I’m gonna be honest. I wasn’t expecting much because the book got a lot of hate.
Boy was I pleasantly surprised. If anything, this book taught me something about myself: WHEN IT COMES TO CHARACTER VERSUS PLOT, IT’S CHARACTER THAT COMES FIRST EVERY TIME.
Mare was courageous, intelligent, calculating, and caring. I found her to be quite mature for her age, and I appreciated that all her decisions were made based on the greater good. She puts her family and her fellow reds before herself. This is quite unconventional for a YA main character, and for me it was a breath of fresh air. She never wavered insanely between extremes, she was very practical and logical. Her family dynamics were realistic. There were no conflated, dramatically cruel parents or overdone annoying sibling rivalries. If it wasn’t for Mare, I would not have liked the book as much.
Aveyard is very good at craft. She took a complex plot and expertly wove in the twists, character motivations, deceptions, intrigue, all the while keeping the direction focused. I never got the impression that her plot was a mess. Every character had a purpose. Every scene tied into the plot and had meaning. Her story was a very tightly-written fantasy reminiscent of a mini Game of Thrones. Some said it was predictable, but I was fooled. I thought the story was going to be about Mare and the resolution of her conflict with Cal, but I was dead wrong.
The only thing that bugged me: mind control. Once again the concept of mind control. I’ve only seen mind control done well twice: once on the Netflix series Jessica Jones, and the second time on a Star Trek TNG episode called THE GAME. Everywhere else is kind of corny and cliche. But even then, it wasn’t too prevalent in this book.
If you want to trash the author for the premise because she included special powers and insta-love, you will not enjoy the book. But this book is so much more than that. Delve a little deeper. Read between the lines and you’ll see a deftly-written tale illustrating the true internal and external destructiveness of deception. You will see a strong character with a lot of agency who consistently made decisions, put others before herself, and tried her best to determine her own destiny. 4/5 Stars
best to determine her own destiny. 4/5 Stars