I was hesitant to read yet another YA novel about a young woman thrust into a new, impossible situation (mostly because I’m fairly certain that’s almost all of what I’ve read so far this year) but I was so happy with this one. Which is weird to say now, because up until the last few chapters or so, I was beginning to wonder why everyone loved this book so much.
(Spoiler alert: I didn’t LOVE LOVE it, at least not upon first finishing it (maybe it’ll grow on me if I think about it more, also OOH parenthesis inside of parenthesis WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE) but I did like it enough to put the sequel on hold at the library. So there’s that. After Uprooted, I seem to have been reading books that are entertaining but not like, I MUST DO NOTHING ELSE BUT READ THIS BOOK UNTIL THIS BOOK IS OVER which is kind of disappointing. Alas. That so often happens after finishing a book you capital heart eyes love also, NO, I don’t know what that means.)
Our heroine is Mare, a quick-fingered, sure-footed seventeen-year-old, who is biding her time until she’s sent off to war. She is a Red, meaning she has red blood, and Reds all serve the Silvers, those who have silver blood. Silvers are all gifted with some sort of special ability, like telekinesis or mind-reading or super-strength. Since they have these “superior” abilities, they rule the world like royalty. Reds live in poverty and, if they don’t have some sort of marketable skill for labor, they’re shipped off to war when they turn 17. Mare is just biding her time, waiting to be called up to serve, until she meets the mysterious Cal one evening. She tries to steal from him and, in turn, he ends up saving her from war by getting her a job at the castle.
This turns complicated when Mare displays some remarkable abilities during the Queenstrial, a competition where the daughters of high born families compete for the honor of marrying one of the royal princes. The younger prince, Maren, lives in the shadow of his older brother (who turns out to be a familiar face but NO SPOILERS). Mare finds herself in the middle of a bunch of court intrigue and finds that she’s poorly equipped for it.
I’m still not sure how to rate this book, so I’d go with a solid 3.5 maaaaaybe 4. While I was reading it, I found it well-written and entertaining, though I did find some of the back and forth of Mare’s feelings toward the older prince to be a bit jarring. I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, though, because she’s 17, thrown into a crazy situation, and everyone keeps lying to her or hiding the truth from her.
I do have one not-so-minor quibble that is rather spoiler-y. So skip this bit if you care. Huge plot points hinge on Mare being able to hide certain things from everyone, which would normally be a pretty standard problem in these types of books. But hiding things becomes more difficult in this one because the younger prince’s mother is a mind-reader (and controller). Mare luckily (and often!) is able to slip things by the queen because there seems to be no rhyme or reason to when the queen will read and control Mare’s mind.
Now, to be fair, by the end this is all explained and wrapped up nicely but it drove me bonkers as I was reading it.
Still, like I said, I look forward to reading more about this world so JOKE’S ON ME I GUESS.