Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

February 2, 2015 3.5 stars, Book Review 41 ★★★½

Review: Red Queen by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Published by Harper Teen on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

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.

​Red Queen is set in a fascinating world with two classes of people that aren’t just split by their status in life but by their blood color and abilities. The Silvers have silver blood and have super hero like powers. There are different types of silvers each with a specific power. For example controlling fire, metal, water, mind control, and healing. While Reds have red​ blood and are ordinary people so they are subjugated under the rule of the Silvers and are essentially slaves and serfs.​ Mare Barrow is a young Red who who will end up being conscripted into the army on her 18th birthday because she doesn’t have a job or apprenticeship. All 3 of her older brothers were conscripted and are still fighting in the war, and her younger sister has a successful apprenticeship that pretty much supports their family. So Mare is resigned to fact she’ll be conscripted and thus spends her days stealing to help her family in any way she can. But when her best friend loses his apprenticeship after his mentor dies she can’t possibly let him get conscripted and tries to concoct a plan for them to escape. This starts her down a path which could ultimately mess up the lives of everyone in her family, or maybe not?

My mixed reactions!

​There was so much to enjoy about this book but then also things but peeved me! I absolutely zoomed through the first 40% of this book and would have likely devoured it in a day or two if it weren’t for when things started to go just a touch south. Yes Mare makes some dumb decisions but those things in a twist of fate land her up being in service to the royal Silver family which could have been good…but somehow go bad. She becomes a pawn in their lives because of the unexpected exposure of a power she didn’t know and according to her blood shouldn’t have.


A fun mash-up of genres! A world that I’m fascinated to learn more about with a cool mash-up of fantasy (the world felt fantasy in it’s geographic, social and economic makeup), comic book fiction ​​​(those super hero like powers that the Silvers have), a long standing war and lots of big scale conflict! – Seriously this was a fun mash-up of genres – so much so that I’ve said it twice now lol. I loved the way this book felt like fantasy but also integrated technology as part of it. It almost felt like maybe this world was the future of our world that has kept/lost some technology and progressed in other ways but then fallen into an older socio-economic order because of the differences of people and abilities based on their blood. Because of this it was still fantasy what with the powers and the feel of the world but had that touch of modern with its use of technology like cameras, electricity, trains, guns, radiation detectors, blood analyzing etc. I am intrigued to know more!

She’s so special – could totally have gone either way. I was completely down with the fact that she’s unique and special in some big way because in fantasy that is what I expect. There is usually that person that has powers beyond the norm, or is ‘chosen’ etc. That the main character is going to have something very unique about them that sets them apart or at least for them to be the first noticeable one that does is part and parcel of most fantasy I think. And she handles this very well especially later in the book when other key elements about her abilities and blood are brought in. Ultimately I both liked and disliked Mare. She has a good personality with the typical faults that I see in many YA heroines.

– Adults are involved! Usually in YA I find them relegated to the background – thankfully here they aren’t. They are a big part of the plot and conspiracies that are going on.


The hot headed indecisive heroine. As I said – Mare’s personality is both a pro and a con for me. Ok she’s not totally indecisive but she really doesn’t use her head very well when it comes to character judgement of the people she interacts with. For someone who’s spent her life under the thumb of Silvers she seems much too quick to trust too many of them. That and her romantic choices and some of her actions were just very….argh!

– ​​Why hello love triangle, I just knew you were coming!

​Heck seriously though, the love triangle it was even slightly toeing the line into a love quadrangle. I have the feeling that more of the 3rd guy will come into book 2 but I’m hoping I’m wrong because that will irk my chain to no end. Really though don’t we just see the love triangle done way too much in young adult fiction? Frankly I’m pretty tired of it at this point. There are times when it works and it doesn’t bother me at all because hey sometimes you really DO have feelings for two people at once. And yes of course usually you see a preference more towards one person or the other. But I seriously think it wasn’t needed here and if it weren’t here I wouldn’t have been rolling my eyes because of every boy going moon eyed over her (seriously three boys) and it would have made this book even better.​

A promising start I’ll definitely continue with the series

The writing in Red Queen was solid, the world building was unique and despite my peeves I did enjoy the characters and the pace of the reading. I think it was just little peeves and the one big one about the romance that ended up stifling much of my enjoyment as those things compounded turning this from a great read into an OK read. I still see so much promise in the direction that the series is heading and I will just swallow any aggravation I feel about any romantic entanglements that progress. Hence I say it was still a strong book and one I would hesitantly recommend to friends based on their preferences. If those sorts of things don’t bother you as a YA reader then you’re likely to LOVE this book.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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41 Responses to “Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard”

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Thanks Melanie, I still enjoyed it, I just had a few pet peeves. And I know she preferred one brother over the other, but then you know at the end when she says she loved him…I just thought that was so totally unnecessary to have said cause seriously how long was she really even in the palace to have developed love for both of them. Just peeved me is all. I might still read the next.
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  1. Kirsty-Marie

    Yeah, they bother me. 🙁 Which is why I couldn’t finish it, my main problem though that I was so bored, and I there were times I liked Mare, but most of the time (especially when she finds out what she can do) she became waaay to whiny for my liking. Once the love triangle (I mean, come on, we knew that was going to happen) started making appearances, I was out. I did skip to the end to see if my suspicions were right…and they were.
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  2. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I don’t read a ton of YA, but have been waiting to see reviews on this one because it sounded like one I might really enjoy. Sorry it didn’t work better for you, and it sounds like it might annoy me at times for some of the same reasons it annoyed you. Unless I am in a very forgiving mood, which does happen at times.
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  3. Zareena

    Ah, I can’t wait to read this! I’m glad you enjoyed it because I’m really looking forward to reading this but the idea of a love triangle (or whatever shape it turns out to be) kind of puts me off… but I will still be reading Red Queen as soon as I can grab a copy 🙂 I didn’t realise that there was a combination of technology and fantasy but it sounds pretty darn good. Nice review!
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  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’m very picky about my YA so like Lisa I was waiting on some of the reviews of this from bloggers I read. It sounded promising but now I think there will be certain aspects of the book I know I won’t like at all. If you gave it a 3.5, it might not fly so well with me 😛 I’ll still give it a shot though, pretty sure my library will get this one when it comes out!
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      You are exactly freaking right!! I hate when a book is compared to and said to be a mix of various other already popular books. In my mind that is a big disadvantage for the book tho some people seem to really like having the comparisons. ,aye because they want another read ‘just like that one’ but me I definitely don’t.
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  5. Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination

    Red Queen is high up on my TBR because I’ve heard such wonderful things about it. I think the genre mashup in this book is really cool, and genre mashups always seem to make things more interesting. It’s too bad the love triangle didn’t really work in this book. Sometimes love triangles work for me, but if not done well, they make the book horrible. And when a love triangle moves into a love web, I really have a problem.
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  6. Danya @ Fine Print

    I think I’m gonna give this one a hard pass. You and I usually agree on YA and I’m just not interested in 3.5 star YA novels anymore…especially ones with love triangles. I don’t understand the presence of love triangles in all these debuts – they’re so difficult to write even for experienced authors. Sorry this wasn’t all you hoped it’d be, but I’m glad you still liked it!
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes I don’t have time to continue with a series where the first one is already below a 4star. I might consider it for. 3.5 but only if at the time when the next book comes out I’m feeling really in the mood to continue which in this case I don’t think I shall. Too many other books I’d rather give a chance to. I just don’t get the love triangles and so many of the repeating themes and tropes and plot lines or what have you. It’s like there is a formula or something that some of these follow.
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  7. Valerie

    I think what’s really keeping me from being super excited is that it sounds really similar to Red Rising, but that probably won’t be the case I think. I WILL STILL READ IT, hopefully soon. Maybe. But I really like the concept of the world, like special powers and the like.
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