Book Review – ‘Broken Throne’ (#4.5 Red Queen) by Victoria Aveyard

Filling in the gaps in the Red Queen series.

Genre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 480

This gorgeously designed package features three brand-new novellas, two previously published novellas, Steel Scars and Queen Song, and never-before-seen maps, flags, bonus scenes, journal entries, and much more exclusive content.

Fans will be delighted to catch up with beloved characters after the drama of War Storm and be excited to hear from brand-new voices as well. This stunning collection is not to be missed!

A bind up of novellas for the Red Queen franchise that follow secondary characters in this universe, and the final short story lets us glimpse into the further of Mare and Cal after ‘War Storm.’

It pains me to say, but this was the least interesting read of the series so far. That, in addition to the publishers doubling up on releasing two short stories previously published in another bind-up. Which left two novellas that I had not read that were so steeped in politics and descriptions of the nation (and historical research) that the tone was dry and boring. I seriously had a difficult time trying to stay focused on the page.

The ray of sun that broke through the clouds, was the inclusion of Mare and Cal reuniting in the last novella. Though not really explored, just a brief moment where they address feelings (not getting too deep) before the story ends.

So I got a brief moment of joy in a sea of lengthy beaurocratic red tape descriptions and two already-read short stories. I kinda feel ripped off.

There were moments of Victoria Aveyard’s writing that really drew me in, especially in the final novella, but the rest of the time the pacing was off and the plot so bogged down with situational recount, no compelling protagonist, for me to feel connected to the narrative, or even care where the story is going.

Broken Throne’ is more for the die-hard enthusiast for the Red Queen series. It has snippets from other characters, description of political movements and wars, history from present day to this dystopian powered world of Reds and Silvers. A great companion for the fans; but for me, a lover of the supernatural powers and a strong tale of a protagonist overcoming the odds, much of this did not appeal.

Overall feeling: It was just not for me…

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘King’s Cage’ (#3 Red Queen) by Victoria Aveyard

A masterful crafting of plot, but suffered with pacing. Still captivated my imagination.

Kings Cage Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

No. of pages: 528

From Goodreads:

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

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It’s not like ‘Red Queen’ where I was fascinated by the world of Norta and the novelty of Silvers and their X-Men like abilities. With this I find long chapters of inner musings about the past, ponderings on strategic moves for gains in war and politics. And while interesting, after a while I became a little bored.

We get more mixed perspectives in ‘King’s Cage,’ Mare, Evangeline, Cameron, and as much as each narrative added something to the plot, they were similar in tone. I found myself wishing for a different style of words and sentence structure to really separate the voices. If not for the description and characters around them (and the title headings) I would not know who’s perspective I was reading. I had enjoyed the single narrative and pacing of ‘Red Queen,’ With ‘King’s Cage’ comparatively the pacing felt slow from the changing perspectives adding extra “mess.” The varying perspectives could have been used as a tool to pump in some action and entice the reader with mini cliff hangers… which it did to some extent, but I wasn’t sold.

Much like Mare’s prisoner routine – it felt repetitive and didn’t go anywhere.

Kings Cage Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgAs much as I love Mare, the strong, downtrodden protagonist. The lightning girl. A red. This wasn’t the book for her to shine. This felt more like a middle book in a trilogy where all the pieces on the chess board are being moved into place for the final battle. I didn’t get any resolution. And I felt as though Mare didn’t develop so much, more like she suffered through challenges. For a hot second I thought things were going to get really interesting for her when she started training her abilities which exceeded what she had accomplished in the past with Cal, but it kind of fizzled out (pun intended.) Though I hope it’s a promise of something really cool to come in the fourth book, ‘War Storm.’

Maven is a bit of a mixed bucket of nuts for me, both literally and figuratively. While we get his backstory to drag out some compassion and understanding; he really rubbed me the wrong way. And even though he is pretty evil, I don’t see him as the “big bad” of the Red Queen universe. I have a few predictions and am keen to find out what happens next. Plus you get a strong sense that Maven is always playing a strategic game, figuring out multiple moves ahead.

Cal was just as confusing – as mentioned, all of their voices were hard to distinguish if not for the chapter titles. But I felt less engaged and frustrated with the political drama. I was praying for action and powers flying about. Cal is painted with different strokes in ‘King’s Cage.’ Aveyard lets crack appear and exploits them beautifully. Mare has a lot on her plate with this King-to-be.

Cameron – why was her perspective even here? To add background information to the story? *confused face*

The snarky dialogue wasn’t even that entertaining any more. It wasn’t funny, more like a sullen teenager’s lame attempt at annoying someone. I hope Aveyard isn’t losing her touch.

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With a slow pace, long paragraphs of cast members not in the action, but in the periphery, it all had me putting the book down frequently. But just as I was starting to get bored, things switched gear at the halfway point and I started to get all the bits and pieces I was craving – Mare and all the abilities in one big clusterbang! Whoo-hoo!

A few Easter eggs are thrown our way in ‘King’s Cage’ and I am really eager to get all the answers and read an explosive end to this collection in the last instalment due out 15th May, 2018. Evangaline, and Cal suddenly got way more interesting in ‘King’s Cage’ and I am eager to see where the story takes us. *drumming my fingers in impatient anticipation*

The plot and story itself is still something I find enrapturing.  I love the battling factions, the tone of discrimination and apartheid. Rebel forces fighting against an unfair regime. And don’t get me started on paranormal abilities! It is all so intriguing. The politics can be fun too, although it started to feel long-winded and dragged down in my opinion of this series. But it is certainly leading up to a very interesting position for the finale.

I don’t know how to comment on the predictability of the novel though – as very little was resolved. Yes, things happened that I expected, there was a twist or two that you knew was coming, but I didn’t get any massive ‘oh shiz’ moment when I got to the end. Honourable mention to Evangaline though – a few scenes with her really blew my mind, she is definitely my favourite character for this book and added the much needed tension.

There is definitely a lot of work Aveyard has done in weaving this storyline. It is truly an amazing feat of beauty.

The writing style is still fantastic. The descriptive turn of phrase, the analogies, are rich and drip with colour and meaning. I’m still impressed with Aveyard’s writing style, the symbolism she uses feels unique and helps create an accurate picture of the Red Queen world. However with the pacing issues, I put down ‘King’s Cage’ a number of times due to wandering interest. It wasn’t that I was bored, or found the story no longer captured my imagination, just that the plot did not move forward. In all honesty, if this book was half its length, I feel it would have been extraordinary. But as it stands, I have to say I had very little compulsion from one chapter to the next throughout most of the novel.

Overall feeling: erm… loved it and was simultaneously underwhelmed…

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Glass Sword’ by Victoria Aveyard

From the slums, to the castle and ending up in the trenches, Mare is in for the fight of her life.

Glass Sword Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

No. of pages: 444

From Goodreads:

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

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?
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It wasn’t long after the release date that I began reading this follow up to Victoria Aveyards debut, and it had some big shoes to fill with all the hype surrounding this release; but did it meet my expectations? ‘Glass Sword’ has definitely surpassed ‘Red Queen’ in my opinion. More complexity. More characters. More supernatural. More action and character development. It impressed me on so many levels.

Glass Sword Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgPicking up the story not long after where ‘Red Queen’ concluded our protagonist, Mare and her (kind of) beau, Cal’s relationship for most of the novel was…. I want to say distracting… because of the nuances of their history and situation. And though it made good reading I’m not sure if I was completely sold on the pairing until after half way. Mare is not the type of girl who needs a man. And Cal certainly does not see her as a damsel in distress. They are warriors with equal gifts to use in their arsenal. A great team for the rebellion. There is distaste and attraction equally present for Mare, she is battling with what she thinks of Cal. War is a difficult time to form romance, it shows our nature at its ugliest and most basic.

 

Cameron was a great addition to the cast – a realistic portrayal of a tween and not quite an antagonist. I really appreciated the dynamic he brought to the relationships and it was relieving to read a story which strains many of the typical tropes of characters in YA.

Maven has transformed into someone else entirely and immerses himself fully into the role of the antagonist. This is where I was a little disappointed: I wanted to see some humanity or inner struggle with Maven. All the other characters were written so beautifully, where Maven tended towards a stereotype.

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Though the narrative style – easy to read – had occasional moments where a sentence felt clunky, and had me rereading the line several times to understand what was being conveyed. ‘Glass Sword’ is definitely high on my recommendations list and is helping me get into a fantasy mood after a past year heavy the contemporary titles.

Plenty of surprises. Great character development.

The ending was bloody brilliant!

Bring on Red Queen #3 – no title yet and just an expected publication date as somewhere in 2017 – Argh! I’ll just have to fill up my time with some other great series 🙂

Overall feeling: Damn girl!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

A royal fantasy with zap…

Red Queen Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

No. of pages: 383

From Goodreads:

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood – those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobels, she discovers a power of her own – an ability she didn’t know she had. Except… her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard – the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince – and Mare against her own heart.

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Red Queen’ received a lot of hype on BookTube, but thankfully, I ignored most of it and went into this novel fresh. I think if I’d had high expectations I would have been disappointed, but as luck would have it, I really enjoyed this fantasy adventure by Victoria Aveyard. This felt like ‘The Selection Series’ and ‘The Hunger Games Trilogy’ had a baby…

Red Queen Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleMare was cute and spunky. I liked her tenacity. At times the narrative got a little immature and pulled me from the story, but on the whole Mare maintained an air of innocence and conviction. Some of her relationships change, and one in particular felt too convenient for the sake of the plot, and I would have liked to see her struggle a bit more with her feelings… but given that she didn’t know who to trust it was a fine line to walk. Viewing the world through her eyes also had me shaking my head at the behaviour of the Silvers – I still am not quite in acceptance of why they chose the actions they did… but it’s just my brain working overtime on different characters motivations. Her ability is certainly fantastic, but later in the book some of the descriptions on how she used it come too easy, I would have liked to read more on a slow (and maybe troublesome) development.

The eldest Prince, Cal was the most interesting character. We see him conflicted and remaining true to his heritage. I love how Aveyard kept his faults and used them as strengths. His younger brother, Maven had a great story line that kept me on the edge of my seat.

While the writing is eloquent and pleasant to read, the characters were slightly flat. Though, this is only a very small (and personal) issue and did not detract from my enjoyment of ‘Red Queen.’ I was surprised, I got all the feels, and agree this is a great escape. I had no issue with the pacing, there is plenty going on to keep your interest page to page, and it is definitely a title I’d recommend to friends. I’m keen to get ‘Glass Sword’ next year, but am also purchasing the two novellas combined in ‘Cruel Crown’ that take place before and after ‘Red Queen’ to add to my collection.

Overall feeling: *nodding*

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.