“Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.”
Thoughts: Mare Barrow is going to get more than one passing comparison to Katniss Everdeen. Like Katniss, she does what she has to do to provide for her family, even if it means flagrantly breaking the law. Her family and her only friend, who just happens to be a boy, are her life. She is more agile and perceptive than almost everyone else due to her years earning her keep as a pickpocket; the fact that she has never been caught is a further testament to her abilities. Even her superhuman ability will remind one of Katniss. As so many other post-apocalyptic heroines have been before her, there is definitely more to Mare than meets the eye.
Similarly, the situation in which Mare finds herself is ideal for someone with her background and penchant for free-thinking. Her connections made on the black market grant her unique access to the emerging rebel faction, and her strong moral compass allows her to take the necessary risks to make life better for her family and for all of the Reds. The rest of the story unfolds much as one would expect with treachery and danger surrounding her at the palace and threatening her every move.
One of the best things about Red Queen is that even though the storyline is fairly predictable and extremely familiar to fans of the genre, readers will not care about that. The story itself is exciting and suspenseful. Mare is a great character – not afraid to speak her mind, eager to use her new position for her own improvements and to exploit the advantages her position gives her on behalf of the greater good. She is intelligent, able to hold her own alongside other Silvers in their world of political maneuvering and power plays. There is also a lovely innocence to her that is heartening to behold for it keeps her hopeful for better times that may or may not ever occur. Even better, the love triangle exists but takes a backseat to the rest of the action, and by the end of the story, it is essentially nonexistent. Mare can and does stand on her own without needing or wanting a man to help her. Feminists everywhere can cheer at this break from YA tradition.
As with any book in which the subject is the haves versus the have-nots, there is plenty of fodder for discussion. Discrimination is rampant, but, interestingly enough, the causes are not superficial but elemental. One cannot look at someone else and automatically assume that one is a Silver or a Red. The implications of this – how the Silvers subjugated the Reds, how they came to be in the first place, and so forth – are huge and hopefully discussed in further detail in the future books. Other interesting storylines with moral ambiguity include the power struggles of the Silvers and the very betrayals that put Mare into harm’s way.
Red Queen might sound very familiar to potential readers, but one should not shy away from reading it. The action is intense, and the superpowers are a fun albeit dangerous addition to the story and help make the stakes even higher. Mare is an intriguing heroine, anxious to right wrongs and forge a better life for her family. Her powers, how she obtained them and what it means for the Reds and the Silvers, set the stage for future adventures. This is the first in a series, but it ends without a massive cliffhanger. Rather, it draws on a reader’s emotional connection to Mare to fuel the desire to want to read the next story – something readers most definitely will want to do.