The world is divided along lines of color: Silver and Red. Those with silver blood (literally) have supernatural powers and are the ruling class. Those with red blood are ordinary, and thus essentially slave labor. Of course, divisions like this lead to dissension and rebellion, and a “terrorist” group of Reds are attacking Silvers. Mare, the Red narrator, gets caught in the middle of this. She is an impossibility, a Red with a developing supernatural power, and both sides want to use her as a spokesperson for their cause.
While I was in San Antonio a few weeks ago, I had two different people randomly recommend this series to me. I’d seen these books around but honestly had no desire to read them. I’ve read a lot of books in this same kind of genre before. After two recommendations in a week or so, though, I decided to put the book on my investigate list. When I brought Red Queen home from the library, I thought I’d be bringing it right back after a preview. Even in the first couple pages, I thought I’d be bringing it back. Something changed partway through the first chapter, though, and I was drawn in. The book turned out to be well-written and far more nuanced than I’m used to seeing in YA fantasy. (And as a sidenote, I was reminded of several Sanderson novels through the course of this book. Heh.)
What I found most interesting in Red Queen was the politics. There is a huge philosophical divide in the real world between revolutions driven by violence and those driven by peaceful protest. Both have failed in our history and both have been successful. Circumstances seem to dictate to what extent change can be made through different kinds of actions. A year ago, I watched Suffragette, which also discusses these same things – how much can we change by peace, and how much violence is needed? Similarly, The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon discusses these same things with regards to the Black Panthers during the Civil Rights movement. While Red Queen is set either in an alternate world altogether or a future (and unrecognizable) version of our world, these political themes are extremely relevant to today’s world.
Less interesting to me was the inevitable plot twists. One in particular ran along a track so well-worn in current fiction that it was visible almost from the beginning of the book. I would have been far more surprised (and pleased) had it never occurred at all.
Despite this one drawback, though, I was very pleased with the book and looking forward to the next in the series. I do think I’ll take a break between readings, however. These are the kinds of books that can drag you in so much that you end up staying up way too late and neglecting the rest of what you need to do. I need a breather before I dive back into this world!