Ever so often, books are so excellent that they speak for themselves from the very first pages. The first few lines draw the reader in while the chapters grip the reader making them stay till the end. These are some of the characteristics of a good book. Red Queen, unfortunately, does not possess any of that.
Before I continue, I should explain the format of my atypical book reviews. Formal reviews will be written for books that I deem deserving of them. In cases where the books are sub par, I came up with “live reviews”, where I detail what I am thinking through or after each sitting. Live reviews are very colloquial and dive more into my thoughts. Without further ado, let’s dive into Red Queen.
Red Queen is the debut novel of Victoria Aveyard. In a blog post, Aveyard attributes her publishing journey to a lot of luck (and talent of course, even though I beg to differ). Unlike a lot of other authors, Aveyard was in a meeting and mentioned that she wanted to write “the next big YA novel” so they gave her the green light and all she had to do was write. She did not have to worry about the struggles of finding an agent and that’s all good; success stories are always warm to hear!
Needless to say that Red Queen was hyped to the point that it was expected to be the next huge thing in the YA industry. Sadly, upon starting the book, disappointment hit me in the face like a truck. I have thousands upon thousands of books read under my belt and by now, it is very easy to tell how a book will be from the very first chapter. However, I do agree that some books take a little to develop but the development is highlighted early on.
I read the Twilight series and even gave the first fourteen pages of Fifty Shades a try but nothing would prepare me for the horror that Red Queen put me through. To clarify, I was not a big fan of the Twilight series, though I commend Stephenie Meyer for the
obsession movement she started and needless to say, I could not get past the bad writing structure of Fifty Shades. Either way, Meyer’s style of writing flows so reading Twilight was fairly easy. On the other hand, Red Queen might be the first ever book that I can confidently say I hated. Note that I have never hated a book before. Some of you might want a synopsis of Red Queen and I could not bring myself to write one without sarcasm, therefore, you can find it on Goodreads. Below is an insight in my reading diary, while I attempted to read Red Queen.
Just started the book and I am already thinking about putting it down. I think I got through Twilight easier and that says something.
I am 8% into the book and highly debating whether to put it aside. I have no desire to turn the pages. The main character, Mare, annoys me to the core. She makes Bella Swan from Twilight bearable. On her Tumblr blog, the author says that she “writes and complains”, why did I even think that the main character would not be a complainer? At the moment, I do not want to know what happens to her down the line. How do I carry on if the whole book is from her point of view?
I said I would soldier on and get through it, but my brain is begging me to stop. Here’s to Red Queen, the first book (Fifty Shades does not count!) I never finished.
Red Queen has been so hyped that my expectations were very high. Unfortunately, the writing was almost tedious, making it extremely difficult to get past the first three chapters. The main character is annoying. From the first few paragraphs, it seems that the author “borrowed” from The Hunger Games. Mare Barrow hates Silvers just like Katniss Everdeen hates The Capitol, except that Katniss is neither obnoxious nor annoying. The character constantly expressed her distaste for Silvers and we are barely three chapters in. We get it pal, you hate Silvers! That’s all that was there: Reds, Silvers, Reds, Silvers …at one point, I felt like I was learning colors.
There is nothing innovative about the book. The naming convention is poor: strongarm for people who are super strong, telky for telekinesis, and Hall of the Sun amongst other very basic names. It feels exactly like Aveyard mentioned on her post, she “wanted to write the next big YA novel” so she did it using a formula. Instead of focusing on the story and giving readers a solid plot and characters they don’t hate, the author seems to have made a list of everything that works in other successful books and crammed it to her own story. This is probably why the story is not inviting.
Funnily enough, Red Queen seems to have plagiarized the idea from Red Rising. How ironic is it that Mare’s last name is Barrow, while the main character of Red Rising is Darrow? Mare and Darrow are coincidentally both Reds (did Aveyard really think people wouldn’t read Red Rising?) and while Darrow is against The Golds, Mare is against The Silvers. As a fellow YA author, plagiarism of any kind upsets me. I understand that ideas can be recycled; after all, Suzanne Collins did it from Battle Royale and Lord of the Flies. The difference is that Collins added her own idea to it and did not just concoct a recipe for “the next huge YA novel.”
The apparent success and overhype of this book can thank teen girls and boys across the globe for their yearning desire of love triangles. In the end, the fandom deserves ample respect because they are the true MVP.
Rating: 1/5 ¢
Footnote: I know I am probably upsetting a fandom with my distaste for the book, but that’s the beauty of opinions – everybody has their own. Additionally, Twilight is mentioned several times in this post, because it is probably one of the very rare series I did not like. It has been the benchmark to bad literature for a while though it does look like Red Queen just dethroned it.