So, typically I type up reviews of the books I finish fairly quick after finishing them and then touch them up periodically before actually publishing them, but this book I chose to wait to write my actual review. The reason I did this was because I was so upset at how disappointed in this book I was after finishing. I needed time to get compose myself and get my thoughts together. I’m going to clarify right away that it’s not that I didn’t like this book. It had many great things going for it. It’s just that the book as a whole was a let down for how excited I was to read it. This book is the reason I try not to have expectations for books, but with this one it was hard not to. Everyone was reading it, and everyone was loving it. So why didn’t I love it? I guess that’s what this review is for. Warning: there will be some spoilers, so don’t read this review if you’re really looking forward to reading this book!
Mare Barrow is a poor girl with red blood. She, along with those like her, are forced to live in servitude to those who have silver blood. Being untalented in school and having no future job prospects, Mare has accepted her fate of being conscripted and forced to fight for the freedom of the rich – the same fate her three brothers before her are currently facing. But, then something happens that Mare could not of suspected in her wildest dreams throws her into a world that is not her own where death lurks around every corner.
First I will say that I do think that Aveyard writes fairly well, and I am excited to see how she progresses, this being her debut novel. I will be reading the next book in this series, since I am pretty emotionally invested in the characters. There were definitely some good qualities to this novel, just not enough for me to jumpe on the bandwagon of praising this book on the highest mountaintops.
Now to delve into exactly why I didn’t do the mountaintop screaming. I found this book to be a bit shallow and unbelievable overall. Aveyard’s writing didn’t fully convince me of this world. I wanted to be invested, but I found myself not completely there. I was in the world while reading but as soon as I put the book down, Mare’s world disappeared. I wanted more, but simultaneously didn’t really find myself craving more. I think too, it didn’t help that the occurrences unfold in only a months time. As much as I like fast-paced books, this was a bit too fast for me. It made everything all the more unbelievable.
This book also felt very high school-y to me. And yes, I understand that it’s YA Fiction, but it didn’t hit the right parts of high school. It hit the stereotypical parts. What I guess I’m trying to say is it didn’t offer enough new, fresh material for me. Maybe it’s because I’m finally pretty far out of high school that I couldn’t relate, but I typically still read a significant amount of YA Fiction, so I don’t think my age was the problem. But, maybe it was.
Kind of along this same idea, I felt Mare was a pretty shallow, two-dimensional character overall. There were times where Aveyard really did a nice job of developing her and getting her feelings across, but it just wasn’t enough for me. I really loved Mare’s outer personality: sarcasms, wit, independency, sass. But, I didn’t feel the same about her inner running monologue, especially how repetitive she was. The same lines are repeated in italics until they completely lose their meaning (at least that’s what happened for me – by the fifth time hearing something I was like yea yea I get it – I GET IT). She was also constantly rejecting what she had been thrust into and moaning and groaning about everything. Actually, not even really everything. She typically focuses on two things: Love and Death. She is constantly telling us about how she’s messed up so bad she’s for sure going to die now or talking about the three men that are (miraculously) in love with her. That’s it. That’s all Mare tells us about. Occasionally she’s a bad ass revolutionary, but even occasionally is too often to describe how much that happens.
This leads me to the next quarrel I had with this book. How can three men be in love with Mare Barrow when she barely even talks to any of them? Zander I can see. That one makes sense. I’m all for the Zander romance attachment thing, but even that has discrepancies. Mare is constantly telling us in the beginning that Zander is like her brother and then by the end she may or may not be in love with him? It’s never specified. So even this little love thing isn’t really concretely believable. Mavin is apparently in love with this Red he is forcibly betrothed to after not even a month. Alright fine, he’s making due, but really, not doing it for me. Then there’s Cal who is supposedly in love with her after meeting her once, talking to her sparsely, and occasionally sending her dinner table glances while he sits next to his betrothed. But he will “always choose her.” The love quadrangle just is weird and unbelievable. I didn’t like it.
This review has been a long one, and I’m sorry. I just have a lot of feelings and a few more things to say. But this will be my final paragraph regarding the text. I swear! My final issue with this novel is that I have read this before. I have read this so many times before. The idea sounded so fresh and new but then Aveyard fell into the cookie cutter outline of YA Dystopian Fiction. It has been done so many times, and Aveyard has brought it to us once more. I also found that this book was SUPER close to The Hunger Games. Aveyard’s style is extremely similar to Collins’ writing style and the book even read very similar to The Hunger Games (at least I felt like it did). I found that the plot, the story, and the characters were all too similar to what Collins’ has already created. I wanted this book to be so much more original and wowing than it was. But, like I said, despite all my complaints, I am hoping that the next installment will be better, and I will be reading it.
Wow, so, I got it all out. Those are my feelings. I don’t want to make you hate this book or stop you from reading it, I just had to get my thoughts down. I know there must be people who feel like me, but if you’re not one of them, that’s fine. And if you actually read to the bottom of this post, I applaud you. That was a long one! Happy Reading!