Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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 superhuman 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 budding Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince and Mare against her own heart.

Sypnosis taken from here.

Throughout my unintended book shopping spree during my trip to Kuala Lumpur last May I was careful to avoid any book series, as having to buy more than one book at a time in Brunei drains my wallet a lot faster than I would have preferred. Alas, my hands seems to think otherwise. I bought the book thinking I found a good stand alone to read and ended up with a latest trilogy that is currently superbly hyped in the YA scene (I get burnouts way too easily, I basically only read trendsetters). Nevertheless, I am not completely regretful. Here’s some reasons why:

Firstly, In the middle of the book, I had an intense urge to listen to Taylor Swift’s Wonderland. It had somehow fit into the profile of the book: dark, rebellious, fantasy with a mess of adrenaline pumping beats. Listening to the lyrics after I finished reading, I felt like snapshots of the book were running behind my eyelids, each line referred to a paragraph, sentence, moment. And what’s better than a book that’s personifying one of your fave songs of the album?

Secondly, I have this thing of reading reviews after I read the book (its how I found out RQ is trending) and apparently there are plot twists? I never actually felt as if they were plot twists… more of a “my spidey senses are tingling” kind of thing. Basically, I expected most if not all of them. But I’d like to point out that there’s a difference between getting bored as soon as you guessed the twists and enjoying the blank space between the “expected” and the “reality”. Rather than having the twists hit me like a punch out of the blue, it was more like I was on edge during that blank space, bracing for what was to come and getting paranoid in between. I like to think that Aveyard plans this “subconscious guess” and plays along with it – jumping around any possibilities and giving false hopes – to which I find really helps in not boring the readers who have guessed correctly (or maybe I’m just easily entertained).

Speaking of which, another thing I was impressed with was how Aveyard really stuck with the major theme: “Betrayal”. Like how Hunger Games was “Struggle”, Divergent “Sacrifice” and even though I do find it somehow repetitive (“Anyone can betra-” “Yes! I know, I know betrayal is a thing so can we get on with the story??”) and kind of gave the readers too much of a hint but this is YA y’all, plus it’s still a great effort to keep up with the theme, so much better than if it was the other way around.

Unfortunately, one of the major flaws for me is something that Aentee also mentioned in her review, in which almost all some characters weren’t having as much character development. For example, Cal seemed so flat to me and even though Lucas is an all-round favourite, he’s still a side character that needs more flesh. Maven on the other hand is a better choice when it comes to character compared to his brother but that’s probably because I am smitten. All in all I’m looking forward to whether Aveyard can give more effort on other characters as much as she gives Mare. I like to think that well developed characters in novels – even minor ones – can help in world building. Exhibit A: beloved Hogwarts and Rowling’s effort in creating characters. Even though getting on JKR’s level is not an easy feat, I’d still appreciate some effort.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Despite some flaws I think it is an overall great package for a debut novel and I find it a good start to a trilogy – if one overlook the so familiar elements of a trending dystopian YA throughout the book (Hunger Games x Divergent x Wonderland anyone?). Which should say something as I’ve basically forgotten 70~80% of HG and DIV meat (it’s not you, books, It’s probably just my memory). But other than some “oh, this again” moments, it didn’t made me stop reading and I actually feel that Aveyard did a satisfactory take on them.

I’m hoping that these flaws and holes that I’m seeing are just stages for Aveyard to put a show on her next instalments – which I’d gladly pick up… not so soon-ish. Maybe. For Maven. Someday.

My Rating: My brain and heart agrees on a 3.7/5 for now. We all know Maven did all the work on that rating 😉

P/s: Am I doing this book review thing right? I drafted this on May and have forgotten all about it because I felt so insecure about writing reviews. I figured posting here would be better than posting on Goodreads so here goes! Tried hard not to give any spoilers even though I’d really like to go on deeper on the commenting haha, but hope you enjoyed! x


14 thoughts on “Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

  1. aentee @ read at midnight says:

    You definitely shouldn’t feel insecure about your reviews, I loved reading every word (and I usually skim read when I get bored, so this means high praise hehe :P)

    I’m glad you still enjoyed it despite the derivative plot element. I prefer Maven to Cal as well because omg where is the personality of the older prince? I think the series had potential despite having some weak points in term of originality.

    Lmao I did not see the plot twist coming because I was too busy eye rolling at the love triangle. You are smarter than I 😉

    Anyway fantastic review, I do hope you plan to write more in the future!!


    1. Nurul Atiqah says:

      Oh dear me!!! To hear that from you out of all people!!!!!! An honour!!!! I can’t even fathom!!! Ah!!!!!!! (does my excitement and happiness seems obvious). I’m so happy and honoured and appreciative and wow thank you so much this means a lot to me! 😀 ❤

      Cal was actually so much better for that tiny little moment when Mare tried stealing from him, sigh. Cal what happened to youuuuu (maybe the prospect of marrying Evangeline was too much for him??? poor Cal's personality) it definitely does have potential! I mean the setting is, despite derivative, quite entertaining. I'd love it if Aveyard delves more into the whole Red/Silver thing so fingers crossed for the next 2 books! It would be interesting how Silvers and even power!Reds come to existence and how the caste system really comes into being.

      I know!! It was sooooo frustrating to go through the sweet Mare/Maven since I was desperate for Maven to be good even though I just know he has something under his sleeve!!!. Maven being bad is still a good "twist" but my Mareven feels just can't 😥 I'd probably finally ship Cal/Mare but………….. only after Cal gets his personality back lmao

      Ahhhh!!! thank you so much!!! hopefully I will! I don't have a lot of YA/SFF at the moment so I'd probably review my more usual books from Murakami (which is extremely hard for me to do tbh. Because how can we even try to digest Murakami fully???)

      Thank you so much again for the lovely comment. You are the best! xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. aentee @ read at midnight says:

        No way your review are so much more eloquent than my own. You need to make this a regular thing!

        Cal showed a bit of promise at the end I guess? With his choice in selecting kingdom over love. Then the whole betrayal and patricide thing ruined his day.

        I guess with everyone going ‘ANYONE CAN BETRAY ANYONE’ every single chapter I should have seen the twist coming hahah.

        Murakami sometimes confused me tbh I still don’t understand 1Q84 fully haha. His most accessible book is Norwegian Wood! Which I loved.

        If you liked the Red/Silver thing in Red Queen you will absolutely adore Red Rising!! It’s one of my faves, check it out when you are in the mood for dystopia 🙂


      2. Nurul Atiqah says:

        Eeep that’s not true! I could never have pointed out things like you. But I’ll definitely try though, since I enjoyed writing RQ so much. But we may never know next time! He did actually, now that you mentioned it. It was one of the plot twists that slipped by me, although I should’ve figured that out somehow by his slight hesitation (or maybe just suspicion? he was somehow being a tad bit more guarded) with Mare especially when it comes to “royalty” or even to Mare/Maven. But I definitely find the whole complicated “we betrayed each other I save you you save me now what are we” engaging, much more than the twilight version of “love” by an indefinite amount.

        I believe one of the true Murakami experience is actually the confusion and how we’ll think about it in years to come, finally understanding bits of pieces and then losing it by the end of the day. It’s really weird for me, since I’ve NEVER liked being confused by stories, since I used to read SFF/Crime/YA such such such and being confused while reading those genres isn’t supposed to be a thing. But I’ve learned in Murakami, is that sometimes you just gotta let the words wash over you and follow his little strange world till the end and forgetting our own for a little while.

        Norwegian wood is one of my favourites! It’s the more subdued of his writings in terms of his (un)reality so I understand how NW speaks to more people than his other books.

        I sure will! I’ve read your review and I’m so curious about it since it made you so confused with the rating haha! I’ll make sure to mention it to you when I do have it!


  2. Nirvana says:

    Don’t feel insecure about your reviews. AT ALL. It was fab, and as Aentee said, I didn’t find myself skimming and the like at all. You did this perfectly ❤

    I've seen a load of reviews on Red queen, and it seems that either people love it, or they hate it. i'm nervous to start this, but the premise definitely sounds promising 🙂 SO YES. this goes on the TBR. Lovely review, Nurul ❤


    1. Nurul Atiqah says:

      Oh my gosh, you are such a bundle of sweets! Thank you so much, for you have made my day ❤ I can imagine how people hate it, if they were especially having a hard burnout from the repetitive dystopian elements (so if you are one of them, stepping aside for a few months may help) but there are many things to love as well! (ehemMAVENehem)

      Oooooh! I'm so happy for you! Please do tell me about your thoughts on RQ when you finish it, hehe. I'm excited 😀

      And you are lovely as well xo


  3. Cait @ Paper Fury says:

    I basically gave it the same rating/thoughts as you! 😀 I liked it, a little??? My biggest growl came at how many other YA books I saw in it, but then I read A LOT OF A LOT so that’s probably also a problem at times. >_< It just felt so unoriginal?! And I wasn't a fan of Mare. BUT MAVEN. OMG. MAVEN WAS INTERESTING. I will be reading the sequel solely for him. 😉
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!


    1. Nurul Atiqah says:

      (omg I am trash I am so late I am so sorry)

      This book makes me so confused and I’m glad I’m not the only one! DON’T WORRY, I don’t read many YA books in general so even I feel like it was derivative-ish. Mare…. could be better tbh, but like Cal, she felt a bit bland to me. I’m just all for Maven man, even if his silver blushes are fake I’M JUST – MAVEN – YOU DESERVE TO BE MY KING. Is there a “Reading RQ just for Maven” group somewhere so we can join? XD

      Welcome! (Love your blog btw <3)


  4. Lydia Tewkesbury says:

    The incredibly mixed reviews I’m hearing about this book are making me so intrigued to read it. Hopefully the flat characters will grow more depth as the series progresses.

    I like how you managed to mention Blank Space and Wonderland. Maybe we should start a new blogging challenge to see how many Taylor Swift song titles we can use per review, lol. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nurul Atiqah says:

      (Oh my gosh I’m so sorry for this very very late reply)

      I’d like to think that Aveyard is making them flat on purpose so she can go crazy with the character development for the next two books. XD

      Thank you! I can’t seem to make the song stop playing in my mind so I’m glad someone liked that reference heheh! (congrats in managing to find that hidden blank space ref ;))

      That actually sounds like fun! I’d read those reviews 😀


  5. Maripansu (@Maalipants) says:

    Hey! We’re mutuals on goodreads (I’m Amal Masle Helloooo) I found your review after finally finishing the second book, Glass Sword in this series. Omg did it take me a looOOONG time hahaha personally it’s not my cup of tea which is a shame 😦

    But yeah, just wanted to leave a comment here! I think your book review is great and thorough which means you should do more of them because I’ll definitely be reading them! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nurul Atiqah says:

      WhOOoAH. Hi!! I don’t know why I’m so excited that you commented 😆 thank you so much for reading and commenting! Especially for such an old review 🙈 I didn’t end up reading the rest of the series though, but hearing from you I think I made the right choice 🤔 and oooooooh my goodness thank you so much for saying you’ll read them 😍 it gives me motivation to start reading fiction and being more active on Goodreads 🙈 again, thank you for stopping by because you made my day! ✨


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