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