Thursday, 12 February 2015

Red Queen


Red Queen
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy!
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

The world is divided in to Red and Silver, if you're a Silver, then you're practically a God (X-Men or is man?), an elite warrior with incredible abilities ranging from control of fire, to controlling people and anything in between. If you're a Red, then you're a commoner, poverty stricken, and treated like dirt. You live under the rule of the Silver's and you're conscripted in to the Silver's war if you don't have a job by 18. A war that the Silver's started and don't actually fight in. It's only the Red's who spill blood for this war.

Mare Barrow is a 17 year old girl from the Stilts, and to her it looks like nothing will ever change. Her three older brothers are away fighting, and Mare looks set to follow in their footsteps with no job, her only skill being to relieve Silver's of their valuables while they remain unaware. She lives in the shadow of her sister Gisa, a seamstress with incredible skill, who carries the entire family on her shoulders. But when Mare's BFF Kilorn is set to be conscripted after an unfortunate twists of fate, Mare makes a rash decision to save the both of them, and when she comes up with a plan to get the money needed to save the both of them, her timing isn't too great.

You see, she picks the one day, to enact her plan, when a terrorist group of Red's known as the Scarlet Guard decide to blow a couple of Silver monuments up. In the chaos that follows Mare has to run, but not before her sister does something stupid. Something that ruins the future for the Barrow's.

In another twist of fate, Mare happens to steal from the wrong person, or the right one, depending on how you look at it. The next thing she knows, she's working at the Silver Palace, right in the middle of the people she hates, and fate is really getting around, because she soon discovers that she's not so different from the Silver's, her blood may be Red, but she has an ability of her own, one that's going to threaten the control of the Silvers.

They think they can use her to quell a rebellion, but she's harder to control than they suspect, and they made her part of their game.....the question is...who's going to win?

"We will rise, Red as the dawn"

OH MY GOD THIS BOOK THOUGH, THIS BOOK, I'M STILL NOT OVER IT AND I NEED THE NEXT BOOK NOW AND I'M TYPING IN CAPITALS AND I'M STILL FEELING ALL THE FEELS AND I CAN'T EVEN RIGHT NOW, JUST OH MY GOD.

Calming down now, I'm calm, it's all good, let's get to business and discuss one of my favourite books  EVER, yes, just like that it's one of my favourite books ever, and this series is going to be so much awesome, and I can already tell it's gonna be one of my "re-read it until the book is falling apart" series. So...fair warning, fangirling ahead, and copious amounts of gushing.

Red Queen draws you in from the beginning and grabs your interest with the narrative and the voice of the character, not to mention the world we see a glimpse of at the beginning not to mention the action. I could immediately tell it was incredibly original and different, and that the politics of the world, the history and well...the world itself was rich, and I wanted to know more immediately about this strange new world and what was going on.

The world of Red Queen is created from page one, it's built up with each new bit of information, and the writing is incredibly descriptive. The world is vivid and I disappeared in to the world from page one, and from that point was totally lost to the real world, I hated having to leave the world to go and do something else, or you know....when the book was over, every time I just wanted to sink back in to the world and get lost again. It was engrossing and oddly enchanting.

Information about the world and it's politics/rules and so on are established from the beginning and built upon, slotted in to the narrative at just the right moment and combined with the narrative so smoothly that is doesn't impact the pace or flow, it just fits there at the right moment, so you know what's going on and what the importance of the upcoming/already happened event is. You get maximum information about this rich world, with none of the pages and pages of information to paw through before you get back to the story. Just how I love it! 

In Red Queen we see a section of what is hinted to be a fairly expansive world, we see Mare's village, the summer palace, and then the capital, Archeon (which I want to see more of!) and a smidgen of the Bone Bowl, all of this is in Norta, which is a small piece of the world. I'd be intrigued to see the area of the battle, more of the town supposedly deadly because of radiation where the Red's are hanging out, and I'd be interested to see some of the other Kingdoms of the world of Red Queen, like the one they're fighting against in their war! I definitely think the opportunity to visit different areas is there, and I'm excited to see what other parts of the world we get to take a good look at in the other books! Especially as there's the whole "if we have a rebellion the other Kingdoms will crush us because they won't change" thing going on. Is that true? I don't know, but I want to find out!

The world is kind of hard to explain and probably about to make a mess of it right now, to me, it seems to be out of time. At points I thought it was a new fresh world, but then I'd start to wonder if it's the future of our world, and so it seemed quite out of time to me. At points the world seems to be quite old school, and by that I mean kind of olden days, medieval, perhaps, with the dresses and the armour and the fighting and some of the events, but then you see technology being used like cameras and so on which gives it a more futuristic/up to date feel to the world, added to the general awesomeness of the powers of the Silver's it creates a unique world that is enchanting.

The politics of the world is quite impressive, with the houses and how they feel towards the King and the royal family, and how a Queen is picked and how the Red's are treated, I love how the reader can insert themselves in the story, because you know......we are the Red's. So you connect to the Red's as a whole on that level, or at least I did! Now this might just be me, but I kind of felt like some of the politics of the world, and the "terrorists" in particular and the war, seemed to echo some of the news broadcasts you see today in the real world, if that makes sense.

"Anyone can betray anyone"

I loved all the different abilities and the different houses/families, talkies, strongarms, magnetrons etc while the abilities are mostly nothing new....they where used in a new way in this world, and had a different meaning, and there where a couple of different ones thrown in there, but from the different families with the different abilities and colour, you could really see how intricate the world is, and that's not including the history of the world or the politics. I also loved how the Silver's acted, how they reacted differently to situations than a Red would and you could see that so clearly through Mare and her sudden dual identity.

Speaking of Mare, I connected to her immediately, I absolutely loved her and she's the type of female lead I love, with all the sarcasm and everything. She's the type of character whose skin I can easily slide in to as I'm reading. I connected to her so easily for more reasons than I already said, it wasn't just the sarcasm and so on, but it was because of her whole story, and how she feels, and how she's been treated by her family and so on, I could empathise with her so easily and I could understand her and see where she's coming from.

“The truth is what I make it. I could set this world on fire and call it rain.” 
Some of the other characters, however, I couldn't work out, so I was pretty much in the same boat as Mare. I'm talking about Maven and Cal, my opinion of them kept changing as I kept reading, one minute I thought Cal was soooo great but then he'd do something or say something or fail to do something and I'd get the hump with him, but then he'd be so adorable again and I'd be like "he can't possibly be the bad guy in this world". It was exactly the same with Maven. With Maven I felt exactly like Mare did. I thought he was going to be exactly like his mother, totally evil, and I kept expecting him to turn round and be a dick, and have some secret plan going on to screw over Mare and the Scarlet Guard, but I actually ended up liking him and thinking "I really hope he doesn't become a dick", but then there was the mother of all plot twists, that I really didn't see coming even though I should have and was half expecting it, but Maven kept doing things to make me think he wasn't the enemy and so on. But yeah, plot twists and booooommm he went full douche.

The author has written the book so incredibly that it's hard to predict, or if you do predict something that happens, you convince yourself it won't happen because there's no evidence it will and then the thing you didn't think would happen, happens and you're totally shocked and surprised. The author has written Cal and Maven in the book so they're switched for most of the book, we think Cal is the enemy because he won't do what's right, even though he's totally sweet and totally likes Mare and she likes him but won't admit it, and we think Maven is the hero, when in reality it's actually the other way round and Cal's the good guy, but Maven/the author has manipulated your thoughts so subtly through the characters and so on, that you're wrong. It's so hard to explain but you'll see. Everything you think as you read is wrong, and you don't realise until right at the end.

“Many things led to this day, for all of us. A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they've written a tragedy.” 
But the thing was, as much as Maven and the King where dicks, I could also see where both of them where coming from. Cal is the last thing the King had to remember the woman he loved, and I'm not even going to touch Maven's issues, but I did feel for him more than once, and I could understand him and see where he's coming from, as much as I dislike him, to the extent I've half given him the benefit of the doubt and I'm like "maybe it'll come out that his mother is controlling him and making him do it" and yes I do know how stupidly unlikely that is, but I really did feel for the poor sod. 

I would really like to see more of Cal in the next book, he was in the book a fair bit, don't get me wrong, but I'd like to get to know him better, possibly as Mare does! They had a couple of scenes together, but we mostly saw her with Maven, so yes, I'd love to see more of Cal and Mare together, and get to know him a little bit better now Maven is out of the way. I'd also love to see and learn more about Kilorn, Julian, Shade and Farley, as I really liked what I saw of all of those characters, but we didn't get to know them all that well, and seeing as what happened at the end of the book...well...happened, I'd love to know them better this time round! Not to mention Mare's other brothers, they where hilarious and I loved them! Gisa...well....I feel a bit of resentment to her because of poor Mare, but we'll see!

As you can probably tell, the author creates all of her characters, including the secondary ones, very well, so well that you feel what they feel, and they come alive right in front of you. Each character has hidden depths to them, and have more going on than you would think, and each is, like I said, beautifully created, you can picture them clearly, and you want to get to know them better. They're another reason why it's so hard to leave the world! I'd LOVE to see more of Lucas, but nooooooooooo.

"In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don't know if I'll ever smile again.” 
Like I said, I never knew what was going to happen next, I had my own ideas of what was coming up next and was always wrong, and surprised, and even if  I had half guessed, I was STILL surprised. Red Queen has you on the edge of your seat with all the action, and the secrets and the general wanting to know what happens next! Any theory you have, the author will convince you that you're wrong, so you're even more surprised when you where, in actual fact, at least semi right. Red Queen is a roller coaster of action, and feels and so much happened, I LOVE it when loads happens in a book and you go on a real journey with the character not just in terms of plot, but in terms of the characters development.

This book was so hard to put down because there was never a good enough place to put it down, there was never a lull in the action, or the intrigue or the general OMG, and the world is so engrossing you just don't want to leave it. I was so gutted that I couldn't read it in one go like I wanted to, I had to be up super early for work every day, and so I had to keep stopping and starting, but it was so easy to disappear back in to the world each time, and get back in to the action and instantly remembering exactly what had been going on.

I'm going to tell you a tale of horror and strife now, you see, I had to stop reading this book with 50 pages left. 50. I had to be up early for work and for the first time in my life I decided to be sensible. The struggle was real guys. It was legit the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I still don't know how I managed to force myself to put the book down. It was right at the OMFG NO WAY I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WHAAAT moment, where you NEED to keep reading because you HAVE to know what's going to happen next. And. I. Put. The. Book.Down. I deserve a medal. The entire next day was total torture until I could finish reading it. I have stared in to the abyss. Seriously. 

I'm a lover of all things unique and original, so this book was literally heaven. There where so many little original quirks, like the Silver's version of blushing and so on, and I loved seeing each new little thing that added little touches to the world to make it really come alive. I'd made the people and the world so original and Red Queen is a breath of fresh air to the genre!

“I see a world on the edge of a blade. Without balance, it will fall.” 
Romance. I know you all want to know about the romance, but as you can probably tell from the whole character paragraph, I had NO idea who to ship her with! As I started to read I assumed I'd ship her with Kilorn, but I didn't get enough of a feel for him to form an opinion, other than he kind of threw some things back in her face, so he's on my no list. I shipped her with Cal immediately, as soon as they met. You could say I shipper her with Cal the entire way through the book, and here's where things get complicated. While I shipper her with Cal, because he was so sweet and adorable and it was too cute, Maven obscured that, by saying certain things about his brother and doing the things Cal wouldn't, I kept wanting Cal to do certain things, and he wouldn't but then Maven would do something like joining the SG, and Cal wouldn't try to make change, and I'd ship her with Cal but then I'd have moments where I was like okay maybe she should be with Maven, as he's clearly better, but then Cal would do something else and I'd be like no don't be silly, Cal and Mare need to be together and there's just a couple of obstacles in the way.

Cal was way too cute and adorable to her, saving her, being all jealous, it was honestly so cute and made you all squirmy inside, so of course, I'm Team Cal. I reached a point where I was like "this is going to be an intense love square" but then Maven did the thing and now I'm like I can handle the triangle that Kilorn will help make, I trust the author to write is incredibly well as she's written everything else, so it's going to be a good one! Her and Cal are the more interesting pairing I think, as they have so much to overcome, and it's so complex, especially after the end of Red Queen. I can't even. It will be fixed in the next book though, right? RIIGHT?!

To be perfectly honest though, for the majority of the book, the romance was kind of secondary to the plot and everything going on with the Guard and Mare learning how to be Silver and how to use her powers and who she really is and how she exists and so on. So the romance was there but it was pretty subtle most of the time, there was the odd big gesture, but you where mostly focused on the plot, especially when Julian was all "here have some info I found, it'll change your life". I'm intrigued to see where the romance is going to go, what with my ship and all, don't get me wrong, but I'm more excited to find out what's going to happen in the world next with the rebellion, and everything.

There where so many points of intrigue in the story, what happened to Cal's mother, what Julian's beef is with Maven and so on, that you're always focused on the story and coming up with your own theories. Always wanting to know more about the book and the world.

“Words can lie. See beyond them.” 
My reaction to the end of the book? Lots of swearing, a mini temper tantrum and OMG's. I ship Cal and Mare so hard and the end just killed me, because they need to be together and then Shade and omg. And then the direction the plot has been pointed in for the next book? SO EXCITED. So much OMG.

Red Queen really brings the feels, it makes you feel all the feels, it's fast paced, there's never a dull moment, the world is vivid and original and the history of the world is rich. Red Queen is fantastically written, always intriguing, and is set to be an incredible and popular series, fast becoming a favourite of mine. Most importantly Red Queen is original, different and unique, and it's a true breath of fresh air in to a genre filled with books that are far too similar. It stands out from the crowd and the romance/triangle/square, will have you freaking the hell out, while being all "awww" at the same time. You have been warned!

I cannot wait for the next book, seriously, I really can't, I need to know what happens next, I need to see Cal and Mare getting back together again and repairing their relationship and I need to see them being all badass and taking down he who shall not be named, Kind of douches. 
The wait is going to be excruciating. I have the book hangover, of all book hangovers, and I loved every minute of it! A little bit of X-Men, (seriously Cal's supposed to marry Magneto) a liiiittle bit of the Selection, a splash of Dystopia and a dash of fantasy. Boom.


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