Author: Victoria Aveyard
Release: February 9th 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, YA
#2 in the Red Queen quartet
Series: Red Queen (#1), King's Cage (#3), Untitled (#4)
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
“Little lightning girl. It's what she used to call me, what they called me.No. No, it isn't.Despite the pain, I straighten my spine, standing as tall as I can.
I am not little anymore.”
Spoilers for the first novel, very tiny mild ones for this one, I guess? Like, nothing factual, just hints at the direction it takes.
You know, I was one of the fewer ones who actually kind of loved Red Queen. For me, it stood for the way so many YA novels are built and designed nowadays, but then it totally deviated from that and broke the mold. Many people saw a Young Adult novel all about insipid teenage love that would save the world, yet again, but instead I applauded the way the novel didn't turn down that road, at least not fully. Cal didn't turn his back on everything out of love for Mare, and I just ... loved that. This is a book, a series that finally acknowledges stuff like this and I am so down for it.
Likewise, the empowerment and reckoning of Mare and her followers in this sequel was amazingly executed if you ask me. Honestly, I don't even know where to begin. The way that Mare's character arc is going and the way she develops over the course of the novel, of both novels, is truly something to behold. Sure, Aveyard isn't perfect and she does contradict herself a few times in how she builds Mare as her heroine, but all in all, I loved the path Mare paved for herself and was stubborn enough to walk, no matter what happened. There's this ruthlessness to her that cannot be overlooked nor excused, but it is also something that I really, really fucking appreciate. There are too many YA heroines out there who dare not walk over anyone's feet and always strive to be so good, to me it's disgusting how morally perfect they're always made out to be, because it's just not the real world, sorry. And so I simply relished the fact that Mare didn't hesitate to walk over corpses and do what must be done, however hard it may be. She had her selfish sides and chose to protect loved ones over strangers, sometimes going to extreme measures in order to stay in control, and all the while she struggled with all of this weighing on her conscience, dragging her down. She was indecisive, detached and controversial, and you know what? I loved every second of it. It was so raw, so realistic, and so real, I love Aveyard for finally putting a YA fantasy heroine out there not afraid to get her hands dirty and admit to her sins, all the while not being completely out of it and realizing all her sins, even if she is still in denial subconsciously.
Similarly, the male lead gets some of this inner turmoil goodness as well. Cal isn't painted as the perfect prince anymore, he is revealed to have dark sides and dark thoughts as well and as the story progresses, he is forced to break promises and his own morals, steadily losing more and more of himself along the way. He is so completely isolated and all alone in the thick of things, the only Silver in a sea of Red and Reds with abilities, no one wanting to accept him and thus, with no one turn to. He is unanchored and lost and it definitely shows. Again, his arc was intense and authentic and I loved seeing it all unfurl.
As a result, Cal and Mare's relationship takes a lot of damage. And I mean, a lot of it. Seriously, towards the end of this novel I was doubting whether they could ever fix things between them and work out again in the future. I'm still not sure about it, but during Glass Sword, it became more and more unclear whether they were only using each other or actually harbored feelings for each other, and, as someone who didn't even enjoy their relationship that much in the previous novel, I felt myself rooting for them nonetheless. Maybe it is because of all the obstacles they faced together and have overcome, but I am very, very excited to see where this is going to go. At times throughout this book, it seemed like this relationship was taking a turn into a very ugly direction, speeding towards being toxic and unhealthy, but in my opinion they managed to get over it, just barely. And so the pieces are scattered on the ground now, and it's up to them whether they pick them up or not. We'll see.
The side characters all get storylines of their own as well, some more, some less, but I'm very satisfied with how it all turned out in the end. Some hints are dropped rather obvious, others are more between the lines, but if you look closely, there is something to be gained from each and every character, even the ones newly introduced, even if it's tiny. And for me, that's enough for now.
As for the plot, I'll admit it had its hills and valleys. Sometimes it was running in circles, the pace being extremely slow and dull, but then again, the last ~30% are action-packed and full to bursting of stuff to happen, so I guess that kind of made up for the rather slow middle part. Sure, the author could space out the novel more evenly maybe, but it's really a small complaint.
I am really happy for the next book and I will wait for it with bated breath. The novel ends rather devastatingly and my thirst to know what happens next is impossible to quench. Hopefully, there won't be any delay in releasing the third installment.
Quotes are taken from the ARC version and are subject to change in the final version.