by Victoria Aveyard
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In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.
I’m not leaving this place unless I leave behind his corpse—or mine.
No one can possibly understand how much love and adoration I have for this series. Book one and two were literal obsessions for me. I loved them so deeply that I literally took the time to annoy each and every one of my closest friends who chose to give a shit…even though 4/5 of them didn’t care for this series. I can’t even count all the times throughout a year that I say the name ‘Cal’. I know for a fact that I induced many an eyeroll from everyone around me. All year long it was Cal this, Cal that, epic ending this, epic ending that….it was unforgettable, if only to me. This was my world, and I longed for it every moment I couldn’t have it. And then…this.
It’s almost comical. Every step I take explodes in my face. I tried to save Kilorn from conscription and maimed my sister instead. I became a maid to help my family and within hours became a prisoner. I believed Maven’s words and Maven’s false heart. I trusted Cal to choose me. I raided a prison to free people and ended up clutching Shade’s corpse. I sacrificed myself to save the people I love. I gave Maven a weapon. And now, try as I might to thwart his reign from the inside, I think I’ve done something much worse.
Look, I’m clearly the weak link here. You can go to the book’s page and clearly see that the four and five star reviews are just rollllling in. And what the funniest thing to me is, where the hell were these reviews for book one and two? When I needed someone to fangirl with, when I just needed a fix, a quick look at a new perspective from someone who truly loved this series as much as me-where the hell were these amazing, glowing reviews? There was so much hate for the first two books that, okay, yes, were a bit cliche and a bit over the top, and even were a bit repetitive with the phrase ‘lightening girl’, and now people like this one? Okay…that last one was said A LOT, but still. My point is this: there was no more wrong with those two books than this book, yet the praise keeps rolling in for KC. In fact, I really wonder what made this such a success in so many people’s minds?
Like I said in my pre-post after just finishing-Its not about the teams and its certainly not about who she will ultimately choose…or not choose. I just think there was so much potential for this story and it fell so so flat.
The smell of smoke gets stronger as I push on. Hope flares. Where there’s smoke, there’s a fire prince.
Let me start with my least favorite part of this whole book and what I had thought was a shoe in for being my favorite: The extra POV. I mean….what. The fuck. WAS that?? Cameron was not only a character that I hated more than I could ever POSSIBLY have hated Mare, but she was an absolute brat. She was grouchy. She was judgmental. And, what do I care what anyone thinks, I’m just going to say it: She did nothing but talk shit about Cal. FINE. It’s fine-And believe me when I say that if this was the only problem I had with this book, I would have GLADLY handed this book yet another five-I love this series SO MUCH that I’d have wholeheartedly dealt with the self-righteous and obnoxious Cameron (to this I ask reviewers why they love Cameron so much? You all have hated Mare so much…yet Cameron is just Mare on crack. She calls Cal and others out…but she might be just as bad, if not worse, than Mare. So…why?) with a smile on my face. No. Believe me when I say there are far more problems than something as simple as my bias.
Nights spent curled against Cal. Forcing Cameron to join our cause. Stolen moments rereading Maven’s sickening notes. Memories of who I thought the forgotten prince was. My cowardice. My nightmares. My mistakes. Every selfish step I took that led me here.
Look what you did. Look what you did. Look what you did.
For one….I’ve read a million and one books that are bridges to the final story, and not felt an ounce of the boredom I felt for this one. It’s just a whole lot of nothing, if I’m being honest. I suppose there was plenty of political planning, war strike planning, and even some pretty decent action scenes, but it felt so contrived, so forced that I couldn’t help but feel wholly disconnected.
Which is my next problem: Do you ever feel like you’re an outsider looking in? I mean, in a way, aren’t books kind of supposed to be like that? Of course we are merely the readers, simply observing our favorite characters from outside the book, rooting them on and hoping they make it out alive? Well, yes, in a way this is correct. But, if you really think about it, how often do you ACTUALLY feel this way? The answer should be never. You should never feel separated from your characters, you should always be so fully immersed in the world that you can’t tell where your fictitious book world ends and real life begins. There’s a fine line here you don’t want to cross, and it happened here. Not once in this series have I ever felt like the twice-removed cousin hanging out like a creeper in the back…but this book made me feel so left out, so apart from the story, that when I finally got to the part I pined for, I just couldn’t fall back into the story. In fact, when that moment hit? I deflated like a balloon. I knew for a fact I wasn’t going to love this story, no matter how much went my way. And, believe me, a ton did, all the way up to a twisted, fucked up ending. I just…simply ceased to love, to care. And this might be why my heart is still completely shattered.
Even now, when I am painfully his, he won’t let go. I would prefer death to this cage, to the twisted obsession of a mad boy king.
And, sigh, the elephant in the room, on my end: Maven. If you look back at my reviews, you can see I have never hated Maven. Sure, he has been an obstacle between Cal and Mare, and this brings out the competitive juices in me. But never has there been utter hate. I even liked Maven in book one-not as her love interest, but as a person. He was never a true problem for me because, in the end, I loved Cal so deeply that the Maven moments were inconsequential. So, when I heard this was mostly a Maven driven book, it didn’t deter me in the least. Who cares?? But I did feel that there was something icky about how he was handled. We all know he’s not truly a monster. He’s a wounded boy who grew up with odd circumstances and a repulsive mother. But we also know Victoria Aveyard’s intention is not for Maven to be a love interest-she has made this more than clear. So then…why all the Maven empathy? Isn’t it kind of fruitless after 30% to continue laying on the Maven mind games? He loves Mare in the only way he can…but even Mare can see a screw is loose. So I guess I just felt like it was cruel to Maven fans, honestly. Which is something I never thought I’d say.
I wonder if he has nightmares of the assassination attempt. Nightmares of his mother, dead by my hand. His father, dead by his action. His brother, in exile but a constant threat. Funny, Maven called himself Cal’s shadow, but Cal is the shadow now, haunting every corner of Maven’s fragile kingdom.
Sigh. And Mare. Oh Mare-she can make or break your love for this series….where I sit wholeheartedly in the middle. She definitely isn’t someone I’d say is a favorite heroine (or even one I truly like) but I don’t feel the way most readers do. She is kind of a badass, really. And yes, she has made me so mad I could throw my iPad across the room, but no, she isn’t unbearable, to me. She was the best she’s ever been-I can assure everyone of that. I won’t get into it, but I will say this: my biggest problem is what COULD be. I don’t know how Aveyard will end this…but I do have a problem with one outcome, and I’ll leave it alone because I, quite frankly, don’t want to be harassed about it. Just know, there is a super…depressing way this could end, and I sure hope she doesn’t choose to end it that way, because it would really break my heart.
“If your heart’s not in this, you’re going to get a lot of people killed.”
He whirls, almost knocking me on my ass with the speed and force of his movement. I have seen his fire firsthand, but never so strongly as the flame blazing in his eyes.
“Cameron, my heart is quite literally in this,” he hisses through gritted teeth.
And I’ll make my normally longer than life paragraph about Cal short and sweet. He had some extremely swoony, wonderful, amazing quotes and moments in this book-some that I could only dream of actually happening-I was beyond ecstatic. His love for Mare (and actual declaration of it) made my soul soar and I was on cloud nine…but only to an extent. That’s as far as it went because of that ‘feeling like an outsider’ deal I mentioned earlier. I could only immerse myself so far…and that might have been the final nail in the coffin, for me: My darling baby Cal feeling like the shell of the man he could be. Just….OUCH.
So, I guess that’s that. A lot of ramble, but a whole lot of deep truths from me. I can only be truthful and I can only say what I feel-there’s no room for half-truths or false pleasantries. I liked a few things about this book but, in the end, I just wanted and needed more. Evangeline was a definite plus in this book, seeing as I’ve always liked her from afar (and now I adore her), but not enough to save the breaks in this story and my expectations. I’m glad people are loving this….I’m just devastated I’m not one of them.
“Then what do you want?” When Kilorn asked me that same question, it gave me focus, purpose, a clear path in darkness. “What do you want, Cal?”
He answers quickly, eyes blazing. “You.” His fingers tighten on mine, hot but steady in temperature. He’s holding himself back as much as he can. “I am in love with you, and I want you more than anything else in the world.”
I hope even Victoria can read this review and understand I have no ill intent-I will forever be a huge fan of this series and I STILL love book one and two way more than is acceptable for my health. It is never my intention to attack an author, to attack other people’s opinions-I simply have to get my thoughts out, for my voice to be heard by those who care enough to hear it. I think I’ve always been a fair reviewer, and I hope people can see that the only thing I’m trying to say in my review is this: I’m just a girl who is obsessed with this series, and my heart and soul hurt because I couldn’t find a connection with this story, whatever the reason. It hurts me more than it hurts anyone reading this, and I have nothing but hope for an amazing final book. And if not?? I’ll forever adore the first two books and they will always be in a prime spot on my nerdy bookshelf/shrine in our living room. I just hope people can see that-I give up on series for way less than this…yet here I sit, ready for book four and hoping for all the best. I just hope my heart doesn’t get ripped in two next year. I guess we’ll see, won’t we?
NO one knows how painful this is for me to rate and feel this way. It has nothing to do with Maven. It has nothing to do with my precious baby Cal, who, by the way, I will still marry someday and who can STILL do no wrong in my eyes. And, actually, it has nothing to do with Mare. I don’t care if you’re team Cal, Maven, Mare, Kilorn, or Evangeline. In fact? It had nothing to do with this hideous representation of the characters in this story, at all.
What it comes down to? This story sucked, plain and simple. Boring without an ounce of inspiration, this book is nothing more than filler, extra drama, and a total bridge to the final book. And, if I’m being completely honest, I, for once, don’t see how the next book can be any better.
I’ll hold out hope, though. Cal is a number one BBF, and I will see this all the way to the end.
AHHHHH CAL TIME CAL TIME CAL TIME CAL TIMMMMEEEE I CAN’T EVEN AHFDFJKSFHKJSFHSKDJHLFKHDSFHLSDFJKLSDHFHSDLKJFHLSJDHFSDHFJSHDJLKFH