Friday, 23 March 2018

Book Review: Red Queen

In a world surrounded by War and poverty how do you survive? Mare is an ordinary girl, a Red. A Red girl in a world where Silvers rule. Reds aren’t special; whereas Silvers are special due to their unusual range of abilities. Essentially the world is dominated by which blood group you belong to as blood status equals power or poverty. Mare somehow gets by through thieving, although her younger sister is incredibly talented at needlework, earning Gisa a job in the Silver courts, embroidering silks and gown for ladies and between them they manage to help their family in terms of food and water. However, for each day as Mare ages, she’s getting closer to the age where she will be sent away from her family, to fight for her Kingdom: for the Silver gods. Her closest friend, Kilorn has a job as a fisherman’s Apprentice, however that also goes pear shaped, leading Mare to desperate measures and agreeing to become a part of the Rebel group ‘The Scarlet Guard’ for a price; an escape for Kilorn and herself. There are many hidden depths to this book; it's not particularly pleasant with the use of slaves, forced soldiers and near-constant battle, bloodshed and power struggles, but that is also what makes this novel such a fantastic read.

In an attempt to make enough money for her own survival, Mare continues thieving and fairly successfully, stealing a range of coins and items from various merchants and drunks walking the streets. However, in a matter of days Mare finds herself in more danger than ever before; engaged to a Prince but secretly in love with his brother. She needs to use her head, not her heart to survive in her new life. Although there are many stereotypically ‘fantasy’ themes running through this novel such as war, death and love, the details about the different Silver powers, Houses and court life made it interesting. From early on in the novel, it was clear that Mare was destined to be some form of heroine later on although she isn’t without her faults; she’s selfish, hot-headed and to an extent, ungrateful. One of the things that makes Mare an interesting character is her devotion to her family; she often bargains using her own life to look out for her family and constantly puts herself into dangerous situations without considering the consequences. Anyone and everyone in this novel has the potential to be a killer; Red or Silver, everyone is capable of causing damage to another person, inflicting pain and double-crossing one another, regardless of blood status.

Aside from Mare, there wasn’t much character development, which was a shame as there are so many characters that pique interest throughout the novel. Generally first person narrative isn’t a bad thing; in fact, I often like seeing how a characters mind works through situations or conversations as it allows the reader to fully understand their motives and reasoning behind decisions. However, in the case of this book I would’ve loved an opportunity to see inside the mind of other characters too. At times it felt like a multi-narrative aspect was needed to provide some clarification about some situations, thought and intentions, although in hindsight that could've potentially ruined the plot in some ways. I loved the two Princes, Cal and Maven, both of them had something about them to make them lovable; their manners, behaviour and struggle with their heritage, their destiny to rule society made it easy to sympathise with them, even if they are Princes. In many ways it was unsurprising that they were untrustworthy; Mare was so frustrating because of her constant trust in the wrong people. She's a strong lead, as are the two Princes although I would say that she does have the edge as she is the underdog, a Red to their Silver. The love triangle was a nice touch as it wasn't pushed to the forefront of the plot; it was more of a sideline that has the potential to be used later on. It was so easy to be pulled into wishing the relationships between them could work, but ultimately Silver rules and Red suffers.

Overall, I demolished this book in only a few sittings; I'll admit that at first, I was skeptical to due the start being slow. However, once you start to read more, deeper into the novel you begin to realise that nobody is who they say they are, it's impossible to trust anyone as everyone is capable of murder. Slow, painful murder. This novel is completely addictive; once you begin to understand the dangerous relationship between ruling Silvers versus the servant Reds. I liked the idea of rebellion, of creating equality, although I'm not convinced that the Red rebels will be successful, but that remains to be seen. The plot has the start of an excellent villain, heroine and martyr; it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the series lives up to this book as it managed to capture my attention after only a few chapter. Mare is a fantastic but frustrating protagonist, often not thinking before doing, creating chaos in her wake and usually finding herself in unnecessary danger by putting her family and friends first. This book was 5 stars for me because I love it when a book surpasses my expectations; I'm excited to read the second installment, hopefully many of my questions will be answered but I'm sure I'll end up with many more as it's a four part series. I would recommend having the series to hand before reading the first, as I really wish I had Glass Sword to be able to continue the series immediately, rather than wait a while. 

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