The world in this book consists of two types of people, red bloods and silver bloods. The red bloods are the commoners and serfs who are looked down upon by the silver bloods. The silver bloods have special powers. Mare Barrow is a 17 year old red blood who steals from other people to help her poor family out. Her family doesn't approve of what she does and she feels like she has let them down because she has no talents or skills with which to earn money. Her younger sister is the one in the family who they have their hopes pinned on. She is apprenticed to a seamstress and has the potential to one day do well for herself and her family.
All reds get conscripted into the war unless they have a job and those are hard to come by unless you have a marketable skill and someone to train you. Unless a person is well trained they usually die in the war, and her friend has been a fisherman's apprentice until that fisherman dies unexpectedly. Mare sets out to help him before he is conscripted. What happens after this is what sets the whole story moving in a different direction, one that leads to Mare finding out something about herself that could possibly save her people.
My friends have given Red Queen mixed reviews. Some have really loved it, others not so much. I ended up really loving it. I found it extremely hard to put down. I typically don't care for dystopias that much, but this one read like a fantasy. I initially thought it was going to be an old world type fantasy so I was surprised at the mention of electricity and vehicles and air ships. It was like reading a fantasy with modern elements to it, which doesn't always work for me, but here it did.
There were lots of betrayals in this book and a twist that I saw coming from pretty much the beginning, but there was a time while reading that I questioned whether or not I was right about it. There were a couple of times I thought Mare should have trusted and listened to Julian more. And she should have been given more information about certain people earlier on. This was one aspect of the story that annoyed me.
Also, there were a couple of things the Red Guard did that didn't make a lot of sense to me. If they were going to sneak into the palace and assassinate people, why not just kill the royal family? I also thought it was really far-fetched that they would trust one of the royal family .
I think the book would have gotten 5 stars from me if not for those things. Mostly I loved it and it was a nice escape for me. I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series.