Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Reviewed by: Rabid ReadsThis book didn't start out terribly.

I mean, come on . . . royals with superpowers? And a heroine from amongst the downtrodden servant class? Okay, yes, thatdoessound kind of familiar, especially considering that said downtrodden heroine is aRed , but beyond that I didn't feel like there were many similarities. And as much as I love Red Rising and Golden Son , I would jump all over it if I thought this book was a copycat.

BUT. Sold as I was (at first), the heavy-hand

Reviewed by: Rabid ReadsThis book didn't start out terribly.

I mean, come on . . . royals with superpowers? And a heroine from amongst the downtrodden servant class? Okay, yes, thatdoessound kind of familiar, especially considering that said downtrodden heroine is aRed , but beyond that I didn't feel like there were many similarities. And as much as I love Red Rising and Golden Son , I would jump all over it if I thought this book was a copycat.

BUT. Sold as I was (at first), the heavy-handed descriptions and comparisons, piled on top of unnecessary flourishes, piled on top ofstill morecomparisons . . . *sighs*

For example:
The only thing that serves to distinguish [Reds], outwardly at least, is that Silvers stand tall. Our backs are bent by work and unanswered hope and the inevitable disappointment with our lot in life.
"Backs bent by work" was sufficient to get the point across. "Unanswered hope" lent poignancy. BUT "the inevitable disappointment" blah, blah, turned a statement that could have been a powerful illustration into OVERKILL. Was this an isolated incident? *snorts* Hey, lady! This concept:

It's a good one. Fyi.And that wasn't the only problem: 1. I hadn't given much thought to why I typically crave bloodthirstiness from my heroines. Previously, when it was an issue, it was in regards to only two types of characters: those who stepped up, and those who didn't.Turns out there's a third type. She who makes the hard decision:
"Are you with us, Mare Barrow?" he says, his hand closing over mine. More war, more death, Cal said. But there's a chance he's wrong. There's a chance we change it.My fingers tighten, holding on to Will. I can feel the weight of my action, the importance behind it."I'm with you.""We will rise," he breathes, in unison with Tristan. I remember the words and speak with them. "Red as the dawn."

In the flickering candlelight, our shadows look like monsters on the walls.

Dithers over that decision:
"Children." The words rip out of me. "He's a father."
(Damn right, he is. And a husband, and a son, and a grandson, and maybe an uncle and a nephew, too. THEY ALL ARE, you daft cow.)Then sticks her head in the sand like a fraking ostrich after the decision is carried out:
All together, twelve died last night, but I refuse to learn their names. I can't have them weighing on me . . .
I've said before that if you're going to be an assassin, you need to own it. I'm adapting that statement: if you're going to kill someone for the "greater good," you need to be decisive about it. And if you're having legitimately conflicted thoughts, then maybe you shouldn't be killing anyone. But regardless, YOU TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS. You don't go all Scarlett O'Hara and say, "I'll think about that tomorrow." *flutters hands delicately*You know why? B/c Scarlett O'Hara would make a damn terrible assassin, that's why.And Mare Barrow makes an equally terrible freedom fighter. She's this BAFFLING combination of ruthlessness, pragmatism, compassion, self-entitlement, and poor self-esteem that causes her to constantly second guess herself.Beyond that . . . I'm not sure how down I am with the cause. It's one thing to kill in the heat of battle or to premeditatedly take out a Bad Guy, but to play God, picking and choosing who will die b/c their death will create more chaos than that-person-over-there . . .?*frowns and squints*

The whole scenario sat poorly with me. Butmyreasons for being uncomfortable were totally different than Mare's, so instead of bonding with her, I wanted to rough her up a bit.

Sometimes MCs make mistakes. They're supposed to learn from those mistakes--that's what humanizes them, that's what spurs character growth--but Mare never takes a hard look at herself. She stays almost completely two-dimensional, and I say almost, b/c she's too selfish to be truly flat.

2. Then there's (if you haven't started noticing it already) the melodrama:
My hands wipe at my eyes, though my tears are long lost in the rain, leaving behind only an embarrassingly runny nose and some black makeup. Thankfully, my silver powder holds. It's made of stronger stuff than I am.
Crying . . . in the rain. Then comparing herself . . . to MAKEUP . . . and coming up short . . . Really?But this one's my favorite:
"I wish things were different," he whispers, but I can still hear him.
The words take me back to my home and my father when he said the same thing so long ago . . .
So long ago?

. . . To think that Cal and my father, a broken Red man, can share the same thoughts makes me pause.

Hmm . . . you like tacos, too?

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That's CRAZY. Me, I friggin' love tacos. Itisa small world.3. I don't hate all love triangles . . . When they don't get ridiculous, sometimes I even like the tension they create. BUT.There is something inherently sordid about messing around with brothers. It's tacky. Don't do it. *flares nostrils* And I'm going to have to stop, b/c I'm nearing my (self-imposed) word limit. But know that as well as being melodramatic and a coward, Mare Barrow is also self-centered, irrational, AND inconsistent. If you really want to hear me rant some more, I'll spoiler tag it in my Goodreads review. Beyond that, the book was 100% predictable, and the methods employed to overthrow the corrupt government were every bit as reprehensible as the government itself. Not recommended.

SPOILERY rant time! Starting where I left off: (view spoiler) [

Self-centered:

The biggest gripe the Reds have with the Silvers is that when they turn eighteen, if they don't have a job (and jobs are few and far between) they are conscripted into the army. The Silvers have been at war for over 100 years, and the Reds have always been their cannon fodder. Fairly early in the book, Mare finds out that her favorite brother (of three) was executed as a deserter of this army. She is understandably wrecked.BUT. When the brother of her biggest rival is one of the Silvers marked for assassination, Mare observes the two clearly close siblings, and thinks:
"If all goes to plan, he'll never hug his sister again.
Evangeline will have lost a brother, just like me. Even though I know that pain firsthand, I can't bring myself to feel sorry for her. Especially not with the way she holds on to Cal."
B/c JEALOUS.But that's nothing compared to when she wakes up in a prison cell with Cal after they've been wrongfully arrested for the murder of the king. When it all goes to hell (as YA books are wont to do in that last 10-15%):1. Cal learns that his evil stepmother the queen used her mind control power to make his mother kill herself.2. His evil stepmother the queen uses her mind power to make Cal unsheathe his father's sword and use it to behead him. His father. Cal beheads him. Himself. WITH HIS OWN SWORD.3. His brother (Maven) stands there and watches.And Mare's first thought?
Maven has betrayed me. No, he was never on my side at all.
*flares nostrils again*Now would be a good time to bring up how all that heavy-handedness that drove me nuts also made the book incredibly predictable (b/c DUH, of course Evil Stepmother killed the Queen). The second Maven showed up to meet the Red Guard along with Mare, I not only doubted his sincerity, but I also predicted that the whole thing had been orchestrated by his mother in a plot to get him on the throne in place of Cal. The only things I didn't get with pinpoint accuracy were that Shade (Mare's brother) was the lone survivor from the 27 suspicious cremations--I thought all of them were together somewhere, either being experimented on by Silvers or that they were already with the Red Guard--and I thought Kilorn was also an Extra based on Mare's comments about his super-sneakiness. Actually, I still think Kilorn's going to be an Extra. Anyway, it was obvious that Mare wasn't the only Red who had developed abilities, b/c of all the references to her father's "bloodhound"-like sense of smell. Moving on.

Irrational:

My teeth grind together, chewing on the words before I can spit them out. "Did Cal tell you what happened?""He did," Julian replies evenly. "And he's right. Don't fault him for it."

"I can fault him for whatever I want," I snort, remembering the war books and death guides all over his room. "He's just like all the others."

"What happened" was that Mare lost control of her power when she learned that Shade was dead. So Mare is throwing a temper tantrum b/c Cal prudently had her training schedule changed to include practicing control of her gift b/c he was concerned she might hurt herself or someone else. Those "war books" and "death guides"? HE'S THE CROWN PRINCE. His country has been at war for 100 YEARS. Of course he studies battles and tactics, you ridiculous harpy.And when Cal is furious about not being able to fight his own battles:
"I'm a soldier," Cal spits, shrugging away from his brother's touch. "I can't just sit by and let others fight for me. I won't do it."
He sounds like a child whining for a toy--he must enjoy killing. It makes me sick. I don't speak, letting the diplomatic Maven talk for me. He always knows what to say.
Do you see why it was so easy to predict the outcome of this little shindig?

Inconsistent:

"He thinks speeches are a waste of time. Cal likes action, not words."
That makes two of us, but I don't want to admit I have anything in common with Maven's older brother. Maybe once I thought so, but not now. Not ever again.
Umm . . . ? Her entire thought process there is mind-boggling. Then several pages later:
And as much as I hate to admit it, I can't blame Cal for feeling caught between two worlds. After all, so am I.

*headdesk* (hide spoiler)]

I don't know, I DON'T KNOW.

...more


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