I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
The YA dystopian genre is a busy one, but when I read Red Queen last year I really felt Victoria Aveyard had bought something new and a little different to the market. Unfortunately, reading Glass Sword, I didn’t feel that as much.
Glass Sword feels very different to Red Queen, and the disparity between the novels took some getting used to. Red Queen is spent mainly in the confines of the palace – a setting I loved – as Mare learns about her abilities and the reader learns about the disparities of the dystopian world. Glass Sword takes place all over the fictional world Aveyard has created. There’s very little prelude and the reader is thrown straight into the heart of the action. Mare has been betrayed and cast out by the silver royalty, and so sets out to build an army of ‘newbloods’ like herself – people with red blood and powerful silver abilities. She travels with exiled prince Cal, her childhood friend Kilorn and captain of the Scarlet Guard Farley to recruit members from the list given to her by SIlver trainer Julian.
It did feel as if Aveyard had taken a big jump from the simmering discontent felt in the first novel to what almost feels like out-right war. We’re suddenly all over the place, and are expected to just go along for the ride with little actually explanation of where we’re going or why we are going there. There is a lot of travelling to places I previously knew nothing about, and each place isn’t really explored in much detail, which all made a feeling of disorientation overall.
One aspect of the novel which did entice me was the newbloods. Each has a different ability – from creating illusions to teleporting to killing on touch – the team recruit a myriad of colourful characters each with a uniquely powerful tool to contribute to the inevitable battle. I loved some of the recruiting and training scenes – it all felt very Xmen First Class, which is no bad thing. But I do wish some of the other newbloods’ characters and stories had been explored a little more, to give us a little more context and insight into what it could be like living with inexplicable, uncontrollable, powerful abilities.
This book is really all about Mare, ‘the lightning girl’ and I have really mixed feelings about her voice. She definitely draws empathy, but at times I struggled to understand her decisions, and I felt pretty indifferent towards her romance with Cal and her confused feeling for her previous betrothed, Maven.
There is solid writing in this book, Aveyard really captures the essence of some of the action scenes, making for some heart-in-mouth moments. I think Glass Sword may just be suffering from a bit of a second-in-series syndrome; it’s at an in-between stage in the story between the introduction and the final battle, it takes more of a focus on character and world-building than actual plot development and it definitely doesn’t help that the main villain of the piece is barely present. But the end of the novel makes up for this somewhat, and the last book in this series has serious potential. Aveyard has set us up for what could be a truly epic finale, and I’ll definitely be picking it up when it comes out next year.