Mare grew up in the Stilts with other Red bloods, second class citizens to the evolutionarily superior Silver bloods, whose power and strength make it possible to subject Reds to a life of squalor and violence. Bound to a fate of conscription into war, Mare lost hope of a bright future for her family, until she discovers she’s not an ordinary Red Blood—she, too, has strange abilities. A Red rebellion rises while she’s thrust into a world of royalty and privilege, and she has to choose between safety, liberation, and finding out the truth about her new gilded life.
Although we’re told Mare grew thick skin after fending for herself in the streets, she’s constantly manipulated and ushered through out the book by the whims of others, rarely making decisions or taking action for herself. Save for a few fight scenes, she spends most of the story whining about the injustices of her world while doing very little about it, and the action she does take is very passive. However, the book is incredibly fast paced, with a great balance of action scenes and a well structured plot, making it impossible put down…until Mare’s passivity dulls the story.
This would have earned another star if the character development of her family and friends from the Stilts wasn’t so lackluster. We get a vague sense of who they are, but know very little about them and therefore feel little sympathy when tragedy strikes. She and her loved ones lack substance, which is particularly disappointing as her family serves as a primary motivation throughout the novel.
I got hooked from the moment I picked up the Red Queen, and felt myself losing interest as Mare’s actions, motivations, and background fell flat. There are so, so many amazing YA novels with kick-ass female characters, but unfortunately Red Queen wasn’t one of them.