Red Queen

Red Queen Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Victoria Aveyard

Victoria Aveyard became interested in writing at a very young age. During her childhood in Massachusetts, she read and watched a wide variety of fantasy works; she cites Harry Potter, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings, and Lost as works that have influenced her. She eventually decided to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. Soon after graduating, she published Red Queen, which is the first in a quartet of novels all set in the same fantasy universe.
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Historical Context of Red Queen

Aveyard began writing Red Queen in 2012, at the end of the Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave in North Africa and the Middle East. The wave was led by protestors advocating for more democratic governments in their respective countries. Many longstanding regimes throughout the region were toppled between 2010 and 2012. The uncertainty of what will come after revolution that characterizes Red Queen has thus played out in the real world in the wake of the Arab Spring. Most of the involved countries have since been engaged in ongoing struggles to implement democratic governments. Some refer to these struggles as the “Arab Winter.” Although Aveyard published her novel in 2015, the anxieties of her characters also dovetail with the national anxieties in the United States in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Mare’s refrain of “anyone can betray anyone” seems apt to describe the specter of mistrust and corruption that looms over the shift in power from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.

Other Books Related to Red Queen

Red Queen bears some resemblance to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, not least because both works are contemporary young adult fantasy novels narrated by their talented, unique female protagonists. Like Red Queen, Collins’ trilogy uses a fantasy setting and to interrogate questions of politics, power, and social injustice. Similarly, George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (and its hugely successful TV adaptation, Game of Thrones) also features a fantastical setting and a plot of duplicitous power-plays, violent manipulations, and severe social inequality. Also relevant to Aveyard’s novel is Charles Darwin’s 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s work is widely considered the foundation of evolutionary biology, but it also gave widespread rise to the attitude that people’s abilities and fitness for prosperity are determined by their biology. Darwin’s work was used throughout the Victorian era and beyond to justify social inequality and projects of ethnic cleansing, the likes of which Aveyard depicts occurring also in the Kingdom of Norta.
Key Facts about Red Queen
  • Full Title: Red Queen
  • When Written: 2012
  • Where Written: Western Massachusetts
  • When Published: 2015
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Fantasy Novel, Young Adult Fiction
  • Setting: The fantasy kingdom of Norta
  • Climax: Maven turns against Cal and their father, revealing that he has been scheming with the queen to stage a coup. Mare realizes that by pretending to want justice for the Reds, Maven has used her in order to gain power for himself.
  • Antagonist: Maven Calore, Queen Elara
  • Point of View: First-person present, from Mare Barrow’s perspective

Extra Credit for Red Queen

Revolution on the big screen. Universal Pictures has optioned the novel as of 2018 and plans to produce a film version directed by Elizabeth Banks—who, incidentally, also starred in the movie adaptations of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Social media citizen. Victoria Aveyard has an active Twitter presence, through which she corresponds with fans. She also shares and comments on political news, emphasizing not only her characters’ investment but also her own investment in politics and social justice.