Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2015)

redThis popular book hits all the right notes for dystopian fans.

Recommended grade level: 7+

Pages:   383 (for ISBN 9780062310637)

Genre(s) and keywords: dystopian, science fiction, some romance

Tone/Style: dark, twisty

Pace: moderate

Topics: violence, court, cons, powers (supernatural)

Themes: oppression, resistance, trust, betrayal, loyalty

Summary: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal. (Source)

Who will like this book?: This book pretty much follows the YA dystopian formula. “Normal” girl who turns out to be special?  Check.  Love triangle? Check. Evil overlords? Check. Senseless carnage?  Check.  Give it to readers who have responded well to dystopian tropes in the past. There are plenty of twists, turns, and betrayals to keep readers gasping.

Who won’t like this book?: Readers looking for originality won’t find much here. It’s a pretty big book and has its slow points (in my opinion; I have talked to people who disagree with me). The exciting parts, though, are REALLY exciting. Readers just need to be willing to wait a little for a payoff.

Other comments: This book can get pretty violent, but no more so than the Hunger Games, in my opinion, and lots of middle schoolers read that. Other than that, there isn’t much to worry parents. A lot of the story revolves around political intrigue. And yes, there is a love triangle. This book has been quite popular, and I could see it exploding in the near future. (Then again, half the time I have no idea how a bestselling book got so popular, so maybe you shouldn’t trust me.)

Sequel(s): Glass Sword (2016); King’s Cage (2017)

Readalikes: Any of the usual suspects in YA dystopia should work, particularly The Selection by Kiera Cass and Divergent by Veronica Roth. Readers interested in monarchical political intrigue may like Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith.

-Kylie Peters

Image: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22328546

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