Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Red Queen

Mare Barrow is red blooded and the color of her blood will forever trap her in the lowest echelon of the society she lives in. The Silvers oppress and enslave her people, forcing them to take menial jobs or choose conscription. Mare resigns herself to conscription because she has no education, no trade, and no prospects. She provides what little she can for her family by picking pockets while the bulk of support comes from her sister's intricate sewing for rich Silvers. Tragedy strikes and all their prospects are gone until Mare meets a mysterious young man who gets her a job as a servant for Silvers. A bizarre accident reveals power she never knew she had. Now she must convincingly pretend to be Silver and navigate their elitist society or die.

Red Queen takes place in an interesting world that's a mix of new and old. It's set far in the future with advanced technology, but still keeps old fashioned court, clothing, and the poor are kept from the technological benefits. Mare's hometown is a slum where electricity is rationed and food is scarce. The Silvers enjoy every luxury. The highest of Silver society has special powers ranging from telekinesis to fire manipulation to superhuman speed. I like the general world. Mare is a fine protagonist that does the best she can with what she's given. She doesn't always make the best decisions and I sometimes wanted to shake her and yell at her, but she's trapped. No path is clearly the right one. I like how some of the characters seem like flat stock characters, but end up being something more as the book goes along. The story moves well and it only took a few days to read. Despite some misgivings I had, it was addicting and I had to know what happened.

I had quite a few problems with the book. The Red aspect is very close to Red Rising. The romance aspects with princes and weddings are like The Selection. The rich vs. poor and Mare as the poster child for the rebellion is like The Hunger Games. It's as if the author took all the successful tropes of the past few years and smashed them all into one book. The logic of the world does not always compute and it's too much to list here. Here are some highlights. How can they convince anyone that Mare is Silver? Are people supposed to believe that she's never seen her own blood? Reds are forced to fight for Silvers despite their physical inferiority and lack of supernatural powers. Why not just use Silver strength and badassery to end the war? Moving on, the romance takes up entirely too much of the book. There are 3 love interests and none of them are that great. Who cares who you like or who likes you when there are an infinite amount of things more important? Lives are at stake. Get over it.

Overall, I enjoyed Red Queen, but it's extremely derivative, lacks logic at times, and the romance plays too big of a role. I might read the second book of the series, but I don't have an intense need to. The world is interesting and I would like to see how the story progresses, but I fear the problems I have with the novel will only get worse.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

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