In Red Queen, the reds (those with red blood and without super special powers) live lives filled with toil and strife while the Silvers (those with silver blood and crazy powers) follow the king and queen on an endless tour of leisure and parties. Mare is on the edge of seventeen and that doesn't mean she gets to spend a year rocking out to Stevie Nicks - it means conscription to fight the war that has already taken three of her brothers. In a strange twist of fate, she ends up working in the royal palace and a life-threatening situation reveals that she has more power than she ever imagined.
I will admit, I was cautious to start this one, I have never been the biggest fan of fantasy and I was a little nervous that this would be like the great Graceling fiasco (cliffnotes version: tried to read it 4 times, quit every time. BLECH!) but, after reading, this isn't that high on the fantasy meter and the whole "talent" thing was pretty interesting. In fact, the families having the same powers and some powers being less effective against others (water beats fire) totally reminded me of pokemon types.
I do wish we had been able to spend a bit more time getting to know the different types of powers. I could have used a legend in the back to remind me what types does what (did this end up in the final version? I had an advance ebook...).
Full disclosure - there was a love triangle of sorts, but it didn't overwhelm the story and didn't quite end the way you expected - refreshing, I know. And there was a bit of whole "every girl hates me and every boy loves me" thing going on. I'm hoping that we will get less of this as the series continues. Mare is a decent character, very naive and willing to believe practically anything. For someone who grew up as a thief in a pretty rough situation I was very surprised at how trusting she was. I kept questioning the motives of everyone around her but she seemed to believe everything that she was told. It was almost like she had no idea she was in the middle of a YA novel. I liked her much more at the end, once she learned some valuable life lessons, than I did at the beginning. The other characters aren't all that interesting, unless they are using their powers and I wasn't really sold on the romance element.
The plot was fast paced and suspenseful where it needed to be. I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for the inevitable Final Showdown scene at the end. There were one or two plot twists which were a surprise but others that were pretty predictable to anyone who has read YA before. But it was still enough to keep me interested and get me hooked.