RED QUEEN

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

BOOK REVIEW: RED QUEEN / AUTHOR: VICTORIA AVEYARD / PUBLISHER: ORION BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 12TH

Red Queen is the story of Mare Barrows; a 17-year-old girl who lives in a futuristic dystopia in which the super-human ‘Silvers’ rule with a fist of iron. Mare is a Red, a normal human, who is about to be conscripted into a pointless war. Instead of going to the front, however, Mare discovers that she has the power over electricity, and this changes everything; not only her fate, but possibly the fate of the world. Oh, and there are very pretty men in it as well, all of whom fall instantly in love with her. If this sounds a little bit familiar, it’s probably because it is.

For a book about a girl with lightning powers, this novel lacks any real spark. The various story elements feel borrowed and what we have here is a bland remix of similar works. Red Queen is a clever blend of The Hunger Games, The Selection, Graceling and Divergent. Sadly, this heady mix of ideas and potential means that certain elements overpower the rest of the story. Red Queen focuses too heavily on the mandatory love triangle common in novels pitched at young adults, and this detracts substantially from the narrative.

Regular readers of Young Adult books will recognise common elements, such as a futuristic dystopia under oppressive regimes, outsider disguised as the elite and, of course, the main protagonist is a special girl with a unique power. This mix, rather than producing a unique and interesting narrative, results in a homogeneous blob.

The film rights for Red Queen were acquired before this debut novel had actually been completed, and it’s easy to see why; the story is a mix of previously successful works and there is no reason why this won’t make a great movie. Had this book been written ten years ago it would be a startlingly original work. Instead it feels like a deliberately manufactured page-turner, designed to sell and appeal to a very specific market.

Red Queen is not a bad book; far from it. The writing is strong if a little slow, and the characters are likeable enough. The pacing slows down too much in the middle, which is not uncommon in debut novels, and overall it’s pleasant enough. It’s simply unremarkable, but if you have a hunger for more generic Young Adult books, then this will satisfy for now, but rather like it’s main characters, it’s not as special as it thinks it is.
 

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