Top critical review
A masterful crafting of plot, but suffered with pacing. Still captivated my imagination.
13 September 2018
Actual rating 3.5 stars.
It's not like ‘Red Queen’ where I was fascinated by the world of Norta and the novelty of Silvers and their X-Men like abilities. With this I find long chapters of inner musings about the past, ponderings on strategic moves for gains in war and politics. And while interesting, after a while I became a little bored.
We get more mixed perspectives in ‘King’s Cage,’ Mare, Evangeline, Cameron, and as much as each narrative added something to the plot, they were similar in tone. I found myself wishing for a different style of words and sentence structure to really separate the voices. If not for the description and characters around them (and the title headings) I would not know who’s perspective I was reading. I had enjoyed the single narrative and pacing of ‘Red Queen,’ With ‘King’s Cage’ comparatively the pacing felt slow from the changing perspectives adding extra “mess.” The varying perspectives could have been used as a tool to pump in some action and entice the reader with mini cliff hangers... which it did to some extent, but I wasn’t sold.
Much like Mare's prisoner routine - it felt repetitive and didn't go anywhere.
As much as I love Mare, the strong, downtrodden protagonist. The lightning girl. A red. This wasn’t the book for her to shine. This felt more like a middle book in a trilogy where all the pieces on the chess board are being moved into place for the final battle. I didn’t get any resolution. And I felt as though Mare didn’t develop so much, more like she suffered through challenges. For a hot second I thought things were going to get really interesting for her when she started training her abilities which exceeded what she had accomplished in the past with Cal, but it kind of fizzled out (pun intended.) Though I hope it’s a promise of something really cool to come in the fourth book, ‘War Storm.’
Maven is a bit of a mixed bucket of nuts for me, both literally and figuratively. While we get his backstory to drag out some compassion and understanding; he really rubbed me the wrong way. And even though he is pretty evil, I don’t see him as the “big bad” of the Red Queen universe. I have a few predictions and am keen to find out what happens next. Plus you get a strong sense that Maven is always playing a strategic game, figuring out multiple moves ahead.
Cal was just as confusing – as mentioned, all of their voices were hard to distinguish if not for the chapter titles. But I felt less engaged and frustrated with the political drama. I was praying for action and powers flying about. Cal is painted with different strokes in ‘King’s Cage.’ Aveyard lets crack appear and exploits them beautifully. Mare has a lot on her plate with this King-to-be.
Cameron - why was her perspective even here? To add background information to the story? *confused face*
The snarky dialogue wasn't even that entertaining any more. It wasn't funny, more like a sullen teenager’s lame attempt at annoying someone. I hope Aveyard isn’t losing her touch.
With a slow pace, long paragraphs of cast members not in the action, but in the periphery, it all had me putting the book down frequently. But just as I was starting to get bored, things switched gear at the halfway point and I started to get all the bits and pieces I was craving – Mare and all the abilities in one big clusterbang! Whoo-hoo!
A few Easter eggs are thrown our way in ‘King’s Cage’ and I am really eager to get all the answers and read an explosive end to this collection in the last instalment due out 15th May, 2018. Evangaline, and Cal suddenly got way more interesting in ‘King’s Cage’ and I am eager to see where the story takes us. *drumming my fingers in impatient anticipation*
The plot and story itself is still something I find enrapturing. I love the battling factions, the tone of discrimination and apartheid. Rebel forces fighting against an unfair regime. And don’t get me started on paranormal abilities! It is all so intriguing. The politics can be fun too, although it started to feel long-winded and dragged down in my opinion of this series. But it is certainly leading up to a very interesting position for the finale.
I don’t know how to comment on the predictability of the novel though – as very little was resolved. Yes, things happened that I expected, there was a twist or two that you knew was coming, but I didn’t get any massive ‘oh shiz’ moment when I got to the end. Honourable mention to Evangaline though – a few scenes with her really blew my mind, she is definitely my favourite character for this book and added the much needed tension.
There is definitely a lot of work Aveyard has done in weaving this storyline. It is truly an amazing feat of beauty.
The writing style is still fantastic. The descriptive turn of phrase, the analogies, are rich and drip with colour and meaning. I’m still impressed with Aveyard’s writing style, the symbolism she uses feels unique and helps create an accurate picture of the Red Queen world. However with the pacing issues, I put down ‘King’s Cage’ a number of times due to wandering interest. It wasn’t that I was bored, or found the story no longer captured my imagination, just that the plot did not move forward. In all honesty, if this book was half its length, I feel it would have been extraordinary. But as it stands, I have to say I had very little compulsion from one chapter to the next throughout most of the novel.