I’m a fan of The Hunger Games Series, The Mortal Instruments Series and The Divergent Series… thanks to Victoria Aveyard’s debut series I have a combination of all the above. Due to the responsibilities of life, I usually can finish a book in a week—not this week. By chapter three of the Red Queen I threw heed to the wind (and all responsibilities!) and read all day and night to finish this book. From the nasty trenches of the ‘Stilts’ where our young protagonist, Mare Barrow, lives and her family is trying to survive, I was entranced. She is a member of the Reds; a group of impoverished slaves fighting for the eilte Silvers.
Mare is a pickpocket lacking any skills to get her out of going to war—conscription as it is called in our story. Her father lost a leg and a lung from the war; her three older brothers were conscripted at age 18 and went to the war front to continue fighting for the Silvers. Her younger sister, Gisa, is an amazing seamstress who is saved from conscription due to her talent. Kilorn, her friend, was safe from conscription as he was apprenticed to a fisherman. As fate would have it, Kilorn loses his apprenticeship, leaving Mare to beg his freedom from Farley, a woman in charge of the Scarlet Guard—a secret group determined to fight for the freedom of the Reds. The characters are larger than life and they hooked me.
Procuring funds for Kilorn’s freedom, Mare pickpockets a young man who catches her in the act. This short encounter leads Mare to a job being a servant girl at the palace–forever changing her destiny. During Queenstrial, a long standing tradition for Silvers to determine who will be the next queen, Mare is serving the elite when the floor shifts, and she falls to her assumed death on electrical wires. But she doesn’t die. To her amazement, and the shock of the watching Silvers, she consumes the electricity making her all powerful. A Red cannot have powers! Only the elite Silvers can have unique powers and this low-life Red has shown she also has them. The King and Queen must explain this phenomenon and create an alias for Mare; she is the long lost Princess, Mareena Titanos to whom will be betrothed to Maven, one of the Silver Princes. Mare is given a gift. She is now to be a Princess in the Silver family with power and fame: giving her inside secrets to help the Scarlet Guard overcome the Silvers.
In the Store:
Makeover day! What a fun way to incorporate the love of Princess’ now? After Frozen came out, I don’t know one teen who doesn’t know the song Let It Go. Within every young lady is the hope to become a Princess! Invite several independent Salon owners to come and do makeup and hair! This is a great way to help support other independent shop owners promote their business. Or even lay out supplies for girls (young and old) to make crowns. It amazes me how even young girls LOVE making tiaras and parading around. Who doesn’t want to be a Princess for a day?
In the Classroom:
One of the common core standards we see throughout the middle and high school years is the alignment with text reading and the analysis of the reading. Comprehending the material through demonstration is an exemplar way to evaluate the students learning. World History is usually taught in the sixth and tenth grade—depending on your schools scheduling. Red Queen is drenched in the history of its people and rulers. Our own history is based upon those before us! Have your students read excerpts from your textbooks depicting the rulings of Monarchs. Have students pair up, divide and conquer the years of Monarchy. Create timelines of rulers for show and tell. Have your students give 2-3 facts unique to the rulers before us. In Red Queen, each house is represented by their unique skill and their house colors. This is similar to what is still done today in Parliament. Have students present and demonstrate their discoveries of our past Monarchs. As seen throughout the book, names have power—in the past as well as into the future. It will be fun to see what your students discover about the names we still hear today: anyone say Bloody Mary?
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Harper Teen | 9780062310637 | February 10, 2015 | ages 13 and up)