What a great premise Red Queen has! And even more importantly, what a very good execution for the story. Sometimes great premises get lost but Red Queen delivers. Almost entirely, with only a few minor bumps.
The story: Set in a world where people are divided and called by two different kinds of blood, Mare sees her life going nowhere. Mare's blood is Red, so she's assigned a life of servitude (if she's lucky enough to get a job) or enforced conscription into the nation's war (as her three older brothers have found themselves). The "other half" is made up of Silver blood, giving them not only nobility and/or preferred jobs, but a super power as well. Mare knows her time is up and she's months away from being sent as a soldier since she doesn't have a skill that will earn her a job, which is bad enough; then her friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is just days away from being sent to fight. Desperate, Mare goes to an undercover operative named Farley for help; one thing leads to another but life becomes even worse. When an encounter with a wealthy stranger leads to a job within the Palace, Mare hopes her fortunes are changing...until a fall that should kill her leads to her display of astonishing electrical power. Caught as a Red with a power, the royal family moves quickly to cover it up by giving Mare a new identity as a royal, turning her life upside down and inside out. But underneath it all, she's still Red...and determined to help her fellow Reds. No matter what the cost.
There's so much more going on, including an *almost* love quadrangle between Mare, Kilorn, and the two royal princes. Mare has to both deny everything she's ever known or ever been, and embrace her new life as a member of the Silvers in such a way as to cast no doubt that she belongs among them. There's a secret organization that is working to bring down the Silvers who have basically held the Reds as slaves forever, and Mare makes many, many mistakes along the way. There's a theme that gets repeated throughout: Anyone can betray anyone, and it's true with deadly consequences.
Problems? A few, but not overwhelming. Mare is headstrong yet in over her head; she's an outcast and a leader who is learning to cope with a power that is not only unknown among the Reds but possibly even among the Silvers. I did get annoyed because it's fairly easy to figure out what's going to happen but Mare can't, or won't, see it. There is also more than a few coincidences, something that bugs me in any novel. I did think the parts where Mare is learning how to be Silver dragged at times, but most of the slow parts are setting up bigger action later on. And one more thing...possible spoiler so stop reading now...one character seriously reminded me of King Joffrey of Game of Thrones fame by the time the book was done. In fact, that's the only person I could picture as the last major action took place. Kinda over the top.
Red Queen is really good, with a likable main character and an excellent plot that is revealed to be multi-layered. Of course it ends on a cliffhanger, and it's a big one. I'm eager to find out where we're going and how the evil villains will be brought down. This book kept me so entertained that I stayed up much later than I should have a few nights just to see what happened next. It's really a solid 4.75 on the Amazon rating scale.
On a side note...I adore the cover! Whoever created it deserves major props. Very intriguing and just the right amount of gory beauty.