I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
This book has gotten so much press. I might’ve understood it back in 2012, when the themes it bought to the table would’ve been fresh and original.
I am just bored of tropes like this. It seems like Red Queen followed this recipe I found in How to Create a Bestselling YA Book at the Let Your Cat Piss on It section ( a very popular genre) at the bargain bookstore the other day. Don’t believe me, here’s the recipe. I annotated it, so that the comparison to Red Queen is even more obvious. However, unless, Aveyard wrote her name inside the book I don’t think it would’ve been more obvious:
How to Create a Six Figure Best Selling YA Dystopia/Fantasy that Relies Heavily on X-Men (Because Stan Lee Has Never Steered the Honest Dollar Wrong)
1) Introduce Special Main Character: Remember, your character is special. Use a name that is truly unique–meaning, one no one in their right mind would name their child said name. Celebrities have already used the name Apple and North, so try to be more original. Suggested names-Gator, Viagra, or Dogsby. Please note, you might want to use theme names.
The author of Red Queen took this advice by using horse names. Alas, there is no Mr. Ed.
You’re main character should come from the masses. The poor class. Give her a family. Try to give the family a challenge that means they can’t be together. This will add to conflict and a possible McGuffin quest.
Early on in the book (or very late in the book) you need to show your character is special. It’s usually suggested you use a life or death situation to show off her powers. Give her a drippy friend or sibling to save also does the trick as well. Or you could always rely on the power of true love. Also, make sure the powers are amazing like they’re Storm on X-Men.
Red Queen uses a drippy best friend to be the catalyst of the plot. We don’t see much of him after the main character lays her ass on the line. But we do get Storm like powers or maybe they’re more like Cyclops? Hmm, no Rouge powers though. Weird since that’s what these books usually try to go for.
2) Introduce Hot Unattainable Male:
You have to show how he’s unattainable this is usually done with half ass world building. Is he a prince? Is he otherwise occupied? Is he hot? Of course, he’s hot. Make sure you mention his eyes and abs lots and lots.
This novel is an excellent example of step two. We know all about Cal’s eyes and that he’s crown prince and therefore unattainable. His personality, however lacks development.
They need to have an instant connection so that unattainableness stings more. It’s often in this part of the book that you should introduce the Hot Bad Boy or the Other Guy. The result of the introduction of the love interests should be like this Youtube video.
Aveyard, actually handles this trope in a mildly interesting way. So, I’m not going to be mocking it (much). Alas,there is no song and dance number after realizing boys were going to be in the book.
3) It’s time for a plot:
But what plot?
I don’t know, watch some X-Men. A couple of episodes of that should give you an idea of what your with. Issues such as change, all that stuff Spiderman’s uncle is preaching about, and prejudice can be talked about. Remember, you’re writing a dystopia so you can exert these problems on the world as well, not just a bigoted congressman.
Don’t stress out too much about the world building. You’ll get loss in the details. Who cares, about explaining the origin of certain aspects of plot.
It’s just cool looking/sounding.
I.E. Silver Blood. We never get an origin story. Even the lamest characters in X-Men have origin stories.
4) End with an Amazing Cliffie:
This is going to be how you get your paycheck the next go around, so make the ending ah-mazing and make up for any flaws in the book.
If I wouldn’t be a prudent reader Aveyard would’ve done this.
So, yeah. It followed this recipe perfectly. The thing about Red Queen is that I could see it having an audience. I’m just not the right audience for it.