For context, Red Queen is about a world in which some humans have silver blood, and with it, the ability to manipulate specific items, elements, or even people around them. However, people with Red blood still exist, and they do not have any powers. As a result, the “Reds” are heavily oppressed by the “Silvers.” However, Mare, a poor red girl doomed to become cannon fodder for their king’s war, is unique in the fact that she does indeed have powers, and it is revealed to the whole world inside one of the King’s palaces. The King forces her to take on the role of a long-lost daughter of a now-deceased high-ranking silver family. The rest of the story is Mare’s experiences being one of a kind, and being stuck between helping her fellow Reds and keeping up her Silver life.
Now, I’m going to get into why it is wasted potential from the ground up.
The setup is great. There is an opportunity blatantly presenting itself to the author to create a very interesting dynamic between Mare’s two lives, given as she’s the bridge between two warring worlds. Although the author capitalizes on this, it isn’t enough, and more time is put into Mare’s love triangle with the two princes present in the story. This is fine, but why bother with such in-depth world building if you’re going to focus on romance? There are a million ways to create that setup that don’t involve a blatant plot point like Mare’s existence. Point being, capitalize on what you’re given instead of focusing on a singular effect of the bigger picture.
For the catalyst of the plot, he is the driest character in the whole story, rivaled only by King Calore, who we barely even see. All we really know about him is that he likes sneaking out, he wants to keep up his dad’s work, and he’s in love with Mare. A nearly 400 page book, and that’s all we get from the plot’s catalyst and one of the main characters. I can’t feel sympathy for him, I can’t relate to him, and I can’t admire him, because I know nothing about him.
The “Twist villain.” I actually liked Maven. His motives were justifiable and understandable, his development as a character was realistic, and he orchestrated a lot of things that either saved Mare or helped her cause. I loved it all until he became “evil” all of a sudden. In an admittedly well-executed coup d’etat, it is revealed that Maven and his mother (who I have yet to touch on, so forgive me) had been scheming to overthrow King and Prince Calore. The author might as well have made the entirety of the plot a dream or something equally as lame, because the trade of for a shock as cheap and ungratifying as this was not a fair trade off for the utter beauty that was Maven’s character. “Surprise! Maven’s intricate plans, noble motives, and charismatic personality were ALL a trick! Bet you didn’t see that one coming!” Of course we didn’t! There was no reason to believe that Maven was a liar. No evil grin moment, no questionable word choice, nothing! What a waste.
An insufferable Mary Sue who the author made sure you remembered every single time she was in the scene that she was an insufferable Mary Sue. Not much to say about her, other than unlike Maven, her twist was believable.
Our protagonist. I liked Mare throughout the entire story. Her motives were pure but logical, and we got to see the sacrifices she was willing to make to keep her family safe, and the sacrifices she had others make for her cause. Watching her do her best to manipulate the entire Royal Family at once and peeking in to her psyche was very entertaining and interesting to follow. Seeing her react and behave like an actual human, especially in the times around and during these sacrifices, was so refreshing. The only complaint I have about her is that she did nothing to make the two princes swoon for her like they did, but I suppose that’s more of a fault on their characters than hers.
That concludes my review of Red Queen. A good read, but don’t get your hopes up.