Red Queen : A Review - Reading List

Red Queen : A Review

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

As my kids are growing up, and school reading lists are making there way into our house, I'm finding myself drawn to more popular fiction again.  As I have always loved literature, I'm very particular about the level of writing I pick up, in case you are used to my past reviews, I am not very forgiving on books that are not edited well and all my favorites in fiction need to have well developed characters and extensive settings.  I think this speaks to classic literature.

That being said, I've been drawn to popular literature again.  I'm reading it mostly because so many young readers are allowing literature (and other forms of media) to have a say in their development.  Personally, I think that literature is a great source to allow for self discovery and to open the lines of discussion on new ideas.

As parents, we have a great responsibility to guiding our kids in their development, but at some point they will search out other mediums to guide them - why not literature?  So if we can read similar books that they might be interested in, we have the chance to have great discussions on life and humanity and faith that we might lose otherwise.

Red Queen was released just a few months ago (February 2015) and it was met with a great amount of praise. It is a wonderfully weaved story that brings up the issues of power, loyalty, status and courage.

Red Queen

Story Overview

No surprise that this book is getting a ton of hype, as the story concept echoes many popular fiction pieces from recent literature and back (Think Red Rising... The Hunger Games... Game of Thrones... the like...). Mare Barrow, the heroine, is a Red, and as a red, she is in the lower class. The upper class, Silvers, are likened to gods, as they have special capabilities, powers.  As a result the reds are subjects in this fantasy world.  The reds of course are treated poorly and there are many hints throughout the story about an organized uprising against the Silvers by the reds... maybe even reds that somehow have powers too...  

Anyway, through some twists Mare ends up publicly displaying her own magic ability in the middle of a kingdom wide event that is searching for suitable mates for the royal family's two sons.  This twist is of course not acceptable to the Silvers as a Red simply cannot be equal to the Silvers.  

The story then follows Mare as she is forced to become a Silver, the royal family fabricates a story about her heritage. She has to let go of her past and her family as she tries to fit into a role that is not for her.  

A love story is at heart of Red Queen - Cal (the Prince) is drawn to Mare, as he simply cares for people and is clearly attracted to her.  Then Maven, the younger prince, becomes Mare's mate (all part of her cover story). So through her own insecurities and attempts to obey the commands of the queen, Mare allows herself to trust Maven.

Of course there are some great plot twists that allow for this book to be the perfect opening to a trilogy that is coming. 

Personal Likes

I loved the pace of this story.  Once you, as a reader, are able to accept this fantasy world and society structure, you can get whipped into a trilling story as Mare tries to figure out who she can trust, including herself. Mare is a great character, in that she has the qualities most teenage girls often feel... dealing with surprising self discoveries over her body and her feelings toward boys. Plus she desperately wants a place to belong and find her place in. 

I also appreciated Cal's character. Here is a young man who was raised to be loyal to his family, and the family role as the royal family. He sees his kingdom full of people who need to be protected and cared for.  He desperately wants to make his father proud, while dealing with a step-mother and step-brother. He cares deeply and feels deeply.  You can clearly see how his kind heart shapes his actions and thoughts. 

Personal Dislikes

Personally I wish there had been more back story on world the story takes place in.  There seem to be some ill-thought through concepts that tie back to the world and the powers of the Silvers. Of course I understand the need for suspended belief in a fantasy story.  However, I just wanted more clarity in how the Silvers got to be so powerful, magical even.  

Also, there are some complaints over the authors technique in writing, specifically her descriptions - they are full of flourish.  I can see where people get this from... And while this is different than many popular stories right now, there is something refreshing in an author who isn't afraid to use more words to clarify the tableau she is establishing. If only she could have spent some of her words on the history.... 

Reasons to Read

This book is a great tool for opening conversations with your teenagers on finding out who you are, and then being loyal to your personal standards and morals.  The story of the royals allows for points to be discussed on leading others, and how our actions will effect others, while simultaneously showing how we must be prepared for the actions of others to possibly disappoint us. 

Another great point in Red Queen is the points made towards humanism, and how people have value. What a great way to use popular fiction with your kids to point straight to scripture.  Use this story to lead you and your kids to Ecclesiastes.  Allow your discussion to look at the similarities of this story to the idea that humans are really no better off than beasts, and how as a result social class form, and in those classes people are made low and unworthy of certain respect. Make the point of how God sees us, and what we are called to do when we are given the opportunity to act superior... 

Reading List Rating

I'm going to give this book five hearts because I really enjoyed it.  I do feel that this book was well written, especially considering it is Victoria Aveyard's first book.  And I can see how many can get drawn into this captivating story.

My Suggested Audience

I'd suggest this book for kids 12 and older.  There is violence and death, so be prepared, however the concepts are popular and allow for great openings in discussions that young teenagers should be pondering as they prepare to stand more independently. While I think girls would be more drawn to this story, there is certainly enough action and fighting to keep boys in on this story. 

Of course adults can get into this book also - it is full of fantasy, science fiction, and action.  

Have you taken the opportunity to use popular fiction to open up discussions with your teenagers about scripture?  Do your kids even want to talk to you about the books they pick up?

I'd love to hear from you, please leave me a little note!

Marissa @ Reading List

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