Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a Young Adult novel about a young woman whose abilities may be able to save her people. Mare is one of the red blooded people on her world. Those who have silver blood are the rulers of society because each of them has some supernatural power – red blooded people don’t have the same abilities. Society is thus separated between the Silvers who are powerful and rich and usually ruthless, and the Reds who are poor and subservient. Except that a resistance group among the Reds is growing and Mare may actually have the power of a Silver with the blood of a Red.
Mare finds herself a part of Silver society and desperately having to hide her Red background and blood. She is to marry the heir to the throne but her position is dangerous and many of the Silvers are her enemies and this danger increases as her use of her new talent increases. She also becomes involved with the resistance and is never quite sure who she trusts.
This book contains a number of themes and plot devices we see in a lot of Young Adult fiction. Mare is not like others. One part of society is oppressing the other. She has an unusual talent. She has dangerous enemies. She is betrayed. She is more powerful than others. She has secrets to hide. None of this is bad because readers of this type of book enjoy these things but I did find this book very derivative. I felt that it had very little that was unique to this world and Mare’s story except for the different coloured blood which wasn’t made as much of in this story as I thought that it would be. Mare is pretty powerless in this story and carried along with events. The Reds want to use her for one thing and the Silvers for another. Because she is continually in new situations she has to rely on others to guide her which is difficult when she doesn’t know who to trust. When she does things of her own initiative it tends to go badly wrong and other people end up hurt or dead. As this is the first book in a series I assume that Mare will eventually gain her own agency and stop being the pawn of others.
This is not a bad book but I didn’t find it interesting enough to follow Mare’s story through into the next volume of the series.