Every time a YA heroine in a fantasy/post apocalyptic/sci fi book says ‘I’m not like other girls, I’m different!’, flowers die and puppies cry.
Please, for the sake of the puppies. End this trope.
To be completely honest, I’ve seen this book EVERYWHERE. E V E R Y W H E R E. And I’ve never read it. I have a tendency to read hyped up books well after they come out (like I didn’t read the Hunger Games until like 4 years later.)
Red Queen is a lot like the other YA fantasy books that have been popular for the past 5-6 years or so. Poor downtrodden girl who Is Not Like Other Girls meets the prince/is chosen by the prince to be his bride and is saved from her life of poverty. She is instantly hated by all the other girls, develops strange powers that she instantly knows how to harness, and can fit into the court almost at once after just a few lessons. Both princes fall all over her, even though Mummy dearest isn’t fond of her at all.
And then! Because she can’t just live semi-normally and accept the good fortune she’s given, she joins a rebellion! Within days of entering the palace! Because plot deems this a good idea!
Side question: how much time passes between when Cal meets Mare and the end of the book? A couple weeks? A month? A year? I couldn’t figure that out. There was no clear passage of time.
But I digress. She sloppily handles being part of the rebellion, gets people killed because her fiancé said so, all while justifying it to herself because ‘they might be able to hurt us in the future’.
AND THEN, oh this was the best part. Mare thinks she can manipulate Cal into taking power from his father and becoming king . (Or something.) Because she thinks it would actually work. Oh poor delusional child. The world does not, in fact, revolve around you and your over-inflated sense of importance. You’ve had power for like two weeks and suddenly you think you can change everything, because again, plot deems it best!!
Welcome to YA Heroine Syndrom, Mare, you exhibit all the classic symptoms.
Forgive me if I’m not impressed with the Cal/Mare/Maven love thing going on. It seemed too forced, like all these love triangles-shapes-whatever. I felt like I didn’t know the characters well enough to see it as believable.
I just don’t see how Cal could be HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH MARE by just saving her once then sort of ignoring her?? And then Maven and Mare are planning on using Cal’s love for Mare as a way to manipulate him? I’m sorry, did I miss something in the past several chapters?
BUT COLOR ME WAY SURPRISED AT THE END OF THE BOOK. HOLY MO. (view spoiler)
I feel like this could’ve been a really good book, if the author had taken time to really do some more world building and build her characters more. Why did the Panther feel so intrigued by Mare? Why did the other girls hate her so much? What happened in Queenstrial? That, I feel, could’ve been really good.
We get the barest bones of backstory on this whole 100 Years War. Which is another trope that needs to die, like how can one economy sustain a war for so long?? If you’re conscripting all young men and women and so many of them are dying, how do you have enough to sustain your population if all the people of childbearing age are dying left and right? That’s not a way to keep your fighting force up.
~Maven, I feel, was the only one who had any sort of actual, genuine motivation to do the things he did. It was well-played in parts and a little too clunkely dramatic in others.
~Mare…had some ok motivation. Though she did whine a lot.
~And I just couldn’t figure Cal out at all. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s bad, all while being annoyingly perfect and pretty and pretentiously disheveled, I assume.
Some other characters deserved more time in the spotlight. Like Mare’s family, Gisa, Shade, Julian, even Evangeline.
ALSO STOP MAKING GIRLS HATE GIRLS ON SIGHT, FEMALE AUTHORS. YOU AREN’T DOING YOURSELVES ANY FAVORS BY CONTINUING TO PERPETUATE THIS HORRIBLE CLICHE.
All in all, I’m giving Red Queen 3 stars because it had the potential to be really good, but fell victim to a lot of the dumb tropes of the genre.