Book Review Wednesday: Red Queen

3 out of 5 stars.

Library Hardcover - YA Fantasy - Goodreads Summary:

"This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, Mare discovers that she possesses a deadly power of her own. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart."

Victoria Aveyard crafted an interesting dystopian novel that felt like a mash up of Hunger Games, Red Rising, and The Selection. The author kept me guessing throughout the book, and I am forever grateful she didn't slap us with another love triangle (insert praise hands)! However, I did call the major twist everyone was talking about on Goodreads, but that could be because I was looking for it. I'm already into book 2 (Glass Sword) because I'm curious to see how Mare changes after her trials in book!

All betas/writers/editors should read these drafts like a teenager girl (ahem...or me). We don't read a chapter at a time. We devour books. In the age of binge-watching and consuming series upon series of books, we want what we want all at once. Because we read that way now, we catch some major author isms...what I'll now call "author tics." You know, those crutch words and repetitive phrases that drive you mad. Not unlike the issues I had with ACOTAR, Red Queen kept me from diving headfirst into Mare's journey because I kept getting sucked out with these distractions: 

The use of italics. Thoughts are often italicized, but when a book is told in first person present POV, it's all thought. With no rhyme or reason as to what was considered narrative and what was thought, it caused me to stumble each time I reached an italicized line. Aveyard did a good job with Mare's voice throughout, so we didn't even need these thoughts. They just over-explained what we already knew. 

Author tics: Aveyard has a favorite sentence because I've already seen in several times in the second book. "What ____ could mean, I didn't know" or "How _____ [insert verb], I didn't know." Most of the time, Mare asked a question following this sentence...which shows us she didn't know. Aveyard could have done without it, and it still would have been strong.

I just didn't get pulled in like I wanted. I was reading, understanding the plot, recognizing the voice (and it was a strong one!), but I was still on the surface and skimming across the water. I didn't get engrossed in the story, and I can't even say why that was. Overall I enjoyed Aveyard's style, though I didn't always connect with Mare in a way that made me care about what she cared about.

It's a solid story, great pacing, wonderful cast of characters, and a good foundation to build a story of sticking it to the man. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who likes a fantasy-feel to your dystopian novels, and I look forward to the sequel!