In the Kingdom of Norta, those with Red blood and those with Silver blood are separate. Reds are servants, common foot soldiers, and toil away in dilapidated homes. If they cannot find work before turning eighteen they are conscripted into the army to fight the Lakelanders. Silvers are special, different. They have powers, privilege, and wealth. They look down on the Reds that serve them and rule with an iron fist. Reds can only hope for enough work to stay out of the army, or to survive their conscription when it comes. Silvers can use their money and powers to gain glory, even fighting in arenas where Reds are forced to watch. How long could this imbalance last?
What is Red Queen about?
Red Queen is about Mare Barrow, an ordinary Red or so she seems. She’s a pickpocket and a thief, whose habits of stealing have kept her family fed and with lights on for years. She has three older brothers that were conscripted and as every day passes, she herself grows closer to that same fate. When her best friend, Kilorn, is also threatened with conscription after seemingly escaping it, Mare does some desperate things to save him. Instead, she ends up spiraling down into the world of the Silvers, forced to put on a mask and play a part that will inevitably lead to her doom.
Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
This very much blends the traditional YA fantasy and dystopian concepts by introducing the Silvers, a fae-like contingent with a variety of powers from elemental control to the ability to read minds. These fae people took over and in a dystopian world monitor, use, and enslave the Reds, ie regular humans. They’ve introduced measures such as forced conscription for anyone without a job, a whole area full of air and water pollution to force Reds to build technology for the Silvers, and constant monitoring in the form of guards, cameras, and more.
Tropes: The romance, oh god, the romance
Okay, so the romance wasn’t the only thing that bugged me but there were two major romantic tropes that really really bugged me: Star Crossed Lovers, which made TWO appearances, and Betrayal of Love which thankfully only made one. Yeah, this YA book didn’t have the traditional love triangle, it instead had three whole love interests each with their own awful set of tropes, and the one I really rooted for turned out to suck.
Plot: Convoluted and dull
The plot took entirely too many sudden twists and turns, and none of them were interesting. In each act of the book too many things happen! And I simply didn’t care about any of them.
Since I gave this book two stars instead of one, I suppose it deserves something in this category. I like all of the villains. I would’ve liked them better if they weren’t the villains of the story, because I didn’t like any of the heroes, but I liked them as villains as well as plain antagonists.
All right, time for the things that I wasn’t a huge fan of but didn’t totally ruin the story for me. I liked Maven and Mare’s relationship, it was nice and honestly would’ve made more sense than her weird love at first sight thing with Cal. I liked Evangeline. I liked Elara. I wish they’d been given actual character development instead of just being “evil girls.” The political turmoil that was taking place simultaneously with the Reds wanting to rise up against the Silvers was a nice touch, proving that the status quo was never going to be maintained. Still kinda boring, but I digress. The idea of Mare having powers was at first interesting, but the explanation of it felt out of nowhere and kinda fell flat for me because it was introduced so late in the game. Mare actually being able to play along with the Silvers for a little while was the best part of her character.
Buckle in book bees, this is going to be a bumpy ride. I’ll start from the beginning: I didn’t like Mare. Not one bit. For a single moment I thought I’d like her a little bit, but nope. And I have a lot of trouble caring about what happens in a book where I don’t like the main POV character. Second, I didn’t like the world building. I thought it was lazy, half assed, and uninteresting. I didn’t get a sense of it really until the third act of the book, and by that time it was too late to get invested. I found the dichotomy of Reds and Silvers to be poorly written. It’s a bad allegory, and it didn’t come out well. It made no sense, was lazy writing, and honestly I didn’t sympathize with the Reds or hate the Silvers just on the dichotomy alone. Mare was insufferable, and she despised every Silver she met, so how are we to know they were actually terrible to her?
I didn’t care about anything in this book, from the major plot points to the minor foreshadowing and clues. The idea “anyone can betray anyone” was repeated frequently, but literally every single betrayal was boring and unnecessary. The need to make everything about Silver versus Red was such lazy storytelling, and we never learn how things came to be that way. The world appears politically and financially separate, but also has a war we never witness going on for decades, maybe centuries? And there are other kingdoms exactly like this? Every single area in an entire world is populated with two types of people and two types only, yeah sure that sounds realistic.
This wasn’t so horrendous a book that I DNFed it obviously, since I’m here to review it. But ultimately I was super disappointed by this. The concept wasn’t great to begin with and the characters were all annoying. The plot took too many convoluted jumps and leaps and there were too many elements built into the story that didn’t make sense because the world building was so poorly done. All in all, this was poorly written, poorly constructed, and poorly executed through and through.