Saturday, August 8, 2015

The YA Investigation: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen is a book that stands out for its twists on the usual YA stories. Not everything is what it seemed, or so we are promised. Alliances will be broken, enemies and foes can’t be tell apart, but in its core, how different is this novel from the rest? Are the characters people or plot devices? Does it fall to the seemingly inevitable clichĂ©s of slut-shaming, abuse and so much more that we see so often in the YA genre?

I was really intrigued by Mare at the beginning. She was a flawed character that owned it, never tried to sugar coat her nature and I found that extremely refreshing. I love characters who are not perfect, I did however found annoying that as the story progressed, Mare did horrible and inexcusable things out of spite and jealousy and yet tried to pass it on as a noble cause, taking the role of a martyr. Gone was the girl who owned up to her mistakes. That… was not really cool with me.

As friendship goes, Mare has one friend!

...Who takes part in the love square.

Don’t get me wrong, I love friendships that turn into romance. There is something so lovely about building that kind of love with a person who is already so close to you… but Kilhorn is a love interest, not a friend. His purpose in the novel is to put conflict in Mare’s other romantic relationships, he’d act all possessive when she talked or was with other guys and kind of tried to guilt trick her into staying with him.

She has no other friends or even mentions of acquaintances, even though she went to school. She should have known somebody, shouldn’t she? Yet her whole world is her family and Kilhorn, only the basic necessary to move the plot along, she has no interests, passions or aspirations. What does she do all day? Does she pick-pockets people all day until it’s dinner? Her thoughts on what she did to help her family by stealing people who were as poor as her upset me because she has no thoughts about it at all!

Even though Mare steals everyday from people who work their asses off to take some food for their families, she never considers just how wrong it was, never felt sorry for her victims or had second thoughts about what she did. She was only ashamed of it because it reflected poorly on her, because taking from people who could work was the only thing she knew how to do, but never felt bad for the people she stole from, which fit Mare’s selfish personality but didn’t help while creating a compelling character.

Other female characters: HORRIBLE

This was a point that failed miserably in the novel since there is a huge amount of girl-on-girl hate and slut shaming, with no purpose for the novel whatsoever. Basically any female who wasn’t Mare was an evil, manipulative and overall horrible person. Really, the minute Mare gets to the castle every girl is out to get her for no other reason than to pin girls against each other!

"From the way her fingers tighten, I can tell she wants nothing more than to wrap her hands around my throat."

 Mare described them all as fake, the friendships girls had between one another were not such, since they only tried to backstab each other, making Mare the only “good” person there (remarked by her love interests).

"Before I have a chance to take a breath, a pair of girls steps in front of me. Their smiles are fake and cold, just like their eyes.

Mare, and every girl in the book hates each other without even meeting, apparently it’s an understatement that all girls are horrible, backstabbing and fake.

Her relationship with Evangeline and Cal was particularly troublesome for me, because Mare pursued a relationship with the crown prince regardless of him being engaged, because his fiancĂ© was a “bitch”. So we are supposed to root for this girl, because after all Evangeline is such a horrible person! Well, that didn’t settle well with me, not to mention when Mare wants to kill Evangeline’s brother even though she suffered a similar lost just recently, and yet, what are her thoughts about it?

"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."

So I even though she knows exactly how horrible that will feel, she’s ok with killing the person Evangeline loves the most because she’s holding her crush’s hand…

The love interests were alright, though I won’t divulge much because of spoilers. I already mentioned my issues with Kilhorn, but I did however (and I’m guessing I’ll be a minority here) had a problem with Cal, the crown prince. Even though Mare is engaged to his brother, Maven and he shows he cares about her, Cal still pursues Mare even when she tells him to leave her alone. She acts possessive around her and jealous when she is talking with Maven, not to mention the fact that he likes to prove Mare wrong constantly! He’s not happy unless he has shown her how much better he is at something.

Diversity: Some

As a futuristic world, Mare is described as having brownish skin, and some Silvers have different skin colors, but nothing was specified. Differences laid in the blood color, rather than skin which was a cool idea in my opinion.

To sum up this investigation I’ll say that, although Red Queen presents fun and entertaining writing with a lot of plot twists and mystery, the very core is the same as countless stories seen before, 2/10 in my score.

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