Tuesday, March 10, 2015

{BookTalk} Red Queen #1: Victoria Aveyard

Rating: 32%
Series: Red Queen #1 
Genre: High Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Page Count: 383
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis: 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. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play 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 everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Disclaimer: BookTalks mean that there are clearly marked spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.  

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Despite the "X meets X" pitch of "Graceling meets The Selection," I would most definitely revise that to "Snow Like Ashes meets The Jewel." I found so many similarities, in terms of the general "feel" and atmosphere you get from reading a certain book, between the three. The passion, motive, and coincidentally the names (Meira/Mare) of Snow Like Ashes and Red Queen's female protagonists was eerily similar and the entire world/royal hierarchy as well as the shoddy love triangles present in both the Jewel and Red Queen.

Would I Buy It?
Despite the cover being downright drool-worthy with a smooth finish that makes me want to stroke it awkwardly in public places, that doesn't change the fact that I disliked the book and don't want to buy it... even though it would look absolutely stunning on my bookshelves.

Background & Backstory?
I'm not sure how much of a backstory I can give for Red Queen besides the fact that EVERYONE has been talking about it. The only book that has gotten more prepublication buzz is an Ember in the Ashes from Penguin, but I've been reading Red Queen reviews practically since the cover came out. When it hit the #1 spot on the NYT Bestsellers list, I knew I had to read it just so I could tell all the non-readers that I knew about it way back when even when they claim to be superfans.

Now let me tell you something after I finished the book. I could have skipped it. I seriously considered DNFing it and I forged ahead mostly to say that I had read it, which is not a good motive to read/finish a book.

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
Okaaay then.... *looks at book warily*

Plot | 20% What turned me off from Red Queen the most was the plot. The overall arc felt like a poorly done mash up of every high fantasy novel EVER. It was as if Victoria Aveyard had sat there with a Madlibs-like fill-in-the-blank for all the elements of a YA high fantasy. 

Strong female protagonist with something making her different from everyone else? Check! An opposing force that she is (not so) inexplicably linked with? Check! A startling truth pertaining to the fact that she is unlike who she thought she was as well as the opposing force? Check! Two guys vying for her affections? Check! 

I don't consider myself very good at projecting what will happen next in books, but I anticipated a lot of the general plot points of Red Queen even though ironically, Victoria Aveyard wrote Red Queen so it would not be like "every other book out there."

Premise | 60% While Mare's situation has been done countless times in the past, I have to admit that the actual premise of Red Queen is pretty cool. The idea that the color of your blood determines your place in society is an interesting one and provided a fascinating basis for the story itself. Although, if I were to read the sequel, I would appreciate more information on the substance/genetic material that makes one silver versus red-blooded.

Characters & Romance | 40% May I just say that I strongly disliked the characters and romance in this novel? Mare seemed like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill protagonist and while I understood her perspective, I didn't feel particularly compelled to root for her. On Adventures of a Book Junkie, she explains how Victoria said that her character's names just came to her and I found this interesting because most authors have reasons/meaning behind their character's names. All the other characters didn't have much personality and I couldn't distinguish between our two male leads very well. Not so surprisingly, the characters I felt the most from were the villains, because at least their passion was portrayed blatantly. 

In terms of romance, there was a love triangle that I despised. Mostly because I wasn't sure which guy Mare actually preferred and it seemed like she switched sides just to get whatever she needed from a certain one. I was overall just really confused with the entire situation.

Pacing | 40% Something that kept me reading past the hundredth page was the pacing. I was intrigued with where the story would go and slightly invested in the characters. However, when I got halfway through the book, I already felt like I had spent too much time on it and that I should just keep ploughing through nonetheless. In a way this was both good and bad, because if the plot had been a little slower, I wouldn't have finished the book, but if it had been faster on the whole, I would have enjoyed the book more. It was odd because things were happening, I just didn't particularly care that they were.

***Spoiler Alert***
Ending | 70% Despite not enjoying Red Queen, I will admit that the ending wasn't terrible. It wrapped things up nicely for a first book, while still giving the reader the desire to find out what happens in the sequel. I actually didn't know much about Red Queen until I saw Sasha Alsberg's wrap-up on the novel where I was spoiled for Mare's ability as well as the fact that there is a HUGE betrayal. Naturally, I was hyper-aware on attempting to figure out who betrayed her and when I was checking how many pages Red Queen has, I accidentally saw the word "Maven." This put me onto offensive mode as a reader for the duration of the novel, as I searched for little clues and evidence that he would be the one to betray Mare. However, something Aveyard did a good job on was making you doubt and question EVERYONE. 
***End Spoiler***

How Likely Is It That I Will Read The Sequel?
There truly isn't a large possibility that I will read the sequel or another book by Victoria Aveyard, but if I hear from everyone that the sequel is SO MUCH BETTER than Red Queen, I might consider giving it a shot. 

Conclusion: Red Queen was a huge disappointment due to a bad pacing, undistinguished characters, a weak love triangle, and a hackneyed plot. 

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