In 2015, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard was one of the most highly-anticipated books of the year. Now the four-part series is finally over, and I can say without a doubt that it is one of the best series I have read! While set in the distant future where some people have hereditarily gained almost god-like powers, the series has an almost medieval monarchy feel to it.
Set in a world where people are divided into Red bloods and Silver bloods, Mare Barrow fits neither category. Born a Red, Mare discovers that she has the same powers as a Silver, only stronger. When the Silvers discover her, they welcome her into their ranks as a long lost Silver princess. Instead of being treated like an anomaly, Mare is constantly reminded that she should be on her feet, so as to not perish inside the castle walls. Not only is her heart torn in between two brothers with exemplary powers of their own, but the queen has the power to look inside her head for any hint of insubordination. These problems would seem like enough for anyone, but Mare has a secret of her own – she is part of the Scarlet Guard, a secret society of Reds whose mission is to take down the Silver elite. It just so happens that she is in a perfect position to give The Guard vital information.
While imprisoned in the palace, Mare becomes close with the two crown princes, Cal, the heir to the throne, and Maven, the younger brother who is constantly living in his brother’s shadow. A love triangle develops between the two of them. Cal is loyal to the crown and his country, making life difficult for Mare. It seems like Maven may be the one who would actually make changes that could benefit Mare, but could she live with the consequences of his actions?
The character Evangeline is a personal favorite, if only because she embodies a trope that I consider a guilty pleasure – the hated female rival who grudgingly becomes a friend and, ultimately, a fan-favorite. A Silver girl from a prominent family, Evangeline has been raised knowing that one day she will become the queen. It isn’t until the events of King’s Cage, the third book, that readers begin to understand Evangeline has dreams of her own that she wishes to fulfill, mainly a life with a beautiful, red-headed woman.
The other character of note that I want to mention is Diana Farley. While only in her early twenties, Farley is a ranking member within the Scarlet Guard, and she only goes higher as the story goes on. With single-minded determination, Farley defines the resistance. She is a perfect example for women everywhere who wish to have it all – a family and a career as a powerful and feared general!
This series is one of the best fantasy series for diversity I have seen. The main character, Mare, as well as many others, are characters of color. The series caught flack early on for not expressing that the main character was a woman of color, though it is directly stated in the next book and every book after. The LGBTQ community is represented as well in the character Evangeline.
This story is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones and Avatar the Last Airbender. Anyone looking for a story of rebellion and characters looking to upset the status quo will love Mare’s story. In the end of Red Queen, her world view is completely changed, and so is the rest of her world.