Book: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book, the first book wasn’t my favourite thing in the world but it had potential and I was hoping that the sequel would expand on the potential seen in the first one, plus I met the author just before I started reading it and got it signed so I was really hoping that I would like it. Unfortunately I definitely felt like this book suffered hugely from second book syndrome, it was a LOT of set up with very little reward at the end and was probably about 100-200 pages longer than it really needed to be. Sure the end sets up for some pretty exciting stuff but you can’t expect readers to sit through hundreds of pages of boring to get to the good stuff, just so they’ll keep on with the next book! Here is a short synopsis of the book:
If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.
So where do I start with this? I think the pacing is probably the best place as that was incredibly irritating. We switch between extensive Mare-monologues, to action sequences that really leave absolutely no punch at all, and back again, I don’t even know how many times over the course of this book. The actual plot is relatively simple: find and save newbloods, it shouldn’t have taken nearly 500 pages to do that! It also throws you straight into the new story without giving any kind of background on what happened in the first book and I’m sorry but it’s been over a year since I read Red Queen, I’m not gonna remember everything! You cannot assume that your reader is going to be going into the book, fresh off reading the first in series. This isn’t really a particular bug bear just with Aveyard, it’s authors in general really. Series synopses need to be a thing! The chapters were also overly long, it felt like I was trudging through them to get to the end, as opposed to actively enjoying them.
I also didn’t love Aveyard’s writing? She tended to lean on the same phrases and use them over and over again throughout the book. Seriously, I could have made a drinking game out of the number of times Mare used the phrases “lightning girl” and “anyone can betray anyone” in this book! She treads the line between cheap action sequences that didn’t really add anything to the plot asides from being “flashy” and info-dumping throughout most of the book. I actually said in my first Red Queen review that I liked her writing, so I don’t know what changed in this book, but it really irritated me.
Whilst I quite liked Mare in the first book, despite her awful name, in this book she became absolutely unbearable to me. Her inner monologues were lengthy and boring, she had the tendency to contradict herself all the time, she was arrogant to the point where you kind of wanted to punch her, she was so dismissive and rude to her friends and I felt like she kind of looked down on anyone who wasn’t a newblood? Correct me if I’m wrong, but it felt that way to me! She feels so incredibly entitled and yet is so self-pitying at the same time, it’s not a fun combination to read. I complained in the first book that she didn’t seem to have much agency, and as far as I could tell, that didn’t really change much in this book, she still didn’t feel like much of a leader to me.
The plot was incredibly thin on the ground. It was basically them rushing between one part of the Kingdom and another to rescue newbloods, who just so happened to have the exact powers Mare needed them to in order to complete the big mission at the end. Almost every chapter read the same to me, and I often found myself flicking through to find out when they would be over.
Cal, I actually appreciated more in this book. He seemed to be one of the few who was willing to call Mare out and tell her when she’d gone too far (him and Cameron), he’s actually lost far more than Mare has and deals with it a lot better than she does. I wouldn’t go as far as to say he was totally fleshed out, but I felt like he was more on the way there.
The villains’ just totally dropped off the map in this book! I mean Maven and Elara are kind of there in the background, but they really don’t make their presence felt at all, I mean we’re supposed to believe that all the newbloods are in danger from them and they’re this force to be reckoned with, but they kind of just slink around for the entire book. It would have been nice for them to be more scary really!
I still enjoyed all of the abilities, but it annoyed me that everyone they recruited just happened to have a skill they needed, you’re recruiting all these people. it’s likely that one of them won’t have a useful skill! It just felt too coincidental to me, it would have been better if the characters had powers that fit their personalities, that could have been a prime chance to develop their characters, but no we don’t get that, they are barely developed. I liked the hints that we saw of Cameron, she was great, but all the rest basically seemed to be there as props to do Mare’s bidding.
I also didn’t like that for someone who family is supposed to mean so much to, Mare basically forgot about her family half the time throughout this book. There’s no point your YA character having a present family (a big score point) if they just forget about them all the time! I did like that this book explored her relationship with her brother Shade a bit more though, that was good.
I felt so bad for Kilorn, Mare treated him so badly when all he was doing was trying to help. I actually enjoyed his character, he and Cameron were basically the only characters that showed any real spark in this book!
The romance in this was again pretty bland. So Kilorn is basically out of the picture and she tells him as much, which I did appreciate because I hate it when the guy who is obviously not going to win the girl’s affections is led on. Maven and Cal both still appear to be in the running for Mare’s heart, despite the fact that Maven is evil now, Mare doesn’t seem able to let go. It all just felt rather bland to me, I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Cal and Mare and Maven’s not really there for most of it and on his side, Mare feels kind of like a possession, which is something I hate. I don’t feel like romance is Victoria Aveyard’s forte!
I didn’t really feel like the world building was expanded much in this book. They travel through basically the entire Kingdom, but there’s no map and no real expansion of the world, it was just, oh we’re going to this part of the kingdom, now this part, now this part and I just felt completely confused by it! It’s never really been explained why the Silvers are in power or where the whole divide came from, only the vague, “oh there was a war a long time ago and now everyone hates everyone else”. And we still have no idea why newbloods exist, they just do.
It also really bothers me that Mare has no female friends at all, now I’m not saying that girls can’t get along better with guys than girls, but there are very few YA books that show positive female friendships and I would love to see more of this, because I feel like teenage girls need that sometimes, they need to know that other teen girls aren’t the enemy! It wasn’t as bad as the first book with all the girl on girl hate between Mare and Evangeline, but the only girls who have much of a presence in this book are Mare, Farley and Cameron, Mare and Farley, I guess are friends but I’m not sure you could tell by the way they act. Cameron is hostile to Mare from the get go and that’s understandable, but I would have liked it if she had one close female friend. Just one.
The fantasy elements from the first novel seemed all but gone in this one as well, I liked that the first one was a kind of dystopian/fantasy cross, but it seemed like this book couldn’t decide what it wanted to be, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy, who knows?
There are TOO MANY characters! Have a few characters and focus and really develop them, rather than throwing in all of these newbloods with different names and powers and no personality for readers, just give us a few well developed ones, we won’t mind! We might even actually thank you for it. I read a lot okay, I do not have time to remember every single random character you want to throw into the story and it must be even worse for people who read hundreds of books a year.
I was hoping the Scarlet Guard would have more to do in this one, but aside from at the very start and the very end, they basically do nothing.
It got a bit more exciting towards the end, but still, the action sequences were rather clumsily written, she writes them in a big, cinematic sort of way, which is fine for screenplays, but in books, you don’t necessarily want that.
I also don’t understand how Mare could have got so good with her powers so quickly, she wasn’t even in the palace for that long!
Basically, much as I wanted to like this book, it really wasn’t for me, far too much style over actual substance, Mare was irritating, character development was thin on the ground and world building was practically non existent, there were too many characters, and the plot pretty much wasn’t there at all. I think it would take something really special for me to want to continue the series at this point!
My Rating: 2/5
The next book I will be reviewing is And I Darken, the first book in The Conqueror’s Saga by Kiersten White.