Aly in Wonderland

Red Queen

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard This is another episode of Inside Aly's Brain, and not totally complete. Full, better review to come!

**Thank you to Orion for sending me and ARC in exchange for an honest review. **

I used to think there was only the divide, Silver and Red, rich and poor, kings and slaves. But there's much more in between, things I don't understand, and I'm right in the middle of it. I grew up wondering if I'd have food for supper; now I'm standing in a palace about to be eaten alive.
Red in the head, Silver in the heart

To say Victoria Aveyard took me by surprise would be an understatement. I went into this with mid-high expectations, wanting to love it but at the same wanting to not love it so I wouldn't be terribly disappointed. The truth is, I was both. I was both delighted and slightly disappointed, but not enough to stop me from reading the next books. (No pressure here, Aveyard. Just pop 'em out soon, okay, and no one gets hurt.)

I've seen this sort of thing done before, like with Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses where the roles are reversed. What are now considered as "below" your average being have been flipped to be "on top." Where I didn't enjoy Malorie's execution of her series, I enjoyed what Aveyard presented.

In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don't believe that.
The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.

Mare Barrow lives in a world divided by the colour of your blood. Where other worlds and countries have been divided by politics, skin, beliefs, this dystopian creation is split by the colour of the blood that runs through your veins. If you're a Red, you're the scum of the earth, the lowest of the low. You're a slave, you're poor, you barely have warm running water and you live in the slums - the Stilts. If your blood is Silver, it means you're a noble. You have powers -- telkies, nymphs, whispers -- and you have money and food and clothes. You use the Reds until they die. At which point, you will discard them and move onto the next group.

She has no hope left. Soon, she will be conscripted. When she finds out her best friend, a boy she's taken care of since childhood, has been fired from his job, thus sealing his fate to war, she desperately seeks out the help of a rebel group who want to rise, as Red as the dawn. The price they ask her to pay is too much, and she resigns herself to her fate.

The only thing that serves to distinguish us, outwardly at least, is that Silvers stand tall. Our backs are bent by work and unanswered hope and the inevitable disappointment with our lot in life.

But things are changing in Mare's world. From petty thief, she becomes something more. An important change, yet one that may cost her her life.

On one dark, desperate night, after all hope seems lost, she tries to steal from the wrong man. He pays her a kindness, only to reveal himself later as the person Mare least expected...

The glass goblets in my hands drop, landing harmlessly in the sink of water.
I know that smile and I know those eyes. They burned into mine only last night. He got me this job, he saved me from conscription. He was one of us. How can this be?
And then he turns fully, waving all around. There's no mistaking it.
The crown prince is Cal.

Soon, she finds herself thrown into a mad, wild goose chase and intrigue, deception, politics and a "love triangle" between two wild-opposite princes. But, as always, anyone can betray anyone.

Okay, so this is where my problems start. The "love triangle" I've heard people rave about. So gather around children, for Aly is going to tell you a little story.


This isn't a love triangle. When this happened:

It was him who saved me from Evangeline. Cal who saver me from escaping and bringing more pain upon myself. Cal who saved me from conscription. I've been too busy trying to save others to notice how much Cal saves me. How much he loves me.

I did this:


I dare you to tell me I didn't "get it" or whatever, but the truth is that there is no semblance whatsoever to a concrete enough romance for me to think "Oh, aaalll the ohes!" When this triangle came to light, so to speak, I was left very perplexed and confused. Why? Because not only are the 'relationships' a handful of times, if that, and Mare kisses the boys once each. How does that create love? Even for insta-love, I found it hard to believe. They were barely more than acquaintances.

There was literally no chemistry, no relationship, nothing to make me think that Mare liked them or that the boys liked her.

Another problem I had was with the world-building. I feel that, for dystopia, we were given close to nothing to work on. We don't know why the world is the way it is, or why there are suddenly people with powers and silver blood running around, smashing shit up and killing puppies, just that it is that way. I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt for this, though, because Mare, our MC, has only ever seen the Stilts (her hometown) and the Palace, a giant glass structure, so she hasn't seen the world and doesn't know enough to explain to us why things are that way. I'm hoping to see more explanations in the coming books. (Which I am mega excited for, by the way.)

I also wasn't entirely sold on Mare's relationship with her family, or with the other people around her. She speaks of her family only to cement the idea that Reds are poor and weak, and they deserve more. What happened to good memories in bad times? Mare has none, she only gives us the sad stuff. Like her relationship with Kilorn, her childhood best friend, I saw it more as a convenience than actual friendship... and I felt the same about Julian, her instructor at the palace.

However, this a me-not-you thing. From the other glowing reviews, I can see that everyone loved the characters, the story, everything, but I did and didn't. I guess I needed a little more... oomph to completely sell me on this story. The second half was much, much better and I raced through it.

Overall? I will definitely recommend this book to my friends, I will do a re-read later on (it might just be that I wasn't quite in the mood for dystopia, and I expect to love it the second time round) and I am looking forward to the next books!

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