I’ve bought the first two books in this series in a special boxed edition and was so excited to read it because a) the covers look very promising and b) everyone seemed to have read and loved it. That’s off to a great start, isn’t it? Well, not exactly. It took me quite a while to finish this book and I don’t really like the turn it has taken. Let me tell you why.
Mare Barrow lives in a world divided by blood – the lowly Reds have to serve the Silver elite. Silvers are gifted with supernatural abilities which make them nearly gods. Mare helps her poor family survive by stealing whatever she can find, but when her best friend Kilorn is conscripted into the army, Mare does what she can to win his freedom. She ends up in the royal palace, where she discovers that she herself has a secret power – even though her blood is Red. Or is it?
Mare is forced into the role of a long lost Silver princess, and is betrothed to one of the two Silver princes. Although her new position is everything a Red could ever hope for, Mare risks it by joining an underground Red rebellion. But in Mare’s world, there’s no one she can really trust, as she is soon to find out herself…
First of all, this book very much reminded me of The Hunger Games, but in a bad way, unfortunately… There’s the so called “Feats’ in arenas, which used to be executions. Prisoners would be brought to the capital Archeon and killed in front of a Silver crowd – for their entertainment. Now, Reds are granted admission as well, probably to scare them off and keep them in check. When Mare becomes a princess (well, the nobles try to disguise her in plain sight when they find out about her power, so she doesn’t really “become” one but plays the role), she is taught and trained a lot, which also reminded me of the preparation Katniss and the other tributes went through.
I think the thing that made me struggle most was that none of the characters were really likeable, if you ask me. And if they were, they were either killed or turned out to be bad after all.
I didn’t really like the romantic parts in the book either, because – as you might guess, there is a kind of love triangle too – not only does Mare get feelings for both princes at the same time, she does so without ever really getting to know them for real. They don’t spend a lot of time together, but Mare falls for them, despite having despised them and what they stand for all her life. Furthermore, I think it’s quite strange that trusts them so easily, even though she knows best not to trust anybody ever. I was always trying to guess whether Mare also has feelings for Kilorn or whether he is really just a friend, but there is not much you get from her thoughts.
That’s probably another point I didn’t really like – Mare does not reflect much, which should be a given in her situation, if you ask me, especially if she wants to join a rebellion. Also, she is the main character, and I think the reader should know what she is thinking.
All in all, the idea behind Red Queen has a lot of potential, but it was not fully utilized. I would have loved to get more background information too – are we in a dystopia or in a fully fictitious universe? Why do some have red, and others silver blood, and where do these abilities really come from?
When you pay attention, you can also guess what will happen in the end and who can really be trusted, so there’s no real surprise either. Being able to compare this book to one of the most hyped YA books of our times makes it clear that it isn’t all bad, but there are no real surprises and no characters to really take into your heart, but there is so much potential. That is why I will try to tackle book two in the series as well in order to find out whether I’ll like it more, but not anytime soon, I’m guessing. Only 2,5 stars from me…
Did you read Red Queen? Did you like it more than me? Tell me in the comments below!