Well, color me impressed. This was far better than I thought it would be.
I read Red Queen back in 2015, and you know what? I hated it. It was the worst book I read that year. I don’t know why it was that I then decided to read the sequel, Glass Sword. Surprisingly, I actually liked the sequel. So, due to a terrible curiosity, I read King’s Cage, and I was honestly impressed.
I don’t know what it was about this book, but I was hooked into it. I cannot believe that I am going to say this, but I honestly cannot wait for the last book in this series to come out.
The thing I hated more in the last two books was the main character, Mare Barrow. Second only perhaps to America Singer, Mare Barrow is the most annoying, pretentious, self-righteous female protagonist to have ever been written. The thing that might possibly make Mare worse than America is that she stupidly sent people to fight and die for her self-righteous cause. What I like in this book that not only is Mare called out on her bullshit, but she manages to grow out of it. Sort of.
In this book, we get so much information on the rebellion and on the silver families of Norta and their abilities. More than that, we get some serious character development. Aveyard was just throwing character depth at everyone. Mare gets development. Maven gets development. Evangeline gets developments. They all get development!
I really enjoyed seeing deeper into the characters as I believe that characters are what make a book good, even more so than plot. Mare is still not my favorite, in fact, I still kind of hate her and think she’s a little immature, but Maven and Evangeline stole the show for me. Cameron too.
I loved seeing deeper into Maven’s mind, seeing his motivations and how and why he does the things he does. I was honestly moved by his story and I think that Aveyard did a fantastic job of creating a sympathetic character without excusing his actions. His and Mare’s relationship is not romantic and I don’t understand how people still see it as such. Their relationship is much more complicated than that. They want each other dead, they want each other to suffer, and yet they cannot let go of one another, not because of love but because of other, more complex things.
We also see a lot more of the background characters. this isn’t the Mare show where everyone is there to make her look good, we actually get to see the lives of others and how they contribute to the cause. We also get shown bits of Cal’s flaws. He’s a good guy, but he’s not perfect, and Aveyard lets us know it. For the life of him, that boy can’t choose a side, a thing for which I don’t blame him. It is hard to let go of who you were raised to be, hard to leave the past and start on an uncharted sea. Also, the Silvers were humanized in the book, they aren’t just the ‘oppressing other’. Not all Silvers are evil and not all Reds are good, and I liked that we saw that conflict in both Cal and some of the Reds.
Another thing I liked was seeing Mare come to term with her past and look back at her actions and the consequences they had. It was good to watch her reflect on what she had done and how she had messed up. Watching her battle with PTSD was also very interesting to watch. I hate when YA books graze over a character’s past actions and sufferings. This book focused a lot on bringing these things to light, which I appreciated.
There were so many things in this book that I just loved. I would never have guessed that would like this book as much as I did. Also, who would have guessed that Evangeline Samos would now be my favorite character? Her POV chapters were absolutely my favorite. Had this entire series been written from her point of view, it would have been amazing.
Aveyard’s writing has also greatly improved since Red Queen. The words flow much smoother, and the descriptions are much more clear. Also, she has mastered the art of writing battle scenes. They were honestly the most intense moments in this book. I both read and listened to different parts and when I was listening to the fight scenes, especially the one near the end, I was hooked, listening to the narrator describe this epic battle. If this keeps up, Victoria Aveyard might actually end up on my favorite’s list.
One last thing, there were so many little nods to other YA authors here, and I just loved it. I was listening to a part that had the line, “Caz, Brecker, with us!” and I had to replay that part like four times to see if I heard Kaz Brekker’s name. I had to open up the book to see what was written there. I couldn’t help but smile. There are also a lot of other little things that I’ll leave you to figure out.
Anyway, in the end, I am so glad I continued with this series. After having rated Red Queen only one star, I am glad that curiosity drove me to keep reading. I look forward to the dramatic conclusion.
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