Author Victoria Aveyard's debut novel Red Queen is about a frightening world where there are Reds and Silvers, divided by not skin but blood colour. Not only that but certain special Silvers are born with special abilities - abilities to manipulate the world around them to their liking. Reds live in the slums. They basically do every minimum wage job on the market, selling drinks and selling ads, I guess. One way Silvers identify Reds is Silvers are a lot paler and in the city, Reds require to wear this bracelet. Our hero is Mare Barrow, who is in her adolescent years and pickpockets what she can to keep her family alive and well. But there's a war on the outskirts of the city with these strange people called the Lakelanders. So what about the Reds that can't find work? Lots of people can't find work in real life too. They're conscripted, sent off to the war. That's what happened to Mare's older brothers. But there's also a turf war in the city itself, a figure named the Scarlet Guard who holds herself responsible for numerous bombings and promises to continue until the Reds and Silvers can live in harmony. So, uh, yeah, Silvers beating down on innocent Reds in rage. Not only that, but Mare's best friend Kilorn is about to be conscripted, and Mare needs to smuggle him out of the country. And one Red smuggler named Will and his assistant Farley have agreed to do it at the price of one thousand crowns. How will Mare get the money? What is she willing to do to keep Kilorn safe?
And that's only the first forty pages. I could go on and on but all I'll say is, you should certainly read this book. This is one of the most refreshing ones I've read since Shredder. Now, a few people have compared this to Red Rising, another series I like, probably because in that book, Reds are the lowest class as well and involves an inside Red, and there are also Houses, but that's about all the comparisons I can think of. And Red Queen is actually not as unoriginal as it sounds. It's an explosion of ideas and lollipop-licking chapters, forming a vulnerable character who if she even bleeds through her finger will perish, and with enough action setups and deliveries to prevent any romance from ever getting in the way. But the romance is there and it grips you like Julian's controlling superpower. In my review of Amy Tintera's Ruined, I pointed out that it was a lot of fun but didn't give any explanation as to how the Ruined have superpowers, what kinds of powers they are, and how it works in their bodies. Red Queen isn't as detailed on the superpowers as Michael Vey, but I'd say the book overall is actually pretty much on par with that series. We also don't care as much since the focus is on Mare, who has this ability that has some logical fiction that enveloped me. I can't wait to see where Victoria Aveyard goes with this route. She'll certainly do a better job than Kali Wallace did with Shallow Graves; she's already beaten her at her game.
The only negative-ish thing I guess I can say is it isn't specific enough on who has superpowers. Do the Houses all have superpowers, or does every Silver? Because there were a few times where I felt from how many Silvers there were, more plants and waves should've been soaring. Still, this is a book that asks you to just go along for the ride and boy, do we do. Aveyard is also a screenwriter and this book has already been put up for movie options. Some people have said it was written to be a movie. My comment: Wouldn't want it any other way. I'm a movie critic too, after all. Gosh, I really want to spoil this book. But I can't. Let me put it this way: It's a book about an inside job that Mare has to go through after a major screw-up with a complicated relationship between not two but three different guys, one of which she can't trust but she really has hidden feelings for, both good and bad, depends on the situation. There's also an inside job within the inside job, one that's going to continue in Glass Sword and for two other books. I'm reading them the first chance I get. There is also a humungous twist at the end that will eviscerate you (gross, I know), shatter you, and leaves unanswered questions but the joy of imagining what they could be like is what makes Red Queen so amazing: It starts off, letting takeoff go at a reasonable pace.
Red Queen is one of the most refreshing books I've read in a very long time, and I can't imagine why anyone would not like it.