Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

IAveyard_RedQueenf I had never read the Hunger Games trilogy or the Lunar Chronicles or the Mortal Instruments, or watched the Divergent movies or The 100 television series, I would most certainly have been blown out of the water by this dystopian YA novel.

However, this tale—about a teenaged girl living in a downtrodden society ruled by an elite race of [super-]beings with special skills and a fondness for killing for/as sport, who accidentally discovers that she is also special and is then thrown into an adventure that includes self-discovery, empowerment, battle training, a few unnecessary deaths, a violent stand off (or three), a love triangle, and an unexpected (yet totally expected) twist at the end—hits a lot of the same notes that all of the above series hit, which makes Red Queen just another iteration of a novel that I have read many many times.

That said, it is a very good iteration. I appreciate the world, the premise, the characters, and the pacing, AND there were approximately three “twists” that I honest-to-goodness did not see coming.

So, if you’re over this trend of YA dystopian novels in the vein of the Hunger Games and the Lunar Chronicles, you could probably skip this one. But if you can’t get enough of strong female characters in the vein of Tris and Clarke (and even Clary) who face ridiculous challenges and surmount incredible odds to fight for justice and freedom and to protect their family and their fellow downtrodden comrades, then, by all means, jump on the bandwagon and discover the spitfire that is Mare Barrow.

No. 16 on my challenge. The talented Victoria Aveyard was but 25 when this, her debut, was published in 2015. She has since published six subsequent novels in this series / universe and has two more on the way.

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Winter by Marissa Meyer

Winter.LunarChronicles.MarissaMeyerTypically, when I have to wait for a long while between books in a series, I lose interest and drop it. But I am glad that I powered through to finish Meyer’s Lunar Chronicals (minus Fairest, which is still on my list). With this last book, it became very clear that Meyer had a solid, entertaining, and engaging story arc for the entire series, right from the first chapter of Cinder, and I really appreciate her efforts to (and successes in) reimagine these classic fairy tale waifs (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White) as strong, capable, heroic leading women. The entire cast of characters, actually, is very well drawn. Not a two-dimensional character in sight.

As Thorne would say, this series is aces. Loved everything about it (except the cover art).

No. 15 on my challenge—best to get the longest book out of the way first.