Trigger Warning: contains some scenes of graphic violence and torture. PG-13
This is my review for the second book of the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. Do not read this review if you have not read the previous book, as this review contains spoilers from the previous book. To see my review of Red Queen, click here.
If I thought Red Queen was “sweet” torture–you know, the kind of book that is really bad for your emotional stability but so addictive that you can’t help but want to keep reading it–then Glass Sword was, simply put, pure devastation. This book wrecked me, left emotional scars that will take a long time to heal, and made me have trust issues. Victoria Aveyard does not pull any punches, so if you are planning on picking this book up, readers beware: you are in for abrasive, ruthless protagonists, a violent psychopathic antagonist, and of course let’s not forget the disastrous fates of some beloved characters from the previous book.
No one is born evil, just like no one is born alone. They become that way, through choice and circumstance.
Writing: Personally, I felt that the writing style changed a lot in this book compared to the previous one. The narration was just as exciting and full of suspense, but this time it was darker, grittier and much more serious and less sarcastic than before. Which was perfect, because after the events of the last book, I did expect this book to be a lot more complex in terms of its mood. What I didn’t expect that the storytelling would feel so real–in every sentence, in every line, I felt Mare’s pain and suffering as she tried to cope with the tragedies that had happened just hours before. Even more interestingly, as the story progresses, the narration becomes even darker to show our protagonist’s struggle with PTSD, and it was portrayed spectacularly. Although Glass Sword is in the fantasy/dystopia genre, PTSD was so accurately depicted here despite not being the main focus of the book that I couldn’t help but think about war veterans and sympathize with them for all the things that they had to endure. I know that war veterans are not the only ones who suffer from PTSD, but I mention them here because Mare’s PTSD was not only a result of Maven’s betrayal but also from the countless battles she has to fight throughout the book.
And my god, these battle scenes, were so carefully described. The way Victoria Aveyard describes each event and slowly unfolds the story had me dreading and anticipating the very last page. Intense, thrilling and gripping, the writing style in Glass Sword just shows how talented the author is at engaging her readers with an action packed, swoon-worthy story.
Characters: One of my favorite things about this series is the well rounded, well developed cast of characters. I made my love for Mare as a protagonist clear in the previous book, and watching her grow and change in this book was truly heart breaking for me. As someone who was leading a war against the reigning monarch and being framed as a terrorist, she had to make cruel, and often borderline inhuman choices for the greater good of her people. What I loved most about her in this book was that even though making these difficult choices haunted her, she was still fearless and determined to save her people, the newbloods from Maven and Elara.
But there are friends I would trade, lives I would forsake, for my own victories. I’ve done it before. It isn’t hard to let people die when their deaths give life to something else.
And while she did put her own life at risk as well, I loved that she was very realistic about her decisions, such as understanding that she was too important in the cause to be killed, without being arrogant about her self-worth.
I’m worth more than the rest, more than red masks and bandages. Shade and I must survive–if not for the cause, then for the others. For the list of hundreds like us–hybrids, anomalies, freaks, Red-and-Silver impossibilities–who will surely die if we fail.
As for her feelings about Maven, well I couldn’t sympathize with her more. It is very clear that she was deeply in love with him, and his betrayal changed her. While she knew very well that he had to die, that he should die, and was more than determined to kill him herself, she was still grieving over the person she thought he was.
Somehow the person who never existed haunts me, worse than the rest of my ghosts.
That being said there were several times when I couldn’t help but be irritated at Mare, especially at her lack of concern regarding her family. There were several times when she was so focused on the mission at hand that she forgot that her brothers were not just soldiers too, that they were her brothers and they were always looking after her. Despite what she was going through, I couldn’t forgive her for this one thing, and I thought it was extremely selfish of her.
Cal’s situation in this book was a very tricky one–on one hand, while he wasn’t prejudiced against the Reds, he was still in his heart allied with Silvers because they were his kin. On other hand, if he did not help the Reds he wouldn’t be able to fight Maven and avenge his father’s death. Although he was loyal to Mare without a fault, it was pretty clear that if he had a choice he would choose the Silvers even though he was aware of the crimes they committed against the Reds. This strained his already tenuous relationship with Mare and makes me wonder where he would stand if the Reds were ever in a position of power and authority.
I refuse to say anything about Maven except that he dives so deep into madness in order to get Mare that he is now beyond redemption, that the things he does in this book are unforgivable even to me, and only those who had been there while I was reading this book knew how deeply I loved him and how I was shipping him with Mare (and myself). Well. Not anymore. Even though it breaks my heart, I cannot, and will not, no matter how much a sick part of me hopes that he is redeemable and thus lovable, condone him for the things he does. But I still hopelessly and shamelessly love him. God, it hurts just to think of him.
Victoria Aveyard are you even aware of the pain you have inflicted on your readers? Are you?
The other characters were incredible too, and this includes the newly introduced the characters as well. As I read this book the list of people I cared about grew–from Mare’s adorable brother Shade to the elderly yet sassy shapeshifter Nanny. The supporting characters in this novel were very real, and had very important roles to play and I found myself invested in their well being as I read on.
Plot: Plot-wise there was a lot of things happening in this novel, which made the book feel longer than it was, but not in a boring way. The pacing was perfect, fast where it needed to be and slow during certain parts. There’s way more politics, suspense and planning dangerous missions than in the first book which made reading it all the more exciting. As I mentioned before, the action scenes were very well planned and detailed to perfection, and as for the plot twists, once again they did not come the way I expected them to.
The romance in Red Queen was very underrated and Glass Sword was no different. That being said, I often felt that Mare’s feelings for Cal were more out of her own loneliness than anything else, and after the way she’d changed in the events of the novel I truly cannot see her with anyone, even him. Which is a realistic in a sense: who has time for love when they are busy saving the world?
Another thing that I loved about the plot was those rare but sweet scenes between Mare and her family. I loved the way her parents and siblings supported her throughout everything, and the tenderness that they showed towards her really touched my heart. I wish more YA books focused on the families of the protagonists. While I wouldn’t say that Mare’s family came often in the story, but when they did come their relationship with Mare was something that I couldn’t help but adore.
Ending: Note to my readers who loved Red Queen and want to pick up Glass Sword, please keep a stressball and a box of tissues near you when you are almost at the end. The ending came so unexpectedly and was so horrifying that I needed a therapy of sweet sugary treats and deep fried food to help me cope with my grief. In fact, one of the reasons why I have been delaying writing this review was because I was too full of feels to write anything coherent without being a sobbing wretched mess.
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely, if you feel brave enough for a very dark read with almost no romance to make things lighter. Which book made you feel heartbroken and shell-shocked for days? Recommend me some books that will wreck havoc on my emotions in the comments below.
Waiting eagerly for King’s Cage like–
Hey guys! Sorry for being MIA for a while. I was supposed to post this review last Saturday as per my posting schedule but I couldn’t get around to it because I was busy prepping for Eid-ul-Adha which is tomorrow! Which is why I will not be posting tomorrow either. Hope you guys have a great week. Eid Mubarak everyone (in advance).