The Red Queen Book Review

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Book Review

Another hyped-up series! How can I resist? I’ve been looking to get to this series for a while and now that the third book is out, I went ahead and got all three for a back-to-back reading.  Red Queen has been blowing up GoodReads since its release in 2015 and judging from the sheer volume of reviews, I knew this series was in my future. It’s my favorite genre and I’m a sucker for series. Orion | February, 2015 | Paperback | 383 pp

In Aveyard’s world, the people are separated by blood. Those with silver blood rule over all with amazing abilities used to frighten, control, and enslave. Those with common red blood serve the Silvers in poverty and fear. They also serve on the front lines of a century-old war, spilling their red blood and dying for their cruel Silver masters. To frighten the Reds into submission, they are required to participate as spectators at gladiator-style fight between Silvers. This serves to show how strong Silvers can be and why you should never rise up against them.

Mare Barrow is a young thief and lowly red coming up on conscription time. With no job, she will be sent to the front lines when she becomes of age – and there is no hope of escape. Her older brothers had already been sent to war, her sister and her best friend both had lost their opportunities to avoid conscription, and Mare was picking pockets at the bottom of the barrel when she was caught by a mysterious young man. Instead of finding herself punished, she lands a job at the Silver palace. Conscription has been avoided, for now.

She begins palace work on an unusual day. It is Queenstrial and the noble young women of age will compete for the hand of the prince, showing off their powerful Silver abilities. When the last and strongest competitor shakes up the arena, Mare is sent flying to her doom. But she doesn’t die and is publicly revealed to have powers of her own. Reds aren’t supposed to have any powers, a fact which creates an unusual opportunity for the royals.

With a group of rebel Reds rising up against the Silvers, the king and his devious queen decide to use Mare as a political pawn. Although her blood runs red, they lie and say that she is a long-lost Silver who had been raised by the Reds after being orphaned following an attack perpetrated by their enemies. Mare could bridge the gap between the Silvers and the Reds by acting as a conduit, a faux-Silver who has the potential to be loved and trusted by the Reds.

But Mare has no intention of following through in their royal intrigues. She has her own plans. Using her connection to the Red Guard, the Red rebel group, she believes she can hurt the Silvers the most by being exactly where no other Red can be – in the middle of their elite world. The question is, who can she trust? Cal, the eldest son of the royals and the one who has saved her several times yet supports the current caste model? Or the quiet second son Maven, the one to whom she is betrothed and the one who empathizes with her world?

First, I’ll say that I enjoyed it! It was exciting and an absolute joy to read. Getting lost in this world was all too easy. I did find it very similar to other books, almost like a mixing of: Throne of Glass (where a girl of lowly stature finds herself living it up at the palace), The Winner’s Curse (a political fantasy pitting the ‘haves’ with the ‘have-nots’), and Red Rising (oh, those lowly Reds). In that sense, it didn’t blow me away with originality.

The world building is a little jarring. I couldn’t quite grasp it or see it perfectly in my mind. The Silvers lived well in mansions and palaces with all the comforts of modern technology: electricity, televisions, automobiles, and even jets. The Reds practically lived in 18th-century squalor, with the exception of sparse electricity. The world had a feudal setup with serfdom and castles, and, bizarrely, high-tech advancements only benefiting the Silvers. It really didn’t make much sense except to illustrate the extreme disparity. Then again, it doesn’t have to make sense. This is high fantasy.

On Mare’s character, I quite like Mare’s special power. And I can’t wait to see where it will lead since her power has the ability to grow into something extraordinary. I also love the fact that she isn’t wishy-washy. She isn’t constantly dwelling on her appearance or her love interests.

This first books ends with some pain. Betrayal, betrayal everywhere. Even our precious Mare betrays others and it is incredibly painful to read. I love a book that can hit me in the heart. I will be reading the next two in the coming weeks and I can’t wait.


Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)




Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist. Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult – but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads. Aside from her love of good books, she is a professional website developer, content editor, and SEO expert. You can visit her web design and development site at RebeccaSkane.com.


  • This is a hyped up series that I haven’t been able to start yet, sadly. Whenever I read a review of it, though, I keep thinking that I need to prioritize it. :p Glad to read another great review of it! Looking forward to seeing what you think of the sequels!

    • Thanks, Alyssa. The reviews seem fairly polarized – you might love it or hate it!

      • I’ve been noticing that as well, which kind of makes me scared to read it. :p I’ll get to reading it eventually.

  • Emily @ Paperback Princess

    Sometimes the hype definitely pays off! I think the whole “power” aspect really sold this book for me because it gave it such a magical feel! Plus I loved the atmosphere created with the palace. Enjoy reading the next two! 🙂

    • I loved the whole idea of the powers as well, and the variety of powers. Gave it a Mistborn feel. Love it!

  • Lynn Williams

    So glad you enjoyed this and look forward to seeing what you make of the next two. I haven’t read this series so maybe I’ll have to add it to my wishlist.
    Lynn 😀

  • I enjoyed this one as well and I still need to read the next two. So curious about what happens next and I think I really need to get on the library to get those books! Brilly review!

  • I really enjoyed this one. I didn’t love the next one and actually stopped reading it. I really hope it goes better for you and look forward to your reviews of the other books!

    • Thanks, Grace! I’m on the second book now but have only just begun. I shall find out soon!

  • I too had issues with the world-building in this one. I figured since this was the first in a series that we would get a lot of explanation and description, but it was kind of lacking and I had so many questions! Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the next book, so I won’t continue with the series – sometimes I feel like I’m in the minority because this series is so hyped but I just couldn’t get into it!

    • I’ve been seeing a lot of problems from reviewers on the second book. I’m only halfway through so we shall see! Thanks, Angela!

  • I did enjoyed it too! My review is coming up too and Funny! I said the same I found similarities to Hunger Games and Red Rising too! 🙂 I have to finish the series. Now off to read your review of book 2 🙂

  • I really enjoyed this one in the series. I’m heading over to your other review now to see what you made of the second installment. Great review!

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