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4 / 5
"I hate First Friday."
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
I thought I was YA-dystopia'ed out. And I think I still kind of am. I wouldn't have picked this one up necessarily, had the ARC not arrived on my doorstep. First of all, the packaging it came in sold me right off the bat:
Plus, the cover design is incredible: very simple and yet so arresting.
I don't think I would have necessarily cracked the cover on this one, though, if I hadn't at first thought it was somehow related to Alice in Wonderland. But I started to read, not really knowing what I was getting myself into, and then found myself drawn in. People say this world concept has been done before - the idea of the color of your blood (something which can be kept hidden) determining your social status. I know it's not a new concept, but I do like how Aveyard worked with it. The silverbloods in this world are all X-Men type mutants, each born with one of several types of abilities (usually related to manipulating the elements, although some can read or control minds). Mare is born with red blood - which means she is not "special" - but discovers she, too, has an unexpected power. The story unfolds from there, as the only life Mare has ever known is whisked away and replaced. She must learn to live among people whom she has always hated, people who have repressed her own kind for centuries.
What I loved most about this book is that it kept kicking the wheels out from under me; I was glad to be surprised again and again! What I feel happens with YA dystopian fiction is that you kind of expect that yes, the protagonist will end up fighting against all odds but will ultimately succeed. This book allowed the reader to doubt, and kept throwing wrenches in the works. Just when you thought things were going to be okay, the story veered somewhere else entirely. That made this book move from "okay" to "good" in my mind!
I also like being reminded when reading fantasy that imaginary worlds are just that, and you can give them any characteristics you'd like. It makes me think maybe I could write a book, after all, too. I am always daunted by the idea of "defending" my plot and setting to others, because it feels as if there is so much prep an research that must go into a book. However, those who write in surreal genres are able to suspend disbelief, since whatever worlds they create are theirs alone. While I think there are still certainly rules that any book must follow, I do love the freedom that fantasy affords an author. It's always interesting to see what writers can imagine up.