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Harper Audio on February 10th 2015
Length: 12 hours and 40 minutes
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
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Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.
From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.
“Many things led to this day, for all of us. A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.”
In Victoria Aveyard’s dystopian fantasy, the world encompasses two different types of people: Silvers and Reds. The Silvers are royalty, the rulers, maintaining their authority with the aid of the supernatural powers they possess. Reds are the working class and are treated poorly by Silvers, possessing no powers of their own to fight back. This split between people has always been this way, until a Red discovers that she possesses the powers of a Silver.
Mare Barrow, age 17 and a Red, knows her freedom is coming to an end soon. At the age of 18, she’ll be conscripted to fight in the war against the Kingdom of Lakeland because she doesn’t possess any useful talents to keep her home. She’s been resigned to her fate, however, when she discovers her best friend Kilorn will be conscripted as well, she becomes determined to find a way for the two of them to escape knowing he wouldn’t survive a war. She plans to use the skills she does possess, thievery, to obtain enough money to buy their freedom but the plan goes awry when she pickpockets, and is caught except miraculously the boy allows her to escape and gets her a job at the palace instead. It’s revealed that she possesses powers that even she wasn’t aware of, and she becomes a powerful pawn between the Silvers and the Scarlet Guard, the leaders of the Red rebellion.
The first half of this book introduces us to the life of a Red, and it’s bleak. The Silvers are painted as brutal tyrants that punish Reds for the smallest of crimes, where food is scarce, and poverty is the norm. The majority have accepted their lot in life, not being able to see any way of overcoming the Silvers. The Scarlet Guard is the heart of the rebellion against the Silvers, and its their help Mare seeks in escaping her and Kilorn’s conscription into war. The world itself isn’t described much outside of Mare’s small village, and while this may be due to the fact that the story was told from her point of view and her view is certainly limited, it would have been nice to be given some semblance of a backstory. All in all, it was still enjoyable and mildly entertaining, at least until the lovey bits were introduced.
Tropes and cliches were fairly common, yet like I previously mentioned it still managed to be an entertaining and far from painful read. Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, there is also a fair amount of insta-love. No, it didn’t make me want to stab myself in the eye so there’s that at least. There’s the requisite special snowflake that becomes a catalyst for change. There’s constant lies and deceit and basically no one can be trusted. There was also a large amount of unlikely scenarios that required a suspension of disbelief. If you’re a fan of fantasy and capable of not taking a story too seriously, this is quite the entertaining read.
I’m always leery these days when books come with all the comparisons, and especially when those comparisons have been attached to an ample amount of books already. X-Men, Game of Thrones, Red Rising, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. And sure, I can see the comparisons, but it never became such an obvious rip-off to completely turn me off from this story. All books are inspired by something, it just depends on the way each author spins it to make it unique and their own. Aveyard may not have completely dazzled me with her debut, however, she aroused my curiosity enough especially with the unexpected ending to continue following this story.
“Rise, red as the dawn.”