A few days ago I wrote about a ton of clichés in Young Adult books, and today I’m going to continue talking about them, but in a different aspect.
I asked my best friend what sprang to mind when she thought of young adult novels and one of the things she mentioned were “dystopian novels”. Thousands of new young adult novels are being described as “a cross between” or “a hybrid” of The Hunger Games and Divergent, and the book I finished a few days ago, Red Queen (By Victoria Aveyard), is no exception to this description. It’s not entirely fair how all YA novels are now lumped under this one description, as it made me start to worry that all originality in this subgenre had dried out. How could a genre that’s fairly new suddenly run out of ideas? Although many Young Adult novels are based on a fantasy world where a teenager is coming of age and going on a journey of self-discovery, sometimes there are exceptions.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say Red Queen is an exception to this rule, but I would say it was better than I expected it to be. The blurb on the back intrigued me, with the whole historical aspect of it blending into my comfort zone of magic, factions and feisty protagonists who are of course, “not particularly good looking” but simultaneously attracting multiple love interests.
What made this book great was the fact that although there were some things that were blatantly familiar, like the dividing of the nation and the girl who becomes a symbol of hope (please tell me you’re all also thinking of Katniss Everdeen here), there was also the excitement of the fact that she was defending her cause from the start, and there’s definitely more politics involved than most novels of this style. I’ve also discovered since reading this that there’s a sequel novel, which I’m itching to buy, and I’m very excited to see where this goes. Once again, I thought I could predict everything, and although I was right sometimes (I knew Mare and Cal would have something going on from the start, and that Elara was up to something), the twist concerning Maven most definitely shocked me, I was surprised and impressed at the sudden change in character! I couldn’t help but compare her to Katniss throughout the book, as although she seems to be more open, Mare makes it clear initially that she isn’t interested in either princely brother. Luckily Cal’s betrothed is portrayed as a complete bitch which of course makes it okay for us to hope she gets killed off so Cal can happily infatuate himself with Mare. On the other hand, by the end of the book one love interest is almost eliminated and out of the question, so I’m hoping this subplot of two lovers isn’t dragged on throughout this series, because I’m so over that. Choosing between two romantic interests can sometimes override the main plot of the novel itself, which is annoying, because I pick up the book for the situation, not for the toying between two guys. What’s interesting is that there’s never a series where there’s a guy thinking about two girls as a main theme, as that would be seen as way too problematic. It’s so easy to think of female ones from the top of my head, but I’ve been sat here for a good five minutes thinking of ones involving a guy. It’s just too risky. Maybe more girls read books… I digress.
To conclude: I very much enjoyed this book, I’m already planning on lending it to my friend so she can enjoy it too, I’m very excited to read the next book and I think it’s a very good take on this genre that has become so overused. This Young Adult novel is one worth reading, especially if you’re around my age and are finding more reasons to avoid the clichés than to embrace them, because this book will redeem your faith in this genre.