Promoting a new trilogy as ideal for Divergent and Hunger Games fans is risky. Allowing readers to expect a narrative as gripping as these could be Red Queen’s downfall; although action-packed, it’s not quite up there with recent works of YA fiction.
Mare is a red – think District 12 – doing whatever she can to survive in a world run by silvers – think X-Men – humans with abilities. Initially difficult to warm to, her background forces her into a deviant life, but instead of embracing it – like Katniss – she wastes time self-pitying.
A slow burner, the narrative – and her likeability – pick up after an incident reveals her lightening ability to silver royalty, leaving the king and queen with no choice but to present her as a long lost princess, betrothing her to their youngest.
Hoping to overthrow the silvers, the newly engaged couple join forces with rebel red militant resistant group, the Red Guard. Cue Hunger Games similarities, as the group look for a face for their rebellion, when hiding away in a land publicly thought to be quarantined due to radiation.
That said, explosions, torture and murder become more commonplace, allowing mature readers to momentarily forget the plot is aimed at teens – until, that is, the love triangle between Mare and two royal princes (at times including a childhood sweetheart too) resurfaces at regular intervals.
The conclusion is a whirlwind of betrayal and plot twists, which some may see coming, but Aveyard succeeds in keeping the action up. The narrative is interesting enough that you’ll consider returning for part two, but you might as easily find an alternative to fill the post-Hunger Games void.