Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review: Bland Mash-up of Books

February 19, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review: Bland Mash-up of BooksRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy #1
Published by Hachette Australia, Orion on February 12, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository
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A thrilling new fantasy trilogy for fans of DIVERGENT and THE HUNGER GAMES.

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

I have one problem with Red Queen: it was SO boring! I was literally sitting here, waiting for something to actually happen other than Mare’s romantic escapades with the Princes. But it was just disappointment for me.

The concept of the book was interesting, with people who bleed red or silver blood. Because of evolution, those who bleed silver can command superpowers. Mare is a red born and bred, but when she discovers her lightning powers in the royal court, she gets betrothed to the Prince so they can keep her under close watch. Which begs the question: Why didn’t they just kill Mare? While reading the book, it seemed like this would have been the most convenient solution, instead of training her to become more powerful and opening themselves to a threat. Especially after I learnt they were killing off others in the background.

I used to think there was only the divide, Silver and Red, rich and poor, kings and slaves. But there’s much more in between, things I don’t understand, and I’m right in the middle of it. 

This was only one of my unanswered questions, which began to pile up while reading the book. How did the silvers get their powers? How did the world come to be? If Mare was suspicious, why is she being kept there? Why is Mare trusting Maven? How was the Scarlet Guard formed? There were so many plot holes, sacrificing world building and explanations in exchange for Mare’s developing feelings for the two princes.

Silvers being the elite class and all of them being evil and corrupt, and Reds being honest, hardworking people was such an overused trope in fantasy novels. There was a lot of commentary about the classes and the injustice of it all, but I wanted to lot more basis for the revolution other than the Silvers oppressing the reds. After all, the world in a dystopian novel is the reason why we’re attracted to reading it in the first place, and if it’s not developed properly then I can’t enjoy the story.

You may have guessed that most of the plot focuses on the romance. I felt no chemistry between her and the young prince Maven, even as they developed a trusting friendship. Cal, the crown prince was a much more interesting character, who would go behind the back of his fiancee to kiss Mare. I just didn’t like any of the love interests because they just felt so dull and boring.

I can’t believe I didn’t see him for what he was from the beginning: a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And now I’m the sheep pretending to be the wolf. 

Mare was also a typical dystopian heroine which the entire red society is pinning on for hope of revolution. She learns her powers quickly through training, is so beautiful and attractive that no less than three guys like her (the third being a Gale like friend at home) and is the key to a revolution. Mare and the rest of the other characters just felt so bland that I couldn’t really get into the book.

Superpowers are always good, and Mare’s lightning powers and the brothers’ fire was fascinating. I liked the blend of powers, fantasy and dystopian genres, although I wish they were developed a little more. I also really enjoyed the twist at the end and the last part of the book presented for the action that I’d been waiting for alll book. These last few chapters may have saved the book for me, but it was too little too late.

One day he’ll realize I’m his enemy, and all this will be a far-gone memory. But not yet. 


Red Queen borrowed heavily from other popular dystopian reads, like Hunger Games (revolution and figurehead), Red Rising (colour coded class based system) and Divergent (Mare’s blend of powers). Most of the book was dry and boring and I couldn’t connect to the romance, characters or the world, especially due to the underdeveloped world. You might like it if you’re looking for more of the same, but after reading the fantastic Golden Son, this was just so bland in comparison.

This wasn’t a bad read, I was just disappointed because my expectations were sky high.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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72 responses to “Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review: Bland Mash-up of Books

  1. teamingwithbooks

    Great review! Would you mind checking out my blog?

  2. /criesssssssss But I totally get you Jeann! AND I don't know if this is just a coincidence BUT so many people that I know who've read and loved Red Rising and Golden Son have given Red Queen the thumbs down! I loved RQ but haven't read RR yet BUT perhaps I'll have to give that series a go!

  3. Charnell

    I am so torn about this book. Part of me still really wants to read it, whilst another is kind of thinking I should avoid it. I have seen far too many reviews saying it was dull, the romance lacked chemistry and that it read like so many other YA books. I'm super nervous to get to it, but kind of hope my low expectations will mean it won't disappoint me too much.

    • I know, I\’ve read both positive and negative reviews, it really seems to be something that you go into with lower expectations than all the hype I guess.

  4. lorellepage

    I have ordered this from the library as it was the first book I've seen for a long time that has been released with such hype. And her first book, too! I think I would be asking the same questions as you: I'd be curious about the world and how it came to be. I get so cofused. Writers are told not to stick to tropes and cliches – don't write to trends – but this is where the hysteria is created. *shrug*. I guess if you didn't find it boring, you may have been more forgiving of those elements and the plot holes? That's usually how I work 🙂
    My recent post Rebuilding myself as a writer: I’ve been thinking. And yes, it hurt a lot.

    • Yeah, if the writing is compelling enough the plot holes wouldn't have bothered me TOO much I guess. I hope you enjoy it more than I did, Lorelle!

  5. NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I can completely understand why you really didn't click with it though. For me, it was all my favourite parts of fantasy and dystopian rolled into one and it worked, but can understand the feeling you had of having read it all before. Red Rising wasn't my thing, but this one certainly was. Lovely review Jeann and sorry you couldn't have enjoyed it more <3 But the big question is, can you see yourself reading book two to see if it redeems itself?
    My recent post A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

    • Yes, I can totally see why you loved it Kelly, especially since Red Rising wasn't up your alley! I don't know, it really depends when Book 2 comes out. I didn't enjoy Gameboard of the Gods so I never read Immortal Crown, even though I've heard good things.

  6. Gah another disappointed reader! I've been looking forward to this one for so long but it seems everyone is being left wanting more. I'll still be reading it, but it might be put on the back burner for a while. Thanks for the honest review 🙂
    My recent post Book Review: Cinders and Sapphires

  7. readerswonderland

    "This wasn’t a bad read, I was just disappointed because my expectations were sky high." This. I felt pretty much the same as you did about Red Queen, it was just average. YES about the romance, ugh. Dull and boring indeed. It's worse because the romance obviously is going to play a role in the next book too, just hopefully not as large of one. Great review!
    My recent post How to Start a Book Blog in 5 Easy Steps

  8. karawrites15

    Gah, such a shame! I hope your next read will be more enjoyable. I guess that's the thing with expectations, right? It's often really really hard for the novel to live up to them. You're not the first person I've seen to say that this is boring–so at the moment, even though I do want to read it, I'm more likely to borrow this from the library.
    My recent post Friday Photography (10) A Collection of Peculiar Flowers

    • Thanks Kara, it definitely is expectations when it comes to over hyped books. I wonder if I would have enjoyed this more if I just stumbled across it? Oh wells.

  9. Awh I'm sorry that this one didn't work out for you, Jeann! I personally loved this but I can see why people aren't. Also, I probably liked this more because I didn't finish Red Rising and lots of fellow peeps seem to say that both are extremely similar in regards to plot lines but I cannot really see it as I didn't finish RR.

    Lovely review, Jeann <33

    • Glad to hear you loved it Melanie, I definitely feel like a black sheep here but it looks like the reviews are actually love or hate atm. Thanks hun!

    • Ah, fair enough Michelle! I would say give it a go yourself, because it seems like the reviews are pretty divided on this one.

  10. Totally get what you mean Jeann, I went into the book with sky high expectations as well and soon realised that it was just a recycled story. Fortunately, I went into the second half with much lowered expectations and ended up enjoying it a lot, mainly for the out of left field twist at the end. I agree the princes were a bit bland though, with no special qualities aside from being princes. What I liked about the book was the way she took all the cliches and improved on all the issues I've had with some previous books. But there's still a lot of issues with Red Queen as well. Definitely need to go into the book with lowered expectations!

    • Yes, now I know what you meant Joy! I'm glad you were able to adjust your expectations at the end, but I was so frustrated when I reached that point and nothing much had happened.

  11. Bec

    Yeah, this book had some issues. The start was interesting, then it fell flat for a while, then I got pissed of with Mare for a whole heap of reasons. I think I was a little more invested in it than you were though, because the end did save it for me (even if it was what I'd been suspecting. It could have been a very different ending that would have made me throw it).

    There wasn't a lot of info on the world, was there? Which is a damn shame because the powers and the world were 90% of why I was reading the book (and even then, they weren't great. I was figuring out ways for fire users to beat the nymphs/water bendings while in the books they were all "help me I'm drowning water can't trump fire".) I really didn't see the chemistry that was in the romance.
    My recent post Review: Manga Classics РLes Mis̩rables

    • Yeah, it was really flat for most of it until the end, although I did enjoy that big action scene and the twist. Yeah, the world was kind of "it's there, and this is it" sort of thing instead of really delving into it.

  12. I've only heard positive things so far about this one Jeann! NOW YOU'VE GOT ME RECONSIDERING ALL MY LIFE CHOICES! LOL. I was planning on getting this one this weekend and to be quite honest, i'm still interested in this one enough to want to read it but i'm definitely going into it with a new perspective. Great review 🙂
    My recent post The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2):Review

    • LOL pleased to provide you with a different perspective! I guess that's what happens when a book is hyped up too much, our expectations are hard to match!

  13. I've heard so many mixed things about this book! It's quite annoying that it borrowed from so many good books because at first glance it seems quite original! Or even if it did borrow, it still had the potential to be great because it takes wonderful elements from those books;)
    It does seem logical for a ruthless ruling system to kill Mare since they can't trust her with her powers in the end!
    And oh no! A love triangle:'( The romance doesn't sound very sweet or moving which is a shame:(
    Great review!:)
    My recent post 2 Mini Reviews: These Broken Stars &amp; Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

    • I know, it's just a shame because books that aren't too original just don't hook me in you know? I just didn't understand why they didn't kill Mare! Thanks Maya.

  14. Allison

    I'm sorry to hear this one was so disappointing! It seems like everyone is reading it, but the reviews have been so mixed. Thanks for an honest review!

    • Thanks Braine, yeah the world building definitely was a bit flimsy. I wish there was more, but as I said last week, it is one of my negative book triggers lol

    • I can definitely understand why a lot of people loved it, but it's interesting to see our differences in opinion! Thank you 😀

  15. kezia1098

    I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy the book. I'm not sure whether to pick this up or not.. I mean I'm not in the mood for dystopia and I don't like dull, typical heroines. Especially the ones that spend the entire book being confused about her feelings toward guys around her despite being in a tough society. Sad to hear that there wasn't enough worldbuilding and plot development 🙁
    My recent post Baaaaaa~ Welcoming the Year of the Goat

    • Yeah, I guess if there was a redeeming factor, it would be that the powers were really cool and there was a great twist at the end.

    • Yeah, I can't help but feel it's a product of hype a little. It's not the shortest book, around 460 pages I think but it was okay.

  16. Faye M.

    Man, you saying it like that makes me realize there are way more cliches here than I realized, eep! I gave this one three stars – not bad, but not great, but I did enjoy the writing and I see the potential! But you're right, it's somehow Hunger Games-ish (one girl being the key to the revolution) and the three guys thing did somehow threw me off… it's really good then that later one guy gets crossed from that list 😛 I did feel that his "180 degree character change" was a tad bit too much :/ He suddenly became evil because he could, which isn't really that great of a character development.
    My recent post ARC Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

    • Yeah, I was thinking of whether to rate it 2.5 which is average or 3 stars which meant I liked it, but I guess I settled on 2.5 because I had a lot of issues with it. There were so many cliches definitely, especially with what happened with the guy at the end :S

    • Thank you, I'm glad to share my thoughts on it. I guess if you're keen you can check it out, but yeah, I felt it was over hyped.

    • I know, it was very similar to Red Rising but super, super bland in comparison. I can see it wasn't just me that felt that way!

  17. haha I actually really liked this book! I definitely agree that it was pretty similar to a lot of other dystopians out there, but I was okay with that because I thought the execution was pretty good in terms of the political intrigue and things. AND DAT TWIST. Really didn't expect it D:
    My recent post Review: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

    • I know, a lot of people did and I can see why, but yeah there just wasn't enough originality for me. I kind of expected the twist though!

  18. Even though I came across a lot of positive reviews for Red Queen,a lot of them also stated that it was ripped off from several YA books.And this made me hesitate to go for this book even after all those hype it carried around.
    Thanks for the honest review Jeann!
    My recent post What type of a reader are you?

    • AWww don't regret it Allie, a lot of other bloggers enjoyed and loved the book! I think you'll be fine, especially if you haven't read those books (AND WHY NOT?)

  19. Ebony

    I feel as though we read a completely different book, Jeann! Though I do understand where you're coming from re: unanswered questions. Hopefully these are answered in book #2. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one, Jeann, but I loved reading your review. 🙂

    • I know, I know! I have read way too many dystopians that had similar concepts lol. I do think Book 2 has the potential to be better though, especially since it's already set the foundation in this book.

  20. Your rating is actually pretty accurate about this book – I rounded .5 up for it to make it three stars lol. NAILED it with your review though, It sounded like so many previous novels I've read before. I did like the fantasy aspect of this novel, disappointed in the book overall though since it was pretty hyped. Great review!
    My recent post I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios Review ♥

  21. Bec Graham

    I seriously picked this book up at Dymocks just a few days ago, but put it back on the shelf given my current lack of funds. Definitely glad I did now! The book had such a wonderful premise! I'm so disappointed that the story didn't deliver. How annoying!
    My recent post Beautiful People: February Edition

  22. Bec Graham

    I seriously picked this book up at Dymocks just a few days ago, but put it back on the shelf given my current lack of funds. Definitely glad I did now! The book had such a wonderful premise! I'm so disappointed that the story didn't deliver. How annoying!