by Victoria Aveyard
(some spoilers, if you care)
I put this book on my list because it won a Goodreads Choice Award. Often when that happens, a book is worth my time and I enjoy the read. Unfortunately for me (and my friends to whom I read snippets aloud) this book was terrible. There was little to nothing redeeming in the prose, story, or ideas. I have no idea why anyone would find Red Queen enjoyable, much less commendable.
Let’s start with what I consider to be essential in a fantasy volume: world-building. The world is presented as a fundamentally simple one. There are the Silvers (whom we hate) and the Reds. They are called Silvers and Reds because of the color of their blood. Literally. The Silvers (whom we still hate) rule the land – or possibly the world, it was hard to tell – because they have superpowers. The Reds are the underlings because they don’t. Well, except for our heroine. She is special.
The Silvers’ powers include mind control in various forms, elemental bending, fostering flora, and negating another’s powers. The powers are apparently genetic, as families share the same powers. Unfortunately, Aveyard breaks her own rules on this by the end of the book, so I am forced to assume that power distribution is random.
The Reds are supposed as being horribly oppressed, except that there is very little evidence that they are so. There is military conscription for some groups, and not enough jobs to go around. Additionally, the Silvers are richer, some opulently so.
Obviously, our heroine has to be a Red. How would she be a Mary Sue otherwise? She is not only from the lower class, she also 1) has a perfect younger sister 2) ends up having powers because plot 3) has three love interests (two of which are princes) 4) is raised up to princessdom and 5) secretly works for the rebellion. I am sure there is more. I honestly lost track of how trope filled and cliche ridden this character is. And since the book is written from first person, you cannot get away from her.
Did I mention we hate the Silvers? In case you ever forget, it comes up every other page of the book in some form. But actually, though. I looked. Let me be perfectly clear on this. The writing is bad. Word choice, style, and storytelling all make it painfully obvious that this is a first novel. My husband and my friends can attest that I read multiple passages aloud just to hear the groans and/or rage that I could get in response. One response included an observation that failed romance novelists could probably write better.
After the first chapter I started trying to predict what would happen next. It was far too easy. In theory, there was a big twist at the end. Except nothing about it was remotely surprising. It wasn’t even interesting. It was so cliched that I was bored during the ending chapters. The sad thing was, they were the most interesting part of the book.
If there had been just one original idea in this book, it would have prevented a lot of my ire. As it stands, I doubt I will ever read anything by Aveyard again.