Saturday, April 16, 2016

Review Revision: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

OK. I was wrong. Red Queen isn’t as terribly awful as my first review claims. My dear readers, I have a confession to make: sometimes I make the mistake of reading and judging a book as an adult writer, instead of considering the literary needs of teenagers. Sometimes, after dashing off a hasty adult-biased review, I’ll find myself thinking about the offending story-world long after I’ve finished the book, and I’ll think, “Maybe I’ll give it another shot.” (This happens more times than I care to admit.)

Red Queen was one of those books. I think the reason why I initially didn’t like it the first time around was due to the novel’s audiobook version. The reader had a perfectly fine voice, but for some reason, every time she took on the condescending tone of one of Mare’s enemies (mainly to say something like, “Watch yourself, little lightning girl”) it drove me up the wall. After suffering through several hours of this, I finally just had to turn off my car’s CD player three-quarters of the way through. Which brings me to my second encounter with the story: not as bad as the first. Instead of the listening to the audiobook again, I checked the book out from the library. Without the reader’s voice in my head, the “little lightning girl” insults didn’t bother me quite so much, and I actually found that I didn’t really mind the love triangle—considering that it doesn’t end like you think it will! By finishing the book, I was also able to learn that Aveyard allows Mare to see that not all Silvers are terrible people, in fact, some of them are kind and generous. She even allows one of the story’s major antagonists to die with a kind of redemptive grace.

However, that does not mean I don’t still stand by some of my original criticisms. The story has obviously been done before: misunderstood heroine, polarized dystopian society, political situation cobbled together from historical events, etc. But you know what? Teens aren’t going to care. The fact that the story reminds me of The Hunger Games isn’t going to bother them. In fact, they’re probably going to be thrilled to find a new favorite read. So, Ms. Aveyard: I’m sorry for giving your book a bad review the first time around. Let’s hope that the sequel doesn’t disappoint!

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