Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult

Book Review: The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Author: Victoria Aveyard

Series: Red Queen (Book 1)

Paperback: 416 pages

Publisher: HarperTeen

ISBN-10: 006231064X

ISBN-13: 978-0062310644

 

Amazon

Goodreads

Book Synopsis

Graceling meets TheSelection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

My Thoughts…

I set a goal for myself in 2016 to branch out from my reading comfort zone.  This is going to be my year of trying new genres and experiencing new types of books that I would never otherwise read.  I have never ventured far into the realms of the Young Adult or Fantasy genres.  Of course I have read the most popular series like Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, and the Maze Runner. I felt compelled to read them and see what all the fuss was about.  Aside from Harry Potter, which I was enamored with, the rest were just “ok” for me.  For the most part, I was entertained enough with these stories to finish the series, but not so much that I can say I “loved” these books.  Unfortunately, Red Queen followed suit and came up short for me.

Now, before all the Red Queen fans team up and try to run me out of town, I only ask that you read the ENTIRE review before you comment about how wrong I am about this book.   I am going to start with what I did not like about the book, then move to what I did enjoy about it.  Stay with me here.

Honestly, my biggest hang up about this book was not being able to get past all the parallels with The Hunger Games… arena fights, love triangle (square?), unfair class system, narcissistic tendencies of the upper class, government oppression of lower class, uprising of oppressed lower class, government using lower class girl to pacify the uprising, the “rebels” using that same girl as the face of their rebellion, etc etc.  I understand that lots of books have these common elements, but Red Queen was just too comparable.  Had there not been so many similarities, my opinion of this book would have drastically improved.

Another issue I had was with the main characters.  I never felt like I emotionally connected with any of them.   Mare, the lead female character, was self-centered and immature.  It made it very hard to root for her.  Actually, now that I think of it, I liked the supporting characters BETTER than the main characters.  Gisa, Lucas, Julian, and Farley, just to name a few. The love triangle (square?) was underdeveloped and lacking.   I never felt the connection between Mare or any of her love interests.

I did however think the character of Queen Elara was well written and believable.  Even though the evil step-mother thing is a little cliché, I thought Elara was a loathsome protagonist.  I enjoyed the snarky banter between Elara and Mare.

The plot twist was this book’s saving grace for me.   I saw it coming to an extent with all the foreshadowing the author gave us, however I never imagined it was going to be that intense.  Kudos to Aveyard for keeping me on my toes.

Here is the bottom line, had this novel had a little more originality and better character development, Aveyard would have knocked it out of the park.  She 100% has the potential to be great.  I am chalking up Red Queen’s shortcomings to her being a new writer and this being her debut novel.  She is a captivating storyteller and a respectable writer, she just needs to fine tune a few things.

“You believe you are the masters of the world, but your reign as kings and gods is at an end.  Until you recognize us as human, as equal, the fight will be at your door.  Not on a battlefield but in your cities.  In your streets.  In your homes.  You don’t see us, and so we are everywhere”  Her voice hums with authority and poise.  “And we will rise up, Red as the dawn.”

Right there.  Potential.  I will be following Aveyard’s career, as I am sure she will only continue to grow as an author.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

What did you think about Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen?  Will you be reading the other books in the series?  Comment and let me know your thoughts 🙂

 

About the Author

7074943Victoria Aveyard splits her time between her hometown East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and Los Angeles. After graduating with a BFA in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California, she decided to try her hand at writing a novel. Her debut RED QUEEN came out of the terrifying, unemployed year after college.

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Monthly TBRs

March Madness: Upcoming Reads

As March draws closer, I wonder to myself “where the hell did February go?!” I guess I can’t complain too much since this means that we are one step closer to spring.  The older I get, the harder winters in Ohio are becoming.  Yesterday was actually a beautiful, 60 degree, and sunny day, which is uncommon for Ohio in February.  I took advantage of the nice weather, and took the kids outside to play while I enjoyed a good book in the sunshine.

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Speaking of March, I have big plans for this month.  I have 6 books on the lineup…

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Click here to purchase Red Queen

 Book Synopsis for Red Queen (via amazon.com)

The #1 New York Times Bestseller

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

I am interested to see what the hype is all about with this book.  I don’t typically read YA or fantasy, but am curious to see if this ends up being another Twilight craze…


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Click here to purchase Rebel Queen

Book Synopsis for Rebel Queen (via amazon.com)

From the internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter comes the breathtaking story of Queen Lakshmi—India’s Joan of Arc—who against all odds defied the mighty British invasion to defend her beloved kingdom.

When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of one another, seemingly no match for the might of the English. But when they arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, the British army is met with a surprising challenge.

Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male and one female—and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although her soldiers may not appear at first to be formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from the empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the unexpected perspective of Sita—Queen Lakshmi’s most favored companion and most trusted soldier in the all-female army—Rebel Queen shines a light on a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction. In the tradition of her bestselling novel, Nefertiti, and through her strong, independent heroines fighting to make their way in a male dominated world, Michelle Moran brings nineteenth-century India to rich, vibrant life.

I really hope this book will live up to my expectations.  A queen who raises an army of women AND rides into battle alongside them?  Yes, please!


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Click here to purchase The Queen of the Night

Book Synopsis for The Queen of the Night (via amazon.com)

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. 

As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a complicated web of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.  

Featuring a cast of characters drawn from history, The Queen of the Night follows Lilliet as she moves ever closer to the truth behind the mysterious opera and the role that could secure her reputation — or destroy her with the secrets it reveals. 
For one of my Goodreads book clubs, the March theme was “Making Music: Music and Musicians.”  I had come across this book on Goodreads and it intrigued me, so I nominated it as our March read.  Much to my surprise, it actually won in the group poll.  It is 576 pages, so hopefully it won’t end up being a flop… if so I may have a few hundred group members out for blood for wasting their time 🙂

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Book Synopsis for Dollbaby (via amazon.com)

A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets

When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throw

s in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.

I have heard good things about this book, so when a Goodreads partner for a March buddy read suggested it, I was game.

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Book Synopsis for Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History (via amazon.com)

The heist of the century!

Ten years before the recent Brussels diamond theft, daring diamond thieves made off with gems worth almost twice as much. On February 15, 2003, thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in Antwerp, never tripping an alarm, and made off with over $108 million worth of diamonds and other valuables.

Although the crime was perfect, the getaway was not. The police zeroed in on a band of professional thieves fronted by Leonardo Notarbartolo, a dapper Italian who had rented an office in the Diamond Center and clandestinely cased its vault for over two years.  The “who” of the crime had been answered, but the “how” remained a mystery.

Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard Law grad and diamond expert, and Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds, embarked on a global chase to uncover the true story behind the stunning heist. Tracking the threads of the crime throughout Europe—from Belgium to Italy, in seedy cafés and sleek diamond offices—the authors sorted through an array of conflicting details, divergent opinions and incongruous theories to put together the puzzle of what actually happened that Valentine’s Day weekend.

This real-life Ocean’s Eleven—a combination of diamond history, journalistic reportage, and riveting true-crime story—provides a thrilling in-depth study detailing the better-than-fiction heist of the century.

When my sister-in-law asked if I wanted to join her friend’s book club with her, I said “Absolutely!”  I have always wanted to be a part of a book club!  Sure, I belong to online book clubs via Goodreads, but it’s not the same.  When she told me this was the March read, my heart sank.  This book is WAY outside my comfort zone.  I never read non-fiction…. like ever.  I am going to have an open mind, and hope that my first official book club book will not bore me to tears…

What is on your to-read list for March?  Comment with your upcoming reads!