Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2015)

I struggle to my feet, one hand on my aching head as things come into focus. A figure stares at me from beyond the bars. A crown glitters on her head (p 77).

RedQueenA country in perpetual war with its neighbors uses the lower class Reds (signifying their red blood) as military pawns and laborers, while the gifted Silvers (for their silver blood) enjoy greater luxuries as they grasp for ever greater power and dominance.

Mare is born a red, raised a red, and thieves for a living as a result. She knows she will be conscripted, as her three brothers were, to fight in the army when she turns eighteen but her best friend, Kilorn, will escape that fate because he is apprenticed.

When Kilorn’s master dies suddenly, leaving him jobless, it is Mare who vows to save him from the army and certain death. Her attempts land her in the palace, serving the Silvers. In a bizarre accident, she displays a unique Silver gift for lightning. Her unique status is quickly conceiled by the royal family and she is quickly drawn into the Silver world where she becomes everyone else’s pawn.

As Mare struggles to understand her new position in the world and her powers, she stumbles, showing little ingenuity or comprehension, less stratagem and a penchant for falling (ridiculously) in love within a Hunger Games-like political arena. Her eventual escape will leave readers incredulous but assures a sequel (or two).

With all the trappings of today’s YA fantasy genre, this one fails to distinguish itself.

Purchased copy | 978-0062362711 | 383 pages | Ages 14+

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