YA Book Club :: RED QUEEN

{YA Book Club is headed up by writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

This month’s YA Book Club selection is
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

From Goodreads ~ The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

This was a tough one for me, friends. Red Queen is a good book. It’s skillfully-written, well-paced, and full of interesting characters. It’s set in a world that felt fresh (though, after finishing, I saw it compared to The Selection and Red Rising, neither of which I’ve read), and there were plenty of twists I didn’t see coming.

Like I said, Red Queen is a good book.

I suspect I might be in the minority here, but… It’s not a Katy Book.

I can’t even pinpoint what my issue with it is, other than the fact that it simply did not make me feel anything. The characters are engaging enough, but I didn’t empathize with them and (forgive me) I didn’t care much about what happened to them. For me, there’s too much going on in Red Queen. The social tiers, the Silvers (with literal silver blood) and Reds (who’ve got red blood, obvs), the X-Men-like magical powers, the war-torn dystopian setting, the oddly set-up romantic entanglements, the family strife, the resistance… It was a lot for me to take in, and a lot to attempt to latch onto.

When I bought this book, I took my cue from its cover and its title. I was expecting fantasy, but what I got was rather jumbled dystopian/fantasy fusion. Admittedly, I’m sort of over dystopian, and when it comes to fantasy, I like my stories dark and gritty and super intense. Think The Winner’s Curse and Graceling and Finnikin of the Rock. I like touches of magic, and I like an organic, slow-burn romance. I prefer MCs who are not Chosen Ones. Red Queen’s MC, Mare, is definitely a Chosen One (though, I’ve gotta say, she handled the crazy turn of events with grace). Additionally, her story (particularly the romantic aspects) was just too light for me. Mare’s voice can be humorous, sarcastic at times, which is probably a good thing for other readers — she truly is amusing in certain scenes — but the overall tone of the story was not my taste.

I can certainly see Red Queen‘s merits, and I understand why it’s garnered the buzz it has. I’ve decided to drop my gently-read copy during next month’s Rock the Drop because I’d love to see it find its way into the hands of a teen reader who might fall in love with its positive qualities.

What did you think of this month’s YA Book Club selection?

(Book Clubbers: Don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to add your link!)


12 thoughts on “YA Book Club :: RED QUEEN

  1. Jennifer Pickrell says:

    Yep, definitely a lot going on and some odd pacing; there were a few places where I thought I’d accidentally skipped a page because things were moving so fast and other places where the scene went on for multiple chapters.

    I was disappointed over the romance, too – I would have preferred a build-up with one guy, even the bad guy, it didn’t matter, as long as there was something that felt like a real connection.

    • Katy Upperman says:

      Yeah, there were several instances where I skimmed because scenes felt like they were dragging. I just wanted more from this one overall, especially considering its beautiful cover and promising summary. *sigh*

  2. Rachelwrites007 says:

    I haven’t read this one and don’t have a desire to (see my reasoning on Jaime’s blog fr why) but I do have some suggestions. If you liked the X-Men powers aspect, try out THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken. If you like the romance but want more high fantasy/court intrigue, try CROWN DUEL by Sherman Sherwood. If you want a slow-burn romance (though it’s sci-fi), try THESE BROKEN STARS. Can’t wait to see what the next pick is!

    • Katy Upperman says:

      I’ve read THE DARKEST MINDS (not really for me either) and THESE BROKEN STARS (which I loved!), but I haven’t tried CROWN DUEL yet. Thanks for the rec, Rachel. And regarding your comment on Jaime’s post, I heard this author interviewed in a podcast, and I thought the story of her book’s pub journey all sounded very… lucky? I mean, it’s amazing for her, but yeah. As someone who’s been trying to get a YA pubbed for ages, it was a little disheartening. Where can I dig up some of that luck?!

  3. Jaime Morrow says:

    This is a very gracious review, Katy. You’ve done a great job pulling out the good things and reminding me that they’re there. There were definitely things I liked about this book, but I feel like they got crowded out by the things I didn’t, which is a big bummer. Towards the end of the book, I found myself skimming a fair amount. Never a good sign. Like you, I took a lot of cues from the appearance of this book and was let down by the reality of it. I really don’t think we’re at fault for that, though. Ah well. I guess we’ll just have to rave about the awesomeness of books like THE WINNER’S CRIME and FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK, right? Darn. 😉

    Great review, Katy! 😀

    • Katy Upperman says:

      I skimmed toward the end, too, Jaime. Quite a lot, actually, and I didn’t feel the guilt I usually do when flipping through, so that says a lot. I can definitely see RQ’s positive qualities, but for me, they’re out-weighed by the overwhelming sense of apathy I felt when it came to the characters and their futures. Kind of a bummer. BUT. I’ve had lots of fun discussing this one with you all! 🙂

  4. Tracey Neithercott (@T_Neithercott) says:

    I don’t mind MCs who are Chosen Ones—I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns, for instance—but I had a hard time here. Part of it was because I didn’t know why Mare was different. Why were Reds getting Silver powers? There’s a hereditary element, but mostly this stuff was unexplained (perhaps in book two?) and so it felt more like Mare was special for the sake of being special. It also felt a lot like other YA heroines I’ve read before. But you know my thoughts on this one. 🙂

    • Katy Upperman says:

      I haven’t read GoFaT, but perhaps I should if it’s a good example of a Chosen One. I’ve got lots of fantasy in my future, thanks to you guys! 🙂

  5. Erin Funk says:

    Your review hits on so many things that I felt too. I agree there was too much going on. It felt like the book overreached and didn’t take the time needed to develop any of those elements. I prefer my fantasy dark and gritty as well (also my sci-fi, which is how I tend to write), and the romance was too light for my taste as well. Like you, I’m a big fan of the slow burn in what I read and write. FINNIKIN is sitting in my TBR pile and I really, really need to get to it soon. Anyway, RQ wasn’t an Erin book either. 🙂

    • Katy Upperman says:

      Oh, Erin — you have to read FINNIKIN soon! That book (the whole trilogy!) is one of my all-time favorites. Melina Marchetta can do no wrong in my eyes. Also, I have a very strong feeling I’ll be a fan of your writing. Do think of me next time you’re looking for a beta. 🙂

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