Red Queen

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, book 1/4 
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 10th, 2015 

I first picked up Red Queen as my Spring Break read in 2015. I wanted a good sized book with a solid plot and an intriguing romance in a fairytale setting that I could immerse myself in during my vacation. Yay for me, Red Queen was this book! 

Mare Barrow is a Red; that is, her blood is red, and that makes her a commoner. All Reds are considered inferior to the Silvers, the nobility who are close to gods with their different powers. They are cruel, ruling over the Reds with unquestionable authority. 
After a chance meeting with a man from the palace, Mare is summoned there the next day. She is to work as a servant, miraculously escaping her inevitable upcoming conscription in the war. Her palace duties begin immediately, throwing her into a crowd gathered for the competition of the crown prince’s hand in marriage. Mare cannot believe her eyes when she sees that Cal, the man she met on the streets the night before, is none other than the crown prince himself. He is part of the royal family who tyrannizes the Reds and keeps them in their lowly station.

In an effort to protect herself during the fierce competition, Mare unintentionally produces a surge of lightening, astonishing every Silver in the room.  After all, no Reds have powers. Mare, just as surprised as the Silvers, is smart enough to know that whatever just happened was not good. She tries to flee for her life, but is captured instead. The King and Queen, afraid of what they saw in Mare, cannot let people know what she truly is; thus, they build her up as one of their own, announcing that she is really the daughter of a deceased Silver general, found and raised by Reds. As a part of this massive lie she is forced into, Mare is betrothed to Cal’s younger brother, Maven, as a way to secure her secret. Meanwhile, Cal is betrothed to another. Mare and Cal, both are betrothed to other people, have an obvious attraction to one another. Though Mare wants nothing to do with the royal family, Cal has shown her kindness on many different occasions, complicating their relationship.

Unfortunately for every character in this book, the main theme of this story is betrayal. There are layers upon layers of betrayal: the developing romance of Mare and Cal, behind their betrotheds’ backs; Mare’s secret involvement in the Scarlet Guard, a resistance group trying to overthrow the royal family; Maven’s own participation in the Scarlet Guard; and the betrayal of family against family that unravels at the end. This book contained some great plot twists and strong characters, and the series as a whole has become an instant favorite. Well done, Victoria Aveyard, for writing such a captivating debut! For more, read the next book in the series, Glass Sword.

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Emerald Green

Title: Emerald Green
Author: Kerstin Gier, translated from German by Anthea Bell
Series: The Ruby Red Trilogy, book 3/3
Genre: Romance, Time Travel, YA
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: October 7th, 2014 
(first published December 8th, 2010) 


Note: This post reviews the third book of The Ruby Red Trilogy. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue, before reading this review. 

Gwen is still getting used to the idea of time-travel. It is disorienting and downright confusing at times, and everyone involved seems to be keeping a big secret from her – a secret about her destiny as the Ruby in the Circle of Twelve time-travelers. Since no one tells her anything, she decides to figure things out for herself, and make secret visits to the past. She begins to suspect the founder of the Lodge, Count Saint-Germain, to have his own ulterior motive as to why the circle needs to be closed with the Ruby’s blood.

Aside from the pressure to unravel the mystery of the Lodge before she runs out of time, Gwen is continuously frustrated with her time-travel partner, Gideon, who seems to treat her differently each time they are together. Sometimes he acts indifferently and rude, and other times he is charming and wants to kiss her. This only adds to Gwen’s mounting confusing. What are Gideon’s motives for pursuing a relationship with her? Is he really interested in her, or is he, too, only using her to get to what he wants?

In this exciting, page-turning finale, Gwen takes her life, and her heart, into her own hands. She refuses to be anyone’s puppet and boldly discovers the truth for herself – and she learns more than she expected to. This author masterfully wraps up several different characters’ journeys, as well as tying in moments that she foreshadowed all the way back in the first book. This series is now a new favorite of mine in the time-travel genre, as well as young adult.

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Sapphire Blue

Title: Sapphire Blue
Author: Kerstin Gier, translated from German by Anthea Bell
Series: The Ruby Red Trilogy, book 2/3
Genre: Romance, Time Travel, YA
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: October 31st, 2012 
(first published January 5th, 2010)


Note: This post reviews the second book of The Ruby Red Trilogy. You may like to read the first book in the series, Ruby Red, before reading this review.

Ever since Gwen discovered that she was a time-traveler, her life has been anything but ordinary. She has been flung into the world of the secret society known as the Lodge and is now expected to follow their every command. Using the chronograph, they send her back in time every day, usually with a specific agenda in mind. One is for her to collect blood from other time-travelers in the past so that they can enter it into the chronograph and close the circle. Once the circle closes, they believe that they will have a cure for all sickness and disease in the world.

The second of the two chronographs was stolen many years ago by two of the twelve time-travelers, Lucy Montrose and Paul de Villiers, ancestors of both Gwen and Gideon. This chronograph contains the blood of every time-traveler except Gwen, and it is believed that Lucy and Paul stole and hid it to prevent the circle from closing, though no one knows exactly why. This is one of the mysteries that Gwen, and her best friend Lesley, try so desperately to unravel.

As things remain unclear with this secret society of time-travelers, so do things remain unclear in her relationship with Gideon. The first book ends with Gideon kissing Gwen unexpectedly, and they continue to have their fair share of kissing in book two, even though neither of them fully trust each other. Gwen is on a constant rollercoaster ride with her emotions in this book. It is all she can do to try to stay level-headed and get to the bottom of the mystery – before she runs out of time.

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Ruby Red

Title: Ruby Red
Author: Kerstin Gier, translated from German by Anthea Bell
Series: The Ruby Red Trilogy, book 1/3
Genre: Romance, Time Travel, YA
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: May 10th, 2011
(first published January 6th, 2009)

Ruby Red, book one of its trilogy, tells the story of Gwyneth Shepherd, a seemingly ordinary high-school girl living in modern-day London. That is, until she discovers that she has inherited her family’s time-traveling gene. This comes as a surprise to everyone, particularly because Gwen’s cousin Charlotte was assumed to be the one who would inherit the gene. Charlotte has been preparing for this her entire life, Gwen not at all. She is thrust completely unprepared into The Lodge, the secret society of time-travelers spanning over hundreds of years. There are only twelve time-travelers, each one represented by a precious stone; Gwen, the final stone, is the Ruby. She is to close the circle of time-travelers and fulfill a certain destiny – and she has no idea what that destiny is. 
As with the others before her, Gwen must elapse (the term used for traveling through time) for a certain amount of time per day through means of the the chronograph, one of only two time-traveling devices in the world, to avoid sporadic trips into the past. Once her blood has been entered into the chronograph, it can be used to transport her to an exact date and time in the past. Gwen begins elapsing for hours every day. Sometimes, she is sent into the past for no reason other than meeting her time-traveling quota for the day. Other times, she is sent on important missions – like meeting the intimidating founder of the Lodge, Count Saint Germain – with her time-traveling companion, the diamond, Gideon de Villiers. 
Her relationship with Gideon takes off to a rocky start, primarily because he looks down on Gwen as an unprepared, inexperienced, immature child. Gwen has mixed feelings about him, because even though he looks down on her, he is unbelievably attractive. She can’t help wanting to prove him wrong about her and gain his approval, and maybe his affection as well. Throughout the book, we see the mounting tension in their relationship, which the author masterfully keeps unresolved until the end of the trilogy. As if time-traveling weren’t interesting enough, their romance definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. 
In addition to the relationship between Gwen and Gideon, I also loved the relationship between Gwen and her best friend, Lesley. Lesley is always there to support Gwen, whether by helping her dig up information on this secret society or by talking it out when Gwen needs someone most. She is such a great best friend that she makes you wish you had a “Lesley” in your life. 

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Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Series: Matched Series, book 3/3
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: the Penguin Group
Release Date: November 13th, 2012

Note: This post reviews the third book of the Matched trilogy. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Matchedand Crossed, before reading this review.  
Cassia and Ky (and their friend Indie) are now a part of the Rising, but are assigned to vastly different roles. Ky and Indie are pilots, and Cassia is back in the Society, working undercover. This time, she lives in Central. Xander, too, is with the Rising, and even though Cassia suspects this, she doesn’t know for sure. Cassia finds herself separated from the two people she cares about most.
The Rising, the resistance group that has been moving in secret for many years, emerges at the outbreak of the Plague. One of the strengths of the Society has always been their ability to protect its citizens from any sickness or disease. But now, with the Plague threatening the masses, the Rising is the group to come forward with the cure, not the Society. Because of the cure, the Rising takes over the Society and is seen as the savior. But when an unforeseen mutation caused by the cure begins to develop in many, neither the Society nor the Rising has a solution. It is up to Cassia and Ky and Xander to search for a final cure themselves. Some are immune to this mutation – but not all.
This conclusion to the Matched trilogy was the most exciting of the three books. Building on the last book, we now get to experience the story being told not only from Cassia’s and Ky’s points of view, but Xander’s as well. In this way, we see what is going on in each of their different worlds during the same time frame. This keeps things constantly moving to help keep the reader engaged at any point in the story.

I found a couple of things annoying, however. The writer seemed to think that Ky needed a second love interest, since Cassia always had Xander as an option, too. So there is this build up of emotions between Ky and Indie, the girl who escaped in book two with Cassia. Even though Ky needs Cassia more than anything in the world, he and Indie develop a relationship that is all their own. (BOO) It escalates to Indie kissing him, and not being too bothered by it. Not only that, but Ky and Cassia both act like it’s ok to love two people at the same time – Ky loves Cassia and Indie, Cassia loves Ky andXander, though admittedly in different ways. I don’t enjoy watching these kinds of relationships, fictional or not.

Other than that, I really did enjoy not only this book, but the series as whole. Dystopian fiction has obviously taken off in a dramatic way, and I liked seeing this take on what our world is going to become if we continue down the paths we are on. These stories should make us think a bit more about how our choices now really will affect the future of this world.

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