Always forever maybe book cover

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria AveyardRed Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Pages: 383
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This is a world divided by blood - red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart


Mare Barrow lives in a segregated world. There’s the “silver”, the ruling class of citizens that wield extraordinary powers, and the “red”, the powerless inferiors of the silver. Mare belongs to the latter. Born into poverty because of the color of her blood, she, like her family, like all reds, struggle to survive. There’s hardly enough food, and even less job prospects. Without a talent or apprenticeship, reds are forcibly drafted into the army. Forced to fight in a war that has raged for countless years, being recruited means an eventual and agonizing death for most reds.

With three older brothers already drafted, Mare and her family rely on Mare’s little sister, Gisa. Gisa has a great talent for sewing, which grants her not only a stable job, but also support for her family. Mare is not so lucky. Though she’s skilled when it comes to picking pockets, Mare doesn’t possess any type of lawfully marketable gifts. Mare knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s drafted.

In a desperate attempt to save herself, and her best friend Kilorn who is also going to be drafted, Mare conceives a plan to steal a large sum. With this large sum, a merchant has agreed to smuggle both Mare and Kilorn to safety. In a shocking turn of events, Mare fails, and Gisa ends up paying a vast price.

Devastated and beaten, Mare attempts to pick one last pocket before she’s taken from her home. Instead, and by chance, Mare meets a handsome, and mysterious stranger named Cal. This initial meeting changes Mare’s life irrevocably.

I devoured Red Queen. It’s a dystopian through and through, but a lot darker than most already on the market. I loved how silvers were considered “mutants” because of their abilities. There was a wide range of abilities such as; healing, metal control, fire control, mind control, and more.

Mare turns out to be more than she originally seemed. She becomes a strong symbol that both the reds, and silvers want to use, and abuse.

You truly can’t trust anyone in this book, because a lot of people want the throne, and they will do whatever it takes to get it. This book is all about deceit, and lies, and using others for your own means. Mare is told from numerous others not to trust them, because everyone lies, including Mare.

Red Queen focuses more on character development and world building, rather than romance. This was nice, because once the romantic elements started heating up, it didn’t feel forced, it felt organic and well-worth it.

If you’re a fan of X-Men, Game of Thrones, and dystopians like The Selection, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s got elements of each which then combine into a captivating read.

Thanks HarperTeen for providing me with a copy in return for a honest review.

four-half-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2) by Victoria Aveyard
Published by HarperTeen on February 9th 2016
Pages: 444
Goodreads

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Glass Sword takes place directly where Red Queen left off. Mare and Cal are still reeling from the death of the king and the ultimate betrayal by Cal’s brother Maven. Another twist at the end of Red Queen involved Mare’s thought-to-be dead brother Shade, who turned out to not only be alive, but also to possess the same rare blood type as Mare. However, instead of controlling lightning like Mare, Shade has the ability to teleport.

It kills me to say it, but I feel like Glass Sword succumbed to the dreaded second book slump. For example, the pacing was very slow. At the end of Red Queen we were promised that Book 2 would focus on locating the other special Reds like Mare and Shade before Maven could get to them, but this task didn’t even begin for a nearly a hundred pages. Nothing of real significance happened in the first hundred pages which made the first quarter hard to get through. I don’t know about any other readers, but if Glass Sword was the first book in a series and I could barely make it through the first hundred pages, I probably would have given up all together.

So far I’ve only spoken negatively of Glass Sword — but don’t get me wrong — I didn’t think it was all bad. True, I had a hard time getting through the book, but there were still parts that I really liked such as the growing bond between Mare and Cal.

Some romantic tension had flickered between Mare and Cal in Book 1, but the fire was definitely hotter between Mare and Maven. With Maven’s betrayal though, and Mare and Cal on the run, the relationship between Mare and Cal grows in Glass Sword. Even though the two are trying to avoid “distractions,” they can’t help but be drawn closer together both mentally and physically. I was a die-hard Mare and Maven fan in Book 1, and although I still secretly hope they could be endgame in some way, I really like the progress of Mare and Cal’s relationship. In Glass Sword they start out as allies, become friends, and then slowly realize that there’s something deeper between them. They are still 100% focused on their task, but they also share sweet moments of vulnerability here and there. This relationship is organic and slow-building and entirely realistic.

Like I said in my review for Red Queen, this series is definitely the type of story X-Men lovers will like. Mare takes on a very Professor X-like role in Glass Sword, hunting down other “mutant” Reds in a stealth ship while she and her crew wear matching suits.
I can only give this book three bolts because I don’t think it was nearly as amazing as Red Queen. However, after the cliffhanger in Glass Sword, I’m eager to see what happens next.

Thanks HarperTeen for giving a copy in exchange for a fair review.