Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Quick Recap of Red Queen (What I Read of It)

When I started reading The Red Queen by Victoria Aveley, I had hopes that it would be different from the books that have been disappointing me.  I ... liked it?

Let's face it, I have a soft spot for fictional pickpockets.  Mare is a Red in a world divided into Reds and Silvers; the colors refer to the color of their blood.  Reds are humans like we are today, while Silvers would be termed superheroes.  Silvers have powers, like controlling fire, being extremely strong, or mind-control.  There's also a war going on--this war seems to be occuring simply to drive certain parts of the plot forward.  All teens who are unemployed at a certain age are conscripted, and conscription is basically a death sentence.  Mare has already lost her older brothers, and she's next, along with her friend, Finley.  Thankfully, Mare's little sister Gisa has a great talent for sewing and embroidery, so she works for the Silvers in their fancy city.

There was an interesting scene in the beginning of the novel where Finley and Mare go to what's basically a gladiatorial spectacle.  You'd think that in this type of society, with the level of disdain that the Silvers have for the Reds, the Silvers would watch the Reds battle it out as the ancient Romans threw wild animals and slaves into the arena to fight.  However, these battles allow Silvers to showcase their different abilities.  Finley and Mare watch one that has an unusual outcome, but the ominous foreshadowing that happened with the victor just petered out.  Anyway, Finley and Mare, both faced with conscription (and therefore certain death) try to find a way to get smuggled out of the city. Except it costs a lot of money.

Mare, who is quickly sliding into the Clueless Heroine role, decides that she'll sneak into the Silvers' city with her sister and try to steal something from them.  This is clearly a BRILLIANT idea, since Silver's can read minds, teleport, you know, catch you stealing from them.  Whatever.

Alas, a Super Secret Underground Rebel Group (necessary in these types of books) attacks two government buildings.  The Silvers proceed to beat up all the Reds in their vicinity.  A Red crushes Gisa's "sewing hand" so she can never work again *faints* and will also be up for conscription.  Mare, feeling guilty, does what any self-respecting guilty person would do: she goes to a bar.

There, she attempts to pickpocket a man, but he catches her.  He is young and handsome (yawn), and gives her money for trying to steal from him, mostly because he's impressed with her spunk.  Ha ha.

Question of truth: How many readers have already guessed who the mysterious Hot Guy is?

The next day, Mare is summoned to work at the King's Palace.  She has a mysterious benefactor who recommended her for the job.  She hangs out there, doing her servant thing, until a Fateful Day.  There must be a Fateful Day.

In choosing a Queen, the Crown Prince has the option of picking from noble Silver girls who must show off their talents to him in a sort of Miss America pageant, sans bikinis.  The last hopeful summons lightning, and to her infinite surprise, Mare is able to control it.  Hold!  She is not a Silver, and therefore cannot do magic!  But she can!  She is a ... SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE!  What to do, what to do?

The king, up til now described as horrible, ruthless, and uncouth, does the least logical thing.  He gives Mare a new identity as a long-lost Silver noble and engages her to the Crown Prince's younger brother.

If I were a ruthless and horrible tyrant, I would kill anyone who threatened my power and hold over the people.  Mare clearly does that by her very existence, and any tyrant worth his or her salt would have simply made her disappear, and then use the Whispers (people who can enter others thoughts) to create false memories of the event.  Boom.  Problem solved.

However, if that had happened, the book would have ended and we wouldn't have had a vehicle for drawn-out romances and double-crosses and the old survive-at-court trope. Ugh.  I stopped about here.  I also read the ending, which was even more improbable.

An early blurb of this must have described The Red Queen as "Graceling meets The Selection."  Now, I haven't read The Selection, nor do I intend to, but I know the gist of it.  I love Graceling with all my heart, and The Red Queen is nothing, nothing like it.  Thankfully.  I'm a bit mystified at all of the fangirling over this book, with multiple fainting/grabby GIFs in the reviews and how this is teh best book EVAR GUYZ and all that.  This borrows so heavily from Red Rising and numerous other dystopian-lite romances that I can't take it seriously.  And honey, a pretty cover is not a valid reason to rate a book you haven't even read yet with five stars.

I received an ARC of this title from Edelweiss.

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