Mare is a red. She has red blood and she’s slated to go directly into the army in a few weeks when she turns 18. The purpose of reds are to serve silvers. Those with silver blood have powers–abilities. This difference makes silvers gods and reds less than dirt. When Mare finds herself with abilities and blood just as red as ever, she’s thrust into the middle of the royal court pretending to be a silver. Engaged to the younger prince, Mare must decide whose side she’s on and what she’s willing to sacrifice to protect the ones she loves.
Right off the bat I just felt like the story seemed familiar. It had elements from The Hunger Games, The Selection series, and Pawn all rolled into one neat package. It’s got to be hard these days to come up with new concepts for dystopian YA featuring a strong female lead, am I right?
My first thought–besides the “this feels familiar” one–was “what’s up with Mare’s trust issues?” Maybe I’m too trusting, but it really seemed like Maven and Cal had only been nice to her at the beginning. They hadn’t really given her a reason to distrust them, besides the color of their blood, and they even showed elements of disagreeing with how their father ran the country. It made me a little exasperated with the main character. Secondary characters weren’t really helping either. They all seemed rather one-dimensional and caricature-ish. Like…okay, yeah, I’ve seen about one million books with this character. Not interesting.
I think most of my issues with this book centered around Mare. It didn’t feel like she was a very well thought-out character. First there were the trust issues I mentioned (you have to trust someone!) and then there was the fact that she wasn’t sure how she felt about the rebellion. She joins up (not a spoiler) but she keeps going back and forth about whether or not she did the right thing and if she likes what they’re doing. If she hadn’t been 100% sure about joining a rebellion, she shouldn’t have done it. Mare had to know that she would become the face of the rebellion with the position she’d been placed in at court. You have to have conviction and confidence in what you’re doing if you’re going to be in that position!
Another little issue I had is the brother love triangle. Love triangles aren’t my favorite, but I especially dislike them when there are two brothers who like the same girl (I’m looking at you Jenny Han!) I mean…I’m sure it actually happens sometimes in real life, but it just seems cruel. At least one of the brothers is not going to end up with the girl and they’re just supposed to be okay with that? It’s not like they’ll never see the girl again…I mean they’re going to be in-laws. So it just seems like a really painful (and unnecessary) situation.
In the end, this book was just okay for me. Partly this is because I’ve read so many other similar books, but another part is that it only feels about 80% thought-out. The abilities–super interesting. But the rest…not so much. There was a HUGE twist at the end that, I’ll admit, I did not see coming, but before that it was just kind of predictable. I realize this review makes it sound like I really did not like the book, but that’s not true. I liked Mare’s relationship with her family and like I said earlier, the powers were really interesting to me. It just wasn’t anything that blew my socks off. Not good enough that I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book, but good enough that I’ll read the second book eventually.
Overall Rating: 3
Sexual Content: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. Some drinking.