“Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betrothes her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.
From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.”
-excerpt taken directly from the author’s own website – http://victoriaaveyard.com/books
Within the first few chapters of this book I was immediately reminded of the “Hunger Games”. The Reds (those with literal red blood) are living in poor conditions with very little to eat and the privileged Silver (those with literal silver blood) live in glamorous fashion in the big capital city. The Silvers require the Reds to watch matches in arenas between Silvers – all of which have different magic powers, from mind control to super strength and everything in between. “Only Silvers can fight in the arena because only a Silver can survive the arena. They fight to show us their strength and power.” They have “healers” standing by so that nobody is hurt permanently or even for very long – the Silvers wouldn’t want the Reds to see them actually die. The difference is that the story is more based on the lives of the Silver, specifically the royalty, showing their power and majesty over the Reds.
By random chance, Mare Barrow, a Red thief, is caught by a man on the street who she was trying to pickpocket. He takes pity on her and gives her the money, stating that she needs it more than him. The next day she is summoned to the palace where she is given a job. Jobs are hard to come by and without one you will be “conscripted” or sent to fight in a dangerous war. She is given the job of a server during the Queenstrials, where talented Silver girls from different houses basically perform for the Royals as well as a large crowd of houses and a new Queen and a new princess are chosen from the bunch. She spies the Royals and soon realizes that Cal, the prince and heir to the throne, is the man in the street, and the one responsible for her job at the palace. While serving, Mare falls and lands on a large electrical shield that is placed over the performing Silver girls, it should kill her, but instead she not only lives but produces bolts of electricity out of her hands, which earns her the name little lightning girl. She is captured and brought before the Royals who decide to hide the fact that she is a Red with powers. They make up a story that she is a Silver whose parents died when she was very young and she was taken in by a Red family and raised a Red, not knowing she was Silver or that she had any powers. And to top it off they force their younger son, Maven, to marry her. Mare is immediately given a schedule consisting of etiquette, lessons, and also, how to use her newfound powers.
Meanwhile, there have been attacks against the Royals by a group calling themselves the Scarlet Guard. It is made up of Reds who are tired of how they are treated by Silvers and want equality. Mare joins the Scarlet Guard along with some close friends and acquaintances. She spends the majority of the rest of the book making plans with the Scarlet Guard and trying her best to fit in with the Royals.
I don’t want to give too much away so I will end my synopsis there.
I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written and intriguing. There were enough plot twists to keep me on my toes, and I didn’t completely figure them all out ahead of time. There has been an open spot in pop culture that needs to be filled now that all of the really big franchises are coming to an end, i.e. “Harry Potter”, “Twilight”, and “The Hunger Games”. I think it may be time for “Red Queen” to take over. I would not be surprised at all to hear this book has been picked up to be made into a movie series, and frankly would love to see it. This is one of those books that was described so beautifully and, if done right, could be visually stunning – it would be so fun to see brought to life.
I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. The only reason I give it 4 instead of 5 is that there are some slower parts to this book. There is a lot of build-up (which is necessary for a complex plot) and it really sets the stage for a dramatic ending. It leads really well into the next book however, so I am excited to get my hands on that one. All-in-all I would definitely recommend this series to my fellow YA lovers.