Saturday, April 4, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is another hot new YA dystopia.

In Mare Barrow's world, there are Reds, and there are Silvers. Reds are the ordinary people: the workers, soldiers, commoners. Silvers are the wealthy and powerful. The difference is a matter of blood: Silvers have evolved with extraordinary abilities, and Reds have not. Mare is a Red, living a hand-to-mouth existence and picking pockets to get by, dreading her mandatory conscription into the army on her 18th birthday (a fate that has already befallen her three older brothers). When she picks the wrong pocket and gets caught, Mare expects harsh punishment, but instead the stranger whose pocket she attempted to pick gives her money and arranges for her to get a job at the palace -- a job that will keep her out of the army and pay well enough that she will be able to contribute more to her family than she ever could have by stealing. But when Mare finds herself once again in the wrong place at the wrong time, she and everyone around her discovers that she has a rare talent, one not held by any Silver. The king and queen go to great lengths to cover up Mare's abilities, taking her into the royal court and introducing her as a Silver raised by a Red family, even affiancing her to their younger son. But a rebellion is rising in the land, and Mare finds herself pulled in two different directions. She must appear to embrace her life as a Silver, or she will be killed -- the king and queen have been very clear on this point. But her heart is still with the Reds. Can she find a way to help the rebel forces from within the palace?

If some of these plot points seem familiar, it's probably because this book has a lot of similarities to other recent YA dystopias. It's well-trodden ground at this point: the oppressive regime, the feisty heroine with special powers, the love triangles, the fighting lessons, the plot twists. That doesn't necessarily make this book less enjoyable than its counterparts, at least for readers who like this sort of book. I thought the initial premise was interesting and the pacing was good -- it kept me reading even past the plot holes that I can see, looking back. Mare didn't seem to have any chemistry with any of her potential romantic interests, but I think that might have been at least somewhat intentional on the author's part. This is a series that I'll probably continue reading, and will definitely recommend to teens looking for an action-packed dystopian story.

(Reviewed from a finished copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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