Hello blogosphere! *virtually waves excitedly* I've missedyou. I haven't had the time to sit down and review all the wonderfully amazing books I've read in the past one and half month and for that, I'm sorry. But I'm here now and boy have I got a diamond to rave about today. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a highly acclaimed book to grace the Young Adult literature market and it didn't fail to impress me.
It tells the story of Mare Barrow, a Red living in a world ruled by Silvers who exclusively posses supernatural abilities.But Mare discovers she may be more Silver than she'd like to think bringing her before the Silver court where she is hidden in plain sight. This sparks her determination to fight the regime that has harmed those she loves from the inside but Mare is also involved in a game of love and betrayal.
I will shamefully admit that when I saw its ridiculously photogenic cover everywhere on Instagram, I did roll my eyes thinking: 'Oh, here we go again, another Divergent/Hunger Games concept. I then bought the book to discover what all the hype was believing it would be a 'meh'read and it just stood on my shelf looking pretty, occasionally pulled it out for booktags on Instagram.
One day, I needed relief from my university reading (I'm reading Charles Dickens' Bleak House and is it me or is it very dry?) and thought I would reward myself for beginning my university's reading list (yes, the situation is that bad) and started Red Queen. The opening paragraph set the tone of the book perfectly:
'I hate first Friday. It makes the village crowded, and now, in the heat of high summer, that's the last thing anyone wants. From my place in the shade it isn't so bad, but the stink of bodies, all sweating with the morning work, is enough to make milk curdle. The air shimmers with heat and humidity, and even the puddles from yesterday's storm are hot, swirling with rainbow streaks of oil and grease.'
Doesn't that sound busy and dirty and beautiful? Suddenly, all I wished for with my imaginary, red Dorothy heels is to click them together and wish to live in this vibrant setting.
When I was allowed to reward myself with Red Queen again, I immediately dived in. The first few chapters where Mare describes the Stilts aka the village for the Reds, I did cringe at the similarities between that and Katniss' home in District 12 in The Hunger Games. Poverty, guards, wealthy oppressors... ring any bells? But where Aveyard saves it is with the Scarlet Guards' videobroadcaston page 36:
'Until you recognise us as human, as equal, the fight will be at your door. Not on a battlefield but in your cities... You don't see us, and so we are everywhere.'
Brrr, this part gave me the goosebumps.
I like to make notes of epic moments in a book if I'm reading a hard copy and Red Queen certainly did not fall short on them. On page 190, you witness the planning of the revolution (and a major shocker that I couldn't believe was true) and I remember thinking, 'this must have been how the likes of Lenin have felt when planning their individual revolutions.' I didn't like that it involved betrayal, lying and honestly felt quite uncomfortable but I also knew that this was the right thing to do. As a society, we encourage our people to fight against oppression in whatever form that is but it's all well just saying it when the true bravery is being strong enough to enforce it yourself. That's what Mare taught me. She was definitely an inspiring protagonist which I thank Aveyard for *virtual applauding noises are heard* but I would also like to think that YA authors are starting to realise that being able to decide between two hot guys is not the only way to show a protagonist is independent.
This was another book where the protagonist's relationship with their family is genuine and you don't feel it has been created for the sake of it. I almost cried at the death of a family member who will not be named for obvious reasons but oh my gosh, I choked up. I kept saying, 'it's not fair, it's not fair, it's not FAIR.' You're shown why the revolution is necessary (even if you were warming to the Silver Princes Cal and Maven which I totally was) and consequently, you notice a similar realisation in Mare and it is a beautiful change.
A lot of people on Instagram and Goodreads spoke of the oh my God Plot Twist in Red Queen and oh. my. God. I did not see that coming. Like I actually closed the book, shook it a couple of times to check if it was broken, opened it again to that awful page and NO. It was still there! Why Victoria? Why did you do this to my heart? Why? I can't say anymore because a) my heart is still healing and b) you might hate me if you're interested in reading this beauty.
Finally, I love many things about this book and let's be honest Cal is way up there at Number 01. I don't want this review to be about which guy is hotter in this book because I believe Red Queen is far more focused on other themes and for that my heart does little dances. I especially love this sentence on page 215 where Mare realises that:
'This world is Silver, but it is also grey. There is no black-and-white.'
BOOM. How epic did that sound! And how true is it? Argh I'm so excited for the sequel Glass Sword to come out in February 2016. I can't wait to find out how Mare expands the revolution and defeats her enemies. The world may be Silver but Mare will no longer accept that.
I'm going to leave you guys here because writing this review has made me itch to read Red Queen all over again and I can't. Okay maybe a chapter...
*** I want to hear from you! Have you read Red Queen or would you like to? Have you ever read a book that you scoffed at but it turned out to be amazing? More importantly, are you Team Cal or Team Maven? Comment below people. ***