For a second, it makes me happy. Then I remember―monsters are most dangerous when they’re afraid.”
The Red queen series is right up there as one of my all time favouite YA Fantasy series. This was pretty much my most anticipated read of 2017 (well at least the first half of the year). Unfortunately it didn’t knock me of my feet like I was expecting it to but it has left us in a great position for the last book (is there really only one more!) and did a great deal of character development, which is my fav!
With a pretty busy couple of weeks I was only able to read on my commute so it took me roughly 2 weeks to get through 500+ pages and for reasons I will discuss in my Spoiler section I think it could have easily been reduced by 70 to 100 pages. Although those pages served as a great opportunity to see Mare develop more as a character I don’t believe they were all that necessary, or they could have been used in other ways.
After following Victoria Aveyard on twitter for a year now it has given me a new kind of perspective to her writing and I am loving reading about this rebellious girl handing out a big fuck you to the system. Mare really comes to her own in this book and it has been really inspiring to watch her make the decisions she is making finally for herself. I have such hopes for the movies, in the scary world that 2017 is I think this series could be really powerful if translated properly.
As mentioned above I think this is an excellent bridging book for our final installment and does kinda suffer from second book syndrome a little. My suggestion to anyone who plans on picking it up (which should be all of you) would be to make sure you remember all the names of the Newbloods and their powers as I completely forgot most of them and the struggle was pretty real!
I put together a little dot point list after finishing Kings Cage (sometimes I don’t get to review a book straight away and this way I don’t forget anything) and was pleased to say the things I liked majorly outweighed the things I didn’t.
For me the best part about this book was Mare’s insane development and her finally coming into her own! It always seemed like she couldn’t pick a reason to fully be a part of the Scarlet Guard but by the end of Kings Cage we all know she is there for not only vengeance against Maven but also for herself and because the treatment of Reds was so fundamentally wrong. She is going to do anything she can to completely dismantle the system, proven so beautifully and heart wrenchingly at the end when she leaves Cal.
Although I felt the first 300 pages could have easily been condensed it was still really important to Mare’s character development and had an element that most YA Fantasy misses and that was genuine fear and that it is not easy to be captive for 6 MONTHS! Mare struggled with self doubt, fear for her loved ones, fear for losing herself again and of course the crushing pain of the Silent Stone. It also most importantly gave her time to reflect on the type of person she wants to be at the end of this war, which I think was the most important. Not only did she realise her past actions were wrong but once she was rescued you actually saw her act on those realisations. Mare isn’t perfect and I think that’s what I love about her. Although again I think this could have been achieved in significantly less pages, or even through breaks to other characters and scenes I am glad Victoria took the time to actually explore Mare’s character.
“Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown.”
Ah Maven, the boy we love to hate. After hardly spending time with Maven in Glass Sword it was great to see the cunning manipulator again! Is he or is he not the best anti-hero ever? Did he ever truly have a chance? Not with that witch of a mother of his. Can he be redeemed? I don’t think so and I think to somehow save him as Cal wishes would really ruin the whole series in a way, Maven truly deserves to be punished for the things he has done even if he was made this way.
Speaking of really great villains how great were Evangeline’s chapters? She is delightfully ambitious for reasons that were never apparent before. Her voice of reason, shall we call it gave us a 360 degree view of the politics and what was actually happening throughout the story. I thought her love for her brother and Elane really humanized her character but still didn’t excuse her actions in any way, just offered insight into who she was.
I think if done right this series is going to be pretty powerful on screen. The betrayal and lies are done really well and seeing these women (and of course everyone else) fight so hard for their own goals and the goals of their people will be really powerful. Mare’s main struggles aren’t what boy she is going to love forever (and i actually have a sneaking suspicion that she wont get a HEA) but more righting wrongs and not loosing herself along the way.
“The person she loved is dead, stolen by someone else. Mine chose to walk away. Chose everything I hate over everything I am. I wonder which hurts more.”
My only 2 complaints would have to be the length (because it felt like we were sitting still for so long) and the lack of Cal throughout the entire book. In my opinion this could have easily been rectified by reducing some of Mare’s chapters and giving us some Cal chapters, because even though we see through Cam’s eye’s for a decent enough chunk of the book it felt like we had no real insight in to why Cal was doing the things he was doing. Yes he wanted to get Mare back but was that really the only catalyst for him turning his back on all his morals? In the epilogue we learn it’s not, he will always be a prince first and he will never truly understand the injustice done to the Reds.
I feel like Cal has such potential to be a really interesting character and his struggle with being King and his new morals since loving Mare and that inner turmoil. At the moment he is seen as a pawn in this once potential love triangle and a convenience to have on our team, I think that may change with the next book as lines have been drawn. I am just disappointed that we didn’t get any more insight into him as a character. I have never swooned over Cal like many others because I never feel like I know him enough to swoon.
Well those are all of my thoughts! As always I would love to hear yours in the comments below.