The Red Queen
4.25 / 5
A pulsating Young Adult fantasy novel that will leave you aching for more.
The Red Queen is Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel, which uses the current trend of social injustice in Young Adult dystopian novels, and then blends in supernatural elements and world history to create a shockingly thrilling novel. Red Queen is a slickly executed novel that has managed through Mare as the stimulus, to deliver a shock of metaphorical current into the reader, to keep them mentally and physically attached to this pulsating novel, with Aveyard as it’s magnificent conductor.
The balance of power in the world is divided in two: the Red and the Silvers. The Reds are on the bottom rung of the ladder and some beneath it, though none are allowed to climb. They are repressed by the Silvers, who hold all positions of power and enjoy all of life’s luxuries because they all have a god-like ability. These abilities vary depending on the family history, the Monarchy and the High Houses have powerful abilities such as the ability to control fire, water, minds and many more. The Reds are the servants, the workers, the everyday people that live in glorified poverty and in slums, and are constantly reminded of their place in the world by Silvers on a daily basis. If a Red is not working by the age of eighteen then they are conscripted into the army to fight a never-ending war against the Lakelanders in the North, where certain death and abysmal conditions await the Reds that go there.
However, the balance which has been controlled by the Silvers ardently is now being threatened by a band of rising Red radicals that call themselves the Scarlet Guard who are intent on seeing changes to life as everyone knows it. They want equality between Reds and Silvers, and they’ll go to any lengths to achieve their goal. They begin by blowing up Silver bases across the country in act of rebellion against the Monarchy and Silvers. Whilst the Red Guard are mobolising themselves, Mare Barrow, a young Red living in the Stilts, who due to strange happenings is a servant at the King’s residence in Summerton, just north of the Stilts, exhibits Silver-like powers in front of the King and all the High Houses during a ceremony. The monarchy attempt to cover up this anomaly by introducing her as a long lost daughter of a Silver General. Thus begins the constant battle of Mare’s existence as she must act as a Silver Princess or she and all those she loves will suffer the same fate as her if she fails.
Throughout Red Queen I noticed the uncanny similarities with The Hunger Games trilogy, whether it be the overt and highly used plot device that is used in Young Adult fiction now: the rise of a lowly positioned girl (Mare, the Stilts. Katniss, District 12) to a position where she is on the metaphorical tip of a knife of rebellion and revolution. Due to her ability she has the potential to disturb the balance of life between the Silvers and the Reds, therefore she is expected to use her role, as a Silver-raised-Red, to perform duties set by the ruthless Silver monarchy to quell the animosity from the increasingly rebellious Reds. This is reminiscent of Katniss fulfilling her duties as the Hunger Games winner as she tours the Districts, who are being repressed by the Capitol in a similar fashion that the Silvers are repressing the Reds. There are several instances of similarity throughout the novel, such as Maven and Peeta’s diplomatic approach to situations, Farley and Haymitch, as guiding forces of rebellion, the ruthless King, Queen and President Snow ruling the masses with an iron fist, City of Ruins and District 13, Gisa and Primrose and many more. Though I recognised many comparisons between them both, it did not detract from my interest or excitement about events in the book, although a few times I thought I had read the same thing before.
Aveyard’s writing style is readable, exciting and atmospheric, as she excels at creating tense and exciting situations balanced with the characters’ emotions that produce scenarios where the reader is on edge as you try to anticipate the unexpected twist, turn or curveball that she has lined up. Though I and many others have made comparisons to Hunger Games and other current YA fiction series, there is also some historical events that Aveyard has utilised in a way similar to Game of Thrones. Coup d’etats, family rivalry and rebellions within the country are events that occur in Red Queen but strike of similarities with many English and French monarchies of the past. Aveyard puts her supernatural and social injustice spin on the history to create a fantastic novel perfectly suited to a twenty-first-century audience.
This is a dazzling start to a new series which is sure to take the world by storm in much the same way as the Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent and other YA books have done in recent years. I have no doubt that this will continue in the same vein and be a huge success with legions of fans pouring their love for the Red Queen and their impatience of waiting for the sequel on Twitter. I can already visualise the #TeamCal, #TeamMaven and #TeamKilhorn hashtags becoming regular battles on Twitter amongst the fans of the book and most probably the film when it is made. Victoria Aveyard has blended together all the things great about YA fiction in her fierce and fluid writing style that has a myriad of twists, turns and edge of the seat thrills which is sure to be idiosyncratic of the books to follow in the Red Queen series.