Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My mom recommended this book to me because I went to high school with the author. Reading her bio, I’m now rather envious of how she ended up, but it’s no use comparing myself to her. And that’s not why we’re here, so let’s talk about the book.

What a trip.

It started off a little shaky for me, because it felt overly similar to The Hunger Games. Dystopian setting where poor people live in backcountry shadows of an overbearingly rich government that uses violence to keep people in their place. Hmm… At first it felt like the only thing that was significantly different was the fact that, for some reason, I wanted to read the whole thing in a Scottish accent. I still don’t understand why.

But this book is far from a Hunger Games knockoff. That being said, if you enjoyed The Hunger Games, as I did, you will definitely enjoy this book.

While keeping the same dystopian tone and setting, with a stark contrast between the classes, Red Queen incorporates more fantasy elements (whereas Hunger Games focuses more on technology). Imagine how much scarier an iron-fisted monarchy is when the people in power possess god-tier magical abilities.

If there’s one thing Aveyard does exceptionally well, it’s raise the stakes.

On a prose level, the book is clearly written for young adults, which is perfectly fine (especially since I can see a lot of young adults loving it). The pace drags in certain areas, where protagonist Mare falls into some Katniss-like introspective episodes that draw away from the action. However, there is enough suspense, danger, and conflict to fill in the gaps, especially once you get past the first 100 or so pages.

This book has more twists than a rotini noodle. I think I gasped out loud at a couple of points, and the ending sets up fantastically for a sequel.

I’m very glad Aveyard is also a screenwriter, and you can see traces of it in the way she constructs plot. I hope she one day turns this book into the jaw-dropping hit movie it deserves to be.

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