I’ve been following Victoria Aveyard on Twitter for a while now. While I’ve found her book blurb intriguing enough, I was never in any rush to read it. It sounded unoriginal to me. A world where some people have silver blood and superpowers, and the rest are just plain, red-blooded humans who are seen and treated as inferior. But then there’s a girl who’s red-blooded and has superpowers and everyone goes crazy from the confusion.
I was right about the lack of originality for the first several chapters. Several chapters sounds like a lot. It is a lot. It was good enough to keep reading, but it didn’t blow me away. The prose was good enough to keep you in the story as well, but nothing special. Those times when I rolled my eyes were more because of what was occurring rather than prose too purple. There was the occasional overly cheesy line as well, often tacked onto the end of a chapter for dramatic effect.
The characters were better. I didn’t really love any of them, but they were well-developed and that’s what counts. They were convincing. Our protagonist, Mare Barrow, had emotions that flip-flopped all over the place, but I guess I can forgive her considering everything she goes through. She’s set up as a badass with a big heart, which might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s also a mixture of what everyone wants in a heroine these days. Still, there were times when her big heart got in the way of her badass-ness. I wanted to take her by the shoulders and yell, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you’ve got shit to do!” (It’s a pep-talk I give myself often.)
But having said that, it is my belief that Aveyard’s strength lies in the plot. Sure, the start was a bit cliché, but I also had no idea how we’d go from one chapter to the next. There were twists and turns that happened too quick to see them coming. Tricks and trials had Mare struggling to keep up and you along with her. Stakes were so high they were practically impossible to reach. Aveyard is deft at weaving a storyline impossible to guess at, and that is a rarity that makes this a book worth reading.
Side note: The cover is a lot like the book blurb. It’s intriguing, but not enough to tip the scale. It’s simplicity is effective on it’s own, but on a bookshelf in competition with many other covers, it falls somewhere in the upper-middle of the crowd.