Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2015)
I went into this with very high hopes, because I heard such positive glowing reviews from others. And it was good, but I didn't love it as much as everyone else apparently does.
I liked that the plot revolves around realistic power politics. Despite the supernatural powers, it's really about one group being in power and another group's secret force who wants to overthrow them. So many lies and betrayals!
Which brings me to the characters. You don't know who to trust, just as Mare doesn't know who to trust. She has to just decide when to risk it and when to hold her tongue. These are complications situations and I just don't know what I'd do in her position. Sometimes I thought she and the Scarlet Guard were being too reckless. Winning power for the underclass is a worthy cause, but if you screw up, everyone gets punished.
Still, some things didn't make sense to me. When the royal family tells Mare she is to live with them, Mare makes demands to which the family immediately acquiesces, though she's in no position to bargain. Late in the book there were some big decisions to be made that would affect the future of the kingdom. Actions were taken based on one person presumably loving another enough to betray everything they believed in, and it really didn't make sense in the context. I may have actually rolled my eyes at this point (though ultimately I liked how it was all resolved.)
I'm not gonna lie: I liked the last dystopia I read much better. (That was Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow.) This one just somehow wasn't quite fresh and new enough for me. It's got a good, strong female protagonist and lots of high-stakes drama so I can see the appeal and certainly wouldn't caution anyone against picking it up. I enjoyed it well enough while I was reading it, but now that I'm done it's just not sticking with me and I'm ready to move on.