Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (book two in the Red Queen quartet)
Genres/Descriptors: YA; fantasy; SFF>dystopian
Check it out on Goodreads
What’s it about?
Since this is the second in a series, I won’t spend much time on the descriptive bits.
This one picks up right where Red Queen ended, with Mare and Cal having just narrowly escaped Maven and the other Silvers (thanks to the intervention of the Scarlet Guard).
Mare is on a mission, out to find other sympathizers (Reds and Silvers), as well as other Reds with abilities (New Bloods), like herself. It’s not going to be easy, especially with Maven hunting them and continuing to spread the lies about them.
This book was so polarizing, from what I remember (and what I’ve seen from friend’s reviews). People were either really into it, or seriously let down by it. I fell more into the former camp, thankfully. Something about this series just works for me, I guess. (Maybe it’s because I haven’t read as many of the books this series is compared to as other people.) This might get slightly spoilery, but I’m trying to keep them out.
Mare was kind of a mess in this book, and I liked that. She was under so much pressure, shouldering as much responsibility as she possibly could (especially for tracking down and saving other New Bloods), and I found it believable. She had gone through some shit, and she was not the young Red girl she had been at the beginning of Red Queen. There was a darkness in her, and a fierce determination that might have clouded her judgment at times. I enjoyed that her choices weren’t really clearly right/wrong, and there were consequences. She also might have finally started to understand that maybe she shouldn’t trust so easily.
I can’t seem to articulate some of the things I want to say about her, her actions, and how she was viewed by others. There was that whole martyr thing (which seems to be A Thing with YA dystopian heroines), which was annoying at times, but I also didn’t think she was a monster. I can’t remember for sure now if other characters compared her to a monster, of if she saw herself that way, or what. She knew that the path she was on was not going to be easy, blood would certainly be spilled on both sides, and horrible decisions and sacrifices would have to be made. But she tried, damn it. She tried to save who she could (Reds and Silvers), and she wasn’t as unbothered by the deaths as some of the other characters seemed to think she was.
Cal…Oh man, poor Cal. I just want to hug him. He was betrayed by his brother, forced to kill his father by his stepmother, sentenced to die for that, and then he was basically kidnapped by the Scarlet Guard to be used in whatever way they could find to use him. He could have destroyed them, when they were on the train, but he didn’t. Hell, he even ends up helping them as much as he can. Cal is just not bloodthirsty, and he wants to find a way to resolve everything without death (especially Silver deaths, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled about Reds dying, either). It’s admirable, but honestly kind of unrealistic. Cal: Looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll. (Okay, not exactly, because he is lethal. But he doesn’t want it to come to that, poor dude.)
Maven is vile, and there is no death horrible enough for him. Some of the things he does in this book shocked even me, and I’m not easily shocked. There is nothing redeeming about him, and I want him to suffer every moment of a long, imprisoned life. Then there’s Elara. It’s hard to know how much of what Maven is doing is actually his doing, or something his mother came up with. That doesn’t exactly work in Maven’s favor, because (even if everything is her idea) he still allows it to happen. He’s also super freaking creepy, but I won’t go into that because spoilers, I think.
Romance was not much of a thing in this one, and I appreciated that. While I actually did like the love triangle (square?) in the first book, I was glad to see that romance wasn’t so important in the second book that it overshadowed the seriousness of everything else that was going on. The world was falling apart, they were in the middle of a rebellion, and brooding about their love life was not exactly at the forefront of Mare’s and Cal’s minds. Feelings were not entirely ignored, but not a ton of time was spent brooding.
We got to see a lot more of the world in this one, as well as finding out more about the Scarlet Guard, and I loved that. This one was also action-packed, and the pace was never very slow. There was always something to worry about, and I think I actually held my breath a few times while reading particularly intense scenes.
The New Bloods are awesome. We meet several in this book, and I loved the abilities we learned about. I feel like Victoria Aveyward had to be influenced by X-Men (I made that comparison in my review of Red Queen, and I’m not the only one), and I’m not complaining about it. While the abilities of the Silvers are seriously cool, I’m way more excited by the New Bloods, I think.
The last few chapters of this one…ouch. Things happened, some of it good overall, but it was not painless.
I ended up rating this one the same as Red Queen, with 4 out of 5 stars.