Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Young Adult Literature Book Review

Teaching Red Queen presents many opportunities.

Students will read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Here is why I have several copies of this dystopian young adult literature in my classroom library. 

Overall, most students enjoy dystopian young adult literature. Red Queen is an engaging book that is similar to The Hunger Games and other stories with love triangles. The dystopian world is different from other worlds, however, because the different sides literally have different colored blood. Teaching Red Queen opens opportunities for rich discussions. 

Read my young adult literature book review below, download my freebies for this novel, and then add it t your classroom library or dystopian lit circles.

Plot (spoilers!)

Mare Barrow lives in a divided country: Reds and Silvers. Poor workers have “red blood,” and royal rich people have “silver blood.” To further torture the Reds, the Silvers possess supernatural abilities. These elite Silvers can control people’s thoughts, manage fire, and disappear.

Our heroine, a sassy Red, secures a position at the castle as a worker. She fumbles and in front of cameras and Silvers, showcases an unknown ability. How can this be? Only Reds have abilities!

To cover, the royal family creates an elaborate story that Mare is a long-lost princess. She becomes engaged to a prince, even though she might have a crush on his brother, and even though she might sorta (almost, kinda) like a guy from her hometown. As Mare contributes to a rebellion, kisses boys, and learns royal protocol, she must decide her future while dodging traitors.

Classroom Library

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is part of a series. I have all of the books in my classroom library, and some students read all of them. Certain students will gravitate toward this series.

Students who enjoy mysteries, complex plots, and “light” sci-fi will read Red Queen. Plus, while teaching Red Queen, you can discuss tropes and common features in dystopian literature. Aveyard’s book involves a commoner turned princess, multiple love stories, a fanatically cruel queen, and an intense love story.

High school students who enjoyed The Hunger Games series will enjoy Red Queen. Both books share similar setup and characterization. Mare parallels Katniss in their gruff demeanors and attitudes toward family and love. Recommend Red Queen to students who read The Hunger Games in middle school.

If the book is in your classroom library already, add it to dystopian lit circles. My free discuss prompts will work with small groups.

Finally, this story might draw more female readers than males, but my male students read this series, too. King Tiberias has two sons with two queens (the first queen mysteriously had an accident), and the brothers struggle with their feelings with the family complexities. Other males go to war and struggle with friendships.

Teaching Red Queen provides plenty of learning opportunities. In this dystopian young adult literature, high school ELA teacher offers advice and ideas for teaching Red Queen.

Teaching Red Queen

Students will read Red Queen and analyze the characters. They will have fun debating about Mare’s boyfriends and wondering about new abilities. Aveyard created numerous characters to despise, a dystopian world with a fantasy-twist, and memorable lines. Students will live in this world.

As you teach, you’ll see opportunities to discuss social stratification, cultural beliefs, and power dynamics. No matter if you use Red Queen as a whole-class novel, as part of lit circles, or as a dystopian novel in your classroom library, you will get students reading with this book.

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Freebie! Download these free discussion cards and posters for Red Queen.

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