Considering the release of the third book in the Red Queen series was imminent (‘King’s Cage’ was released on Tuesday), I figured I ought to read the first and see what the fuss was all about. ‘Red Queen’ by Victoria Aveyard was a wildly successful debut. So how did she do it?
Maybe I’ve finally read too much dystopian YA (<gasp> is that even possible?)… or hey, maybe it’s simply the answer as to how she did it, but ‘Red Queen’ seemed to conveniently tick all the plot boxes that come up when you compare other successful dystopians. In my head I’ve got a list like this:
Dystopian YA a la ‘Hunger Games’, ‘The Selection’ and ‘Divergent’
- Poor girl
- Boy at home who likes her
- Whisked into new world
- Gets to dress up
- Becomes famous
- Is strong/special
- New world boy falls in love with her
- There’s a rebellion
- She gets involved
- Love triangle
- Open ending
And now I can include ‘Red Queen’ as another bestseller with these tropes. Except it’s got a love square-ish-kind-of-thing going on rather than a plain old boring triangle.
This supports the idea that publishers are looking for the same thing done differently. Until, of course, the point where it’s been done differently far too many times and then it becomes formulaic and you can’t expect to publish anything like it for at least a decade.
What I liked about ‘Red Queen’ was the racial diversity among the characters. It was simply there and natural. Maybe it’s helped by the fact that in Aveyard’s world, race no longer matters. The only important thing is the colour of your blood.
I loved the quote I’ve picked out for this Fist-Pump BQ. Because a discriminatory rebellion against discrimination is doomed to repeat the past. Someone should tell the Scarlet Guard that, because I worry about those dudes. They’re taking the wrong path…
I’m sorry to say the book left me underwhelmed. But it still has legions of fans so it undeniably appealed to the target market. Its success is more than most writers dream of. So, try it for yourself and see.
As for me, maybe I should go read a few contemporaries, and maybe some fantasy and a little Sci-fi. But…
At least for a little while…