My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Mare’s story seems a typical rags-to-riches story until Mare discovers her own power that could topple the strict caste system in the world Aveyard has created. The Silvers are the ruling class blessed with powers and the Reds, of which Mare is one of many, are the oppressed and (literally) powerless. While the downtrodden Reds are not just taking their lumps (there’s a rebellion brewing), the Silvers still clearly hold and wield all the power. Mare’s ability has lain dormant and the plan to pass her off as a Silver seems possible until one realizes that she would have had to never bleed in her life prior to this revelation in order for it to work. And yet it does – which lessens the collective intelligence of everyone involved that none of them thought of this.
Mare is one of a string of strong female leads that I have read lately. She is opinionated, stubborn, and clever. She refuses to accept the status quo and will battle to the end of her strength for those she loves. While I love the influx of strong female characters in recent publishing, that’s about all Mare is. She doesn’t make any real discoveries about herself and the other characters are cardboard cutouts of their types.
The intensity of the situation kept me reading: Will Mare be able to wriggle out of the ruse the royal family are perpetrating? The potential for romance on two different fronts creates more tension, but love triangles complete with the longtime guy best friend who secretly carries a torch for her are cliche and Aveyard does nothing to make this one original. The plot twist at the end is not necessarily predictable, but it’s still tired.
With a series in the works, I’m hopeful that Aveyard will take this interesting world she’s built and eventually populate it with 3-dimensional characters and deeper plot development. There’s a core of originality within the story that I hope will become stronger through the series.
Similar books with less problems: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong, and The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski