I think it's safe to say that a lot of us have had it up to our wands with dystopian YA literature. I mean, after a while you just start comparing everything to The Hunger Games or Divergent. If it's not vampires, it's teenager trying to overthrow an oppressive government while wrestling hormones, amiright?
But to me, Red Queen stands out. Maybe it's because I read it just after having finished Divergent, I don't know. But let me get this out of the way- I didn't like Divergent. Maybe I'll get around to writing a full review of it one day, but for now, honestly, it just didn't do it for me. I would probably feel differently had I read it years ago when everyone was so keen on it. But after five years in the library and hearing kids constantly holding it up as the epitome of YA, I guess I just expected more. As far as I'm concerned, the fanatical zeal my students show for it couldn't be more misplaced. I mean, sure, it's not as bad as Twilight, but come ON, we all knew Twilight was bad and that's what made it so good! (*whispers* team jacob!) Anyway, Divergent is ok, but I think there are so many better books out there. With more likable characters. And less gratuitous violence. Alright. I need to regroup.
Ahem, anyway, I hesitantly picked up Red Queen after finishing the-book-which-must-not-be-named. I'll admit, it started out slow, but some books need to in order to develop character and gain currency. I liked the main character Mare and even enjoyed the whole predictable love triangle thing. Sure there's a lot of violence, but it wasn't monotonous or over the top. The political aspect was intriguing and intricate without weighing down the plot. And finally, my favorite- (spoiler alert) SHE CAN SHOOT FRACKING LIGHTNING BOLTS FROM HER FINGERS! And, I swear, every time she does, I think of Emperor Palpatine. Weird, huh?
If you want a better synopsis or plot summary, then here. But I've already gone on long enough. Suffice it to say that Mare grew up a Red- a member of a repressed, marginalized community subjugated by the "superior" Silvers. The Silvers are humans who have evolved to possess the ability to manipulate natural elements. Their blood, explicably enough, is silver. Each family has a different gift, like controlling fire, metal, or water, etc. Silver society is built upon the backs of the Reds and Mare assumes her life will be one of toil and strife. However, due to events that are equal parts disastrous and miraculous, Mare finds herself plucked from obscurity and given an opportunity to provide for her family and keep them safe. As a servant to the royal silver family, Mare accidentally discovers that, while her blood is as red as her families, she possess an exceptional ability.
She discovers that she is Red and Silver and stronger than both. But will she stay alive long enough to keep her family safe?
Aveyard, V. (2015). Red queen. New York: Harpercollins.