Power is a dangerous game.
Set in a fantasy world where people are segregated into two groups depending on the colour of their blood, the Reds are commoners who live in extreme poverty. They are ruled by a Silver elite who possesses god-like supernatural abilities. For the Silvers, the Reds were born to serve them as slaves and die for them as soldiers. To seventeen year old Mare Barrow, a Red girl, it seems like nothing will ever change. Mare possesses a power of her own, and one that threatens to expose the sinister web of lies and deceit masterfully spun by the Silver elite. Disguised as a Silver in an attempt to hide that she is a Red, Mare is declared as a long-lost Silver princess.
Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen is a darkly compelling read that will have you hooked from the very beginning. Unexpected twists, turns and revelations run through the story like veins, making you want to know more. It’s hard not to lose yourself in the intriguing world she has created as I found myself unable to put the book down. Victoria ensures she does not give too much away with these twists and revelations. She appears to be guiding you down the path of deception, before presenting you with a big unexpected twist that hits you like an iron fist. You find out the truth when Mare Barrow does, and it is just as much of a shock for you as it is for her.
It’s quite endearing how Victoria reveals the characters to you, adding to that shock factor. Just when you thought you knew the characters and their intentions, it seems like they had been hiding behind a mask all along. Like the protagonist you are unsure of who to trust, you get to know them and trust them, then you realise they had been deceiving you all along. You realise this whole thing is more complex, sinister and dangerous than you thought.
The conflict between the Reds and the Silver elite is almost a chilling representation of real life conflicts between the rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless, and the good and the evil and the conspiracies that surround many of these conflicts. The King and Queen’s malicious grip on the Reds, and their treatment towards them, is almost a chilling depiction of the battles between us and those in power. Victoria’s portrayal of this conflict is so imaginative and intriguing; it makes it impossible to put the book down once you start reading.
Red Queen not only shows Red Vs Silvers, but also Mare against her own her. Love seems to have no significance to the Silvers, only their power and their supernatural abilities hold great importance to them. Their ego is so big they only fear losing their power, and they would risk anything for it. While selecting a wife at a Queenstrial, Princesses showcase their supernatural abilities. A Princess is only selected as the Prince’s bride based on how powerful her abilities are. By combining both the Prince and the Princess’s abilities together, you can imagine how powerful and strong their children will be. This is one of the main reasons why the princess is chosen, all that matters is strength and power.
The Prince and the Princess have no feelings for one another, and neither do they make any efforts to get to know each other and fall in love. All that matters is the bloodline, making the next generation of Silvers more powerful and stronger. They even become more malicious, the loathing they have for Reds passed down to them from their parents. It seems like Silvers have no heart.
Although Mare is engaged to the second Prince, Maven, she finds herself harbouring feelings for his brother and the future King, Callum. Callum’s feelings are mutual. It seems like this is the only genuine feeling in the heartless world of the Silvers. Victoria doesn’t give the love triangle between Maven, Callum, and Mare too much importance. Red Queen is all about the fight for the Reds freedom, and Mare understanding her abilities and what she really is while surviving the cold heartless world of the Silvers.
The characters develop perfectly through the story, each one just as intriguing as you yearn to know what’s on their minds. In the beginning Mare is seen simply as a girl in extreme poverty who steals due to desperation. She is seen as a disappointment to her family who wish she was more like her sister Gisa. Gisa appears to be the sole earning member, while Mare’s brothers are in the army.
Eventually, Mare develops into something more; she goes from being a disappointment and thief, to someone who is powerful and a threat to the Silver elite. Mare becomes the ray of hope shining on the Reds.
Apart from having a compelling narrative and interesting characters, there are some powerful messages in Red Queen; one of them being ‘power is a dangerous game.’ The story shows how much damage power and thirst for power can do. It also shows that one’s hunger for power has disastrous consequences as it leads to their downhill. With a Red girl having supernatural abilities which many Reds lack, it appears that the Silver things are about to change for the better or for the worst.
Want to give this a read? Red Queen is available at Waterstones in store and online.