Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel Red Queen splashed into headlines and garnered rave reviews immediately following its February release on the international market. Debuting at number one on the New York Times bestseller list for young adult fiction, its filming rights were immediately snatched up by Universal studios along with its yet-unwritten, but inevitable, sequels.
A young screenwriting graduate, first-time author Aveyard claims to be inspired by her time as a film studio intern tasked with finding well-written and designed novels to option for film rights. Finding none, she decided to try her hand at writing her own, and Red Queen is the satisfying result. It’s a novel deftly shaped by a writer practiced in creating for the big screen, and it’s no coincidence that the novel was immediately optioned by a big studio. A strange-yet-familiar combination of Harlequin romance, summer blockbuster, and every young adult book on the market today, Red Queen is vying to succeed the Divergent series as the next trilogy to capture the hearts of YA lovers everywhere. If that hasn’t sold you, check out the following reasons why you should grab a copy before your friends do.
You’ve read the Hunger Games, Ella Enchanted, and Harry Potter, and loved them all.
Red Queen treads familiar territory – but that’s not to say it’s tired. Aveyard’s curmudgeon heroine, Mare, is an ass-kicking Katniss twin with (early book spoiler alert!) lightning powers, which she uses to blend into the powerful royal Silver clan while aiding and abetting her own subjugated and marginalized Red clan. Aveyard borrows heavily from her YA predecessors, but this familiarity is also its strength; it’s an expedient and electrifying read, crafted to be consumed in a few short hours and leave the reader wanting more.
You crave intrigue
Duelling princes, super-powered gladiators, draconian rulers, political unrest, an underground subway that leads to a (surprise!) not-as-irradiated-as-they-thought abandoned sector … It’s all here. Early advice given to Mare and repeated no fewer than five times throughout the novel is “anybody can betray anybody.” And anybody does. Plot twists arrive semi-frequently and steadily, but unfortunately the few well-placed red herrings don’t quite manage to shake the reader from foreseeing the action-packed climax. The semi-cliffhanger ending is also blatantly optimistically in its wooing of the reader for the next installments, but Red Queen is satisfactory enough to leave the reader both satiated and titillated.
Two words: love triangle
Square? Pentagon? I’ve lost count. But it’s there, and it’s pretty juicy.
You like to get the jump
Red Queen will definitely be a top contender to succeed the similar, massively popular trilogies The Hunger Games and Divergent, and reading it before the first film comes out guarantees that you can smugly tell your friends that the book was better. Don’t want to wait for the movies? Book two is scheduled for release in Summer 2016.
You love your YA heroines
Mare is the ideal YA heroine as a life-alteringly special, and simultaneously entirely ordinary slumdog who happens to be in the right place at the right time. The novel relies heavily on indirect discourse and inner monologues to flesh out characters’ identities and motivations, a tactic that particularly grates me when used in excess, but Red Queen managed to avoid arousing my ire. Mare herself is stubborn, fiercely a-romantic (until, of course, true love blossoms), and loyal to a fault, exactly what a YA heroine should be. The third-person narrative also frequently includes melodramatic inner commentary which recap or reinforce the gravity of her predicaments such as “This morning I was a servant, tonight I’m a princess. How much more will change? What else will I lose?” These occasionally too-angsty teenagerisms mean Red Queen is perfect fodder for the young adult crowd, and Mare’s stubborn strength marred with squishy loyalty is entirely likeable and relatable by design.
You love Game of Thrones
Yes, the twists are that good. That’s all I’m going to say, except for this: not everybody makes it to the epilogue.