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YA Book Club: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Monday, March 30, 2015

Publisher: Orion
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

I rarely read fantasy books. I used to wish I was more well-rounded in what I read but since these days most of my reading is done on the train to and from work I’ve learnt to be kinder to myself. Basically, the commute is horrible so my time reading is an escape. I am a creature of habit and prefer to escape to the wonderful shores of Contemporary-land (be it YA or adult 'popular fiction'). However, I keep up with Tracey’s blog and saw the YA book club choice was Red Queen. Just going by the title I thought it might be something to do with Alice in Wonderland, which isn’t actually a favourite of mine but I was a little bit intrigued, so still took a look at Goodreads. I saw the Fantasy tag, did a mental 'meh', but scorlled down to the reviews nevertheless. I'll always be curious about books with high ratings. Anyway, I saw someone earlier up the list liken Red Queen to Game of Thrones meets X-Men. Well, that did it. I quickly shut down Goodreads so I wouldn't encounter any spoilers and sped on over to Amazon to get myself a copy. I started reading it on the train the next day and was quickly absorbed by the story. This book is SUPERB!

I’m finding it difficult to write coherent reviews at the moment (hence the lack of posting recently). I'm not sure why - just stuck in a rut I guess. Anyway, I’ll just list the reasons why I thought this book was superb:

  • Excellent world building. You really felt for the Reds and even though people had ‘powers’, it wasn’t too far-fetched.
  • The pacing was on point and the writing was tight. You could tell Victoria Aveyard had spent a long time plotting and getting everything near enough perfect. 
  • The characters were memorable. Mare was a great heroine – the perfect mix of a conflicted young woman with a heart for social justice. I loved the Cersei like Elara and the princes Maven and Cal and Farley.
  • All the secrets and deception and drama. I thought I knew what was going on, and ultimately I was right, but how we got there was a ride and a half. 
  • Nobody was wholly 'good' or 'bad', which always makes for a much for exciting story. 

Finally, just a word about the inevitable adaptation. I see the film rights have been optioned. I think it will make an ok film. However, it would be an even better TV series. Come on people of Hollywoodland – enough of the YA films. TV is where its at! The problem with these YA adaptations, particularly the fantasy/dystopian flicks, is they try and spread books that are often in the first person, with a lot of introspection and teen angst, over three films and that doesn’t work. It becomes very watered down and flat. However, TV allows for these sorts of issues to be ironed out. It’s not a coincidence that The 100 has been renewed.

Overall, I’m so glad I took a chance on this book and I now cannot wait for the sequel. If you're like me (i.e someone who doesn’t really read outside of contemporary) I think this will appeal to you. Super duper hardcore fantasy readers – I’ll be interested to see what you make of this one.

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