Okay. Remember back when I was reading through the Delirium series? If you don’t, take a second and read how absolutely furious I became as the series went on:
A challenge for YA writers, especially those writing series books, is keeping things interesting and continuing to make sense. That initial book of a series is usually stuffed to the gills with interesting characters, a neat plot and premise, and an enemy person or idea that we feel motivated to bring down. That first book hooks us in enough to be excited about the next book to see how all of this fantastic stuff advances towards a conclusion.
Since everyone wants to compare all dystopian YA series to the Hunger Games, I’ll make an example of it here. The first book of the Hunger Games series was amazing. It was terrifying. There were characters we cared about, and enemy that was real and difficult, and obstacles to overcome that were so huge that we were glued to the pages hoping for Katniss’ survival. Even the movie was good. I cry every time Rue is killed.
But then we get to the second novel and it was like Suzanne Collins said “well that first one worked out great. How can I replicate that success without changing too much?” and we got Catching Fire – book one with more romantic angst, a little revolution brewing, but essentially the same damn book as the first. I never read Mockingjay but I watched both movies and they were BOOOOOORRRINNNG so I’m glad I saved myself the reading time.
Same story with the Delirium trilogy, just with worse writing and no conflict resolution. And it appears we are treading into familiar waters with the Red Queen series.
At the end of the first book we are faced with a terrible betrayal, an escape, and a purpose: to find the “newbloods” like Mare Barrow who are a strange combination of Red and Silver – Red bloods with Silver abilities. A few thoughts about why I am struggling with this series:
- Victoria Aveyard is trying really hard to convince us that Mare is struggling with her feelings for both Kilorn and Cal, and I’m just not buying it. It’s a Peeta/Gale situation but without any of the emotional buildup. There was not enough work done in Red Queen to support this version of angst. Just write her falling in love with one or the other and get it over with.
- I get so bored with the “I’m responsible for all this death and suffering” bullshit. “Oh no all those people died because I exist, I’ve got the vapors!” Ugh. Anyone who has ever had to survive anything knows that you do what must be done and you deal with it later. Every other sentence is Mare reminding herself that she is the little lightning girl (an annoying, repeated nickname) and she doesn’t have the luxury of guilt or feelings or distractions or love or blah blah blah nonsense. YOU SPIT LIGHTNING FROM EVERY PORE LOVE WHO YOU WANT LIFE IS SHORT AND MADE OF SUFFERING THIS IS A REVOLUTION PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE WHY ARE YOU SO DEADPAN AND BORING.
- The creepy new King Maven is stalking the daylights out of Mare. I’m not here for this. It’s fucking creepy and he’s popping out of the shadows and torturing her and wanting her for his very own and it’s so terrifying but not in a good way. More in a way that would keep women who regularly walk out after dark up at night.
So I am making a hard decision today: I am putting down the Red Queen series. I feel like it has potential, but I don’t want to get into the same situation that I did with Delirium, that by the time I force myself through this book and King’s Cage I’m just so mad I can’t deal.
Maybe I will come back to it. It’s at my local library so I can always pick it back up. I wouldn’t call this a full abandonment, more that I’m reading other things right now that are just better. The Throne of Glass series is simply knocking my socks off and I would rather spend time with Celeana and her Odyssey than watching Mare bounce around Norta in a stolen jet, suppressing her feelings and avoiding a stalker.
The moral of this rambling post is that it’s okay to put a book down when it’s just not doing it for you. Others might think it’s the bees’ knees but if you don’t like it you don’t have to keep reading it. There’s too little time and too many awesome things to read out there. Go and find them and devour them like the bad book bitches I know you are.