The very recent trend of adult coloring books has begun to take the Young Adult genre by storm, with publishers putting out coloring books for “Throne of Glass”, “The Lunar Chronicles”, and even the legendary “Harry Potter”. As a result, fans of “Red Queen” – one of the most hyped series in recent years – would expect to get their hand on a ‘Red Queen’ coloring book. This fantasy-dystopian quartet, which is filled with incredibly written, vibrant, and imaginative scenes, is a perfect choice for such a visual representation.
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Of course, author Victoria Aveyard doesn’t let us down. She recently announced that her brainchild finally gets its own coloring book. With the release of it, there are 12 books in the series ‘Red Queen’, making it a bit confusing for those who are new to this popular series.
There is more than one way to enjoy the series, but it is best to follow the publication order if you have yet to read a single book. That way, you can enjoy the story without any spoilers. So, let me open up a door to the Kingdom of Norta and guide you through each book of the series. Don’t get scared, just follow my words!
“I hate First Friday. It makes the village crowded and now, in the heat of high summer, that’s the last thing anyone wants.”
That’s how the first book of the series introduces us to 17-year-old Mare Barrell – our protagonist. Just from there, we can see a thing or two about her: Whiny, immature, and flawed. In Mare’s world, one’s social status is determined by their blood. Those with silver blood possess a superpower, thus they become the nobles. Meanwhile, those with red blood are commoners and have no choice but to live a life of hard labor and military service. Being Red blood, Mare lives in a poor village with her parents and siblings. Her brothers are fighting for the Silvers in the ongoing war, and on her next birthday, she too will be sent there.
In an unexpected turn of events, Mare receives a chance to serve in the King’s palace, only to discover that she possesses a Silver ability of her own. Mare’s superpower is to create and manipulate lightning. To cover up this impossibility, King Tiberia forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to his second son, Prince Maven. However, her heart wanders elsewhere with his older brother Cal. Not willing to be a pawn, Mare joins hands with the rebellion force and uses her new position to bring down the regime from the inside.
I’ve got to say, author Victoria Aveyard really knows how to build a fascinating world. Her initial concept of a realm divided by blood is simply intriguing, and the Silvers sound like what the X-Men would be like if they were led by Evil Magneto. The main idea is that absolute power corrupts absolutely and as such the construct of this society feels rational and unavoidable, given the reality of those who own everything because of their abilities and those who don’t because of its absence.
Still, that alone is not enough to set “Red Queen” apart from other young adult novels. With a corrupt-ruling government, rebellious forces, and a love triangle, the first book is a mix between “Games Of Throne” and “The Hunger Game”. Mare shows us some potential of being a complex and three-dimensional character, but despite being the protagonist, she doesn’t have much development in “Red Queen”. That makes her a typical heroine we all have seen at least once, who is labeled super special, adored by all men and despised by the Mean Girls.
But, well, we can sense something juicy here. In the next three books, the story eventually develops into something astounding.
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Picking up right where “Red Queen” has left off, “Glass Sword” unfolds with our protagonist, Mare, and her on-again-off-again love interest, Cal. The two are trying to escape from Maven, the Queen, and all their Silver wrath.
In “Red Queen”, Mare received a list of names that will be crucial for her fight against the Silver authority: Newbloods. The only problem is that Maven knows about the list as well and will go to great lengths to keep the newbloods silenced, even when it means slaughtering innocent children. It’s a race to see who finds the rest of the gifted Red blood first, but Mare makes a lethal mistake.
It’s often challenging for sequels to meet readers’ expectations, but Red Queen’s lovers will not be disappointed. Glass Sword begins with a bang, immediately catching your attention from the very first line. Victoria’s writing is fluid, fast, and fierce. The action, suspense, and crackling adrenaline has woven into the pages of its predecessor aims, pulls the trigger, and hits home in the second book.
Mare grows up a lot. Over the course of two books, this girl transforms from a timid lightning girl who tries every way possible to fit into a courageous leader. The way people view her at the start of the second book compared toward the end is the polar opposite. Some of her choices will still drive you crazy, and indeed, she doesn’t always treat her people right, but she has stepped out of her comfort zone and strives for the respect she deserves.
Another notable character in book two is Maven. From a Prince Charming, he has turned into a frightening villain. His redeeming qualities will force you to question whether all of us have what it takes to be evil. What’s truly interesting is that within the two books, we have a chance to witness his full transformation, as well as what drives him. So, instead of giving him tremendous loathing, we all can relate to Maven even just a bit.
The third book’s title directly reflects what most of it is about: Mare Barrow has been imprisoned by Maven. She’s either locked up in her prison, which is, in fact, a fancy chamber furnished with all of Julian’s old books, or paraded around the kingdom as Maven’s trophy. With her superpower taken away and guards watching 24/7, fleeing is impossible at this point. Mare now serves as Maven’s spokeswoman to recruit new blood for the Silver army.
Romance is not that big of a deal in the previous two books, but it becomes the MVP in ‘Red Queen’ book 3. Mare keeps trying to seek something that is missing in Maven’s eyes, and just like her, many readers out there believe that Maven is not as corrupted as he appears. He’s simply twisted as a result of his mother’s mental torture – we all hold on to that hope and thus “King’s Cage” becomes an emotional rollercoaster. He does care about Mare, and of course, he loves her. Mare is well aware of this and tries to use it to her advantage, weaving webs of guilt and sorrow into his brain.
While fans of love stories might be obsessed with the third book, those who yearn for some action will find it rather slow-paced. I mean, Mare spends half of the book in a cell without her lightning. How to make imprisonment more thrilling or exciting than it is?
Despite all that, “King’s Cage” is still my most favorite book in the whole series for two reasons: Firstly, it sparks some significant political intrigue. Sometimes it really makes me wonder whether or not I’m reading a young adult novel, because the mind-blowing political game in this novel can even outshine Game Of Throne’s.
Secondly, Victoria Aveyard has taken a bold move by introducing two additional viewpoints – which I consider a smart way to handle the plot because, well, our protagonist is imprisoned. They provide insight into the political scheming between the splintering Silver factions, the Scarlet Guard, and the foreign countries of Lakelands. That adds more layers of depth to the book. You might think it’s a bit slow-burning, but you won’t be able to put it down since you know the war will break out, soon.
In the fourth and final book of the series, war is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?
Not much I can say about “War Storm” without giving spoilers of the ending, but it doesn’t end the way I expected. It’s clear that Victoria has grown as a writer throughout the years, and it’s evident in this finale. Every moment and every scene was all eloquently written, but overall, the chapter still seems… off.
There are a lot of details to the story that only extend it without contributing to the plot. In addition, Aveyard has realized the benefits of different POVs after experimenting with them in book three, and she overuses it in book four. It’s quite confusing to have so many perspectives in one novel, especially when some characters who had their own POVs in “King’s Cage” seem no longer matter than much in “War Storm” and are replaced by other characters who only seemed to be a story filler. That final battle was supposed to be epic, but felt shorter and too easy for me.
But of course, it wasn’t all that bad. There were sequences and aspects I really liked, like Evangeline’s POV for example. Her sarcasm and the friendship she shares with Mare spices up the story, which I appreciated. In addition, there were a few amusing parts in the novel that added some much-needed comic relief.
“And what makes this library so… interesting?” she asks, her disdain evident.
I can’t help myself. “Probably the books.” – p. 130
At the bookstore, you might find four “Red Queen” novellas: “Queen Song”, “Steel Scars”, “Cruel Crown”, and “Broken Throne”. You don’t, however, have to purchase all four. After the release of “Queen Song” and “Steel Scars”, “Cruel Crown” was published, bundling the two previous spin-offs together.
In 2019, Victoria Aveyard released the latest book, “Broken Throne”. It features two previously published novellas, three brand new spin-offs, never-before-seen maps, flags, bonus scenes, and journal entries. That said, the first three companion books become obsolete, and you only have to grab a copy of “Broken Throne” to enjoy the full series.
Among five stories in “Broken Throne”, some take place in the past, with characters’ backstories, and some stories happen after the events of “War Storm”. Not every story was my favorite, I admit, but they all definitely added some depth to the main plot we already know. If you’ve read the Red Queen series, this is a great collection to flesh out some of those characters a bit more and find out what happens to them after the war in the final book.
‘Red Queen’ Coloring Book
The ‘Red Queen’ coloring book is a beautiful way to wrap up this series. The book consists of 45 design pages, divided into two categories: Character-based scenes and sayings/quotes. Most of the designs are of our beloved characters, bringing to life the high-stakes moments in Mare’s journey. Every scene that you imagine is now in front of your own eyes – from Mare’s first night as the little lightning girl to the royal betrayal that changed everything.
‘Red Queen’ Coloring Book
There is only one tiny con here: I had some problem guessing which scene was which and who each of the characters was. It would have been nicer if some sort of info had been printed on the back of the page to make it easier to figure out.
While some Amazon users dislike the sayings/quotes in the ‘Red Queen’ coloring book, I personally find them appealing. Making up 16 pages and are designed in a lovely banner style, these quotes are fairly easy to color and perfect as my “down-time” project in between the more involved character pages.
The Bottom Line
Indeed, “Red Queen” still has some flaws here and there, but overall, I was captivated by the series and several hours of reading were well worth the time.
Each book built onto the one before it, creating a well-rounded and complex universe full of complicated alliances, diverse history, and fascinating culture. You will be surprised at how Mare – the protagonist – escapes the “Katniss syndrome” and rises to become one of the most unique heroines in the world of young adult novels. And of course, if you have found yourself immersed in this magical realm of Victoria Aveyard, the ‘Red Queen’ coloring book is a must-have!