Okay, am I the only one who thought this was going to be the last book in this series?! In case you haven’t read it, and are still labouring under that misapprehension, be warned IT’S NOT, and it has a HUGE CLIFFHANGER! As it turns out, there’s going to be a 4th book, that I have to wait a whole 11 months to read. Why would you trick me like this Victoria?
Anywho, ignoring my obvious shock that this will not be my last Red Queen review, let’s take a look!
Obviously, as this is the third book, there will be spoilers for earlier parts of the series. If you’re interested, I do have a full review for Glass Sword (the previous book in the series) which also includes a brief, non-spoilery review for the series as a whole. So, no matter where you are in the series, there should be a section somewhere you’ll find useful.
But I digress, let’s get into the review, shall we…
Okay, I’m sure everyone remembers the brutal cliff-hanger at the end of Glass Sword. Leaving us with Mare leaving the Scarlet Guard and becoming Maven’s prisoner (seriously, brutal!). I really enjoyed the way this was dealt with in this book. It wasn’t a cliff-hanger that was designed to hook you into the next book, just to be resolved in the first 10 pages before the real action begins. The cliff-hanger set up a major part of the story, and I thought worked really well – it felt very satisfying.
Obviously, this series has its own little love triangle between Cal, Mare and Kilorn. For all the Mare/Kilorn fans out there, this instalment might be a disappointment, but there’s a fair amount of Mare/Cal cuteness to satisfy me. But still, one of the things I love about this series is that the romance never takes centre stage. Her romantic life is never allowed to compromise her beliefs. She’s such a strong character, and that doesn’t change in this book – thank goodness. In comparison to Glass Sword, there’s probably a little bit more of a romance emphasis in this story, but love has become so tangled up in the Scarlet Guard that it would be hard to avoid! Despite that, it’s dealt with well and doesn’t weaken or demean Mare’s bad-ass status in the slightest.
One thing that was different about this book was the different perspectives. No longer do we just see Mare’s point of view, but also a few chapters from Cameron and Evangeline. One of the things I love about this series is that all the narrators are all female. I always appreciate a series where women write women (especially strong women like Mare), it’s a rare find and Aveyard deals with it really well. It’s made even more impressive that each of these characters has a really unique voice. The only character I had any sort of issue with was Cameron (she’s just a little self-absorbed and angsty for my liking), but it still adds great depth and variety to the narration, so I’m not complaining too much.
These multiple perspectives really help to develop the characters. Since a large portion of the book happens with Mare in captivity, we don’t get to see a whole lot of character development from some of our other favourite Scarlet Guard members (ahem, Farley). However, the little snippets from Cameron and Evangeline do even it out a little, they both undergo a substantial amount of character growth in this instalment despite limited screen-time.
The last thing I want to talk about (before the spoilery people and I discuss that ending) is the diversity of this series. I’m not going to warble on too much about it, but I do think it’s important to mention. This series, very subtly, includes diversity in terms of race, class and (now, in this instalment particularly) sexuality. I love that Aveyard doesn’t make a feature of it, it’s completely normalised – as it should be.
(The time has come, the spoilers are arriving, bye non-spoilery people – enjoy your reading!)
Okay, that ending… as I said, I thought this was the last book in the series so you can imagine my dismay at this cliff-hanger of an ending! Since finishing it, I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think of another way it could have ended, but despite how sad it makes me, it’s the only ending that was in keeping with the characters. Mare could never be Queen, it’s not in her nature. Cal is programmed to go after the crown. There’s really no other way it could have ended (no matter how heartbroken it makes me). I’m very interested to see how King Cal deals with Maven in the next book, I thought it was really interesting that he hasn’t been killed off yet (my first clue that this book wasn’t actually the finale). I can’t believe I’m stuck on this cliff until next February!
Overall, I gave this book 4/5 stars – the same rating I gave both Red Queen and Glass Sword. I’m nothing if not consistent! I can’t really put my finger on why it’s not getting full marks, but I just can’t bring myself to give it 5/5. Despite that, I still think it’s an amazing series that deals with a lot of important issues, has one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in YA, and captures such a diverse cast of characters. If you haven’t read it already, you definitely need to – hopefully this third instalment won’t disappoint you!
Let me know what you guys think in the comments! I love hearing from you all!