Elise (TheBookishActress)'s Reviews > Red Queen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
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My friend Claire commented that “Red Queen” is a genre now, and I think that is a sadly accurate point. There is nothing truly horrifically bad about this book. There's just nothing good either. It's fascinating to me that a book with nothing new or special has become such a hyped fave. The concept Aveyard came up with here is solid - dark, gritty, full of morally black characters. The lead is somewhat of an antiheroine. So what, exactly, is wrong here?

First of all, there is very little actual plot to this book. The main conflict of this book is that Mare's opposition, Evangeline is a Mean Girl who is dating Mare's True LoveTM. Mare's other enemy is the queen, who is also a Mean Girl character and who lacks any actual role in the book. We are set up for something scary and eerie and full of twists and turns and we get the literary equivalent of white bread. Which is sad, because there are some entertaining moments, and the story isn't bad, but all the drama seems petty, rather than manipulative and high-stakes.

There's one exception to this whole rule: the ending twist is pretty good. I genuinely don't get surprised by twists very often and I think I found myself expecting a twist that didn't happen rather than the one that did. The twist is the only thing that ever would have convinced me to continue on in the series.

As a character, Mare is somewhat less terrible than some reviewers find her. She's just not... actively interesting. She's a bit too arrogant and unlikable to be a super-easy-to-root-for compelling lead. Which is weird, because generally I prefer unlikable leads. It's just that her characterization serves no narrative purpose; her moral ambiguity is barely acknowledged, to the point where I'm not sure the author actually understands she's writing an antihero. Mare would make a supremely compelling antihero; unfortunately, she's not written as one.

My other problem with Mare is that she's a more passive than active character, meaning she's not nearly interested enough in saving her life. I think this tends to be a problem with young adult female protagonists of around 2012, and I'm sort of fascinated by it as a phenomenon, but the point stands: Mare needs more self-preservation instinct for her fighting for her life to be compelling.

In terms of romance... ugh. First of all, I don't even hate love triangles, and I frankly don't think most of us really hate love triangles on principle! They just need to be interesting ones, right? But all the characters here are too flat for anyone to get even slightly invested. The romance plot with Cal is forgettable, made even more so because he's not remotely likable. Maven has some potential (view spoiler). And Kilorn is in love with her essentially as a side plot. It's like the love triangle from The Selection, except with two princes AND a small-town boy. Who does this, and why should I care?

Honestly, this book is just... ridiculously forgettable, sort of boring, and it's all fine, but it's not really worth your time.

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Reading Progress

August 12, 2016 – Started Reading
August 28, 2016 – Finished Reading
August 29, 2016 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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Nanna Stacey I agree with most of what you have said.. but am very surprised with a 2 star rating to be honest! I am a believer in 'surely it gets better' so I bought the whole series so I can see what happens... so hopefully it picks up a bit/a lot

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Stacey well, a two star means “it was okay” and that was how I felt! the reviews I’ve seen seem to indicate it doesn’t get better :// but I hope you enjoy the rest.

Jeff I did like this book, however the next two weren’t that great..just not much plot action happening XD

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Jeff yeah that’s what I’ve heard :// it’s sad, honestlyb

Ashleigh 🥀 Writing Mare as an antihero -> yes. I can appreciate an unlikable character, and most of the time, it's not a bad thing. However, Mare has a righteousness that I just cannot get behind.

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Ashleigh I TOTALLY agree. I just wish it were a flaw acknowledged by the narrative rather than something that feels accidental.

message 7: by J R (new) - added it

J R Lynn Sorry you didn't like it. Hope your next read is better! :)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ I've been tempted by this book several times but always ended up not reading it. Sounds like I made the right call. :)

Kelly I completely agree. This one had everything going for it, but the author just didn't do the plot any justice. It just felt flat all the way through. I decided not to continue and am very happy with the choice as I've seen other readers flounder in the later (and much longer) books.

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Tadiana honestly, that’s probably the right decision. I understand some of the appeal but this is just not there yet.

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Kelly I’ve seen that too!! this was at least fairly easy to get through.

Abigail 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼
I agree with everything you said.

Elise (TheBookishActress) Abigail wrote: "🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼
I agree with everything you said."

thank you, Abigail!

message 14: by LGormley (new) - added it

LGormley Have to agree this really fell short for me too. Very flat.

P.s leave white bread out of this.

Maria I want to read this, but I am conflicted, because I'm worried I won't really enjoy it like you :/ I think in the end I'll give in, but the more reviews I'm reading...

message 16: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey this review is so fascinating. Now I'm interested in that 2012 phenomenon you mentioned; I think there's some weird truth to that, and probably the reason why I can't get into any of these staple YA fantasy series....

Elise (TheBookishActress) Kelsey wrote: "this review is so fascinating. Now I'm interested in that 2012 phenomenon you mentioned; I think there's some weird truth to that, and probably the reason why I can't get into any of these staple Y..."

understandable! i feel like i just like the conceit of this book (and many others) more than the reality.

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