Silvers and Reds, two separate races. Silvers have silver-blood running through their veins, while the Reds bleed red blood. The Reds live as poverty stricken commoners under the dictatorship of the Silvers. Their lives are not their own, and they must work as laborers for the Silvers, if you are not employed by the age of eighteen then you are conscripted into the army. Reds are beneath the Silvers because unlike the Silvers they do not possess supernatural abilities, which makes them nearly like gods. The Silvers are superior in this sense. The Silvers have different houses, each house having its own unique ability. The power to control metal elements, water, fire. Mind reading, invisibility, control.
We follow Mare Barrow, a seventeen year old girl struggling to help provide for her family with her fast fingers by way of pick pocketing. Mare's three older brothers have already been conscripted into the army, and Mare is facing the very likely, and all too real, concept that she will be too. When Mare's best friend, Kilorn Warren, is conscripted into the army Mare becomes frantic with the desire to save him. This leads her to the Scarlet Guard, a rebellious society of Reds who have the intention of rising up and fighting back. She must raise enough money to bribe the Scarlet Guard into smuggling them out of the stilts. Mare pick pockets the wrong guy.
Suddenly she is employed under the rule of the king, feeling vaguely relieved that she has escaped the conscripting, but hate filled for the Silvers. Her relief is short lived because events take place during the Queenstrial that reveal that Mare has powers, despite her blood being Red. Because all house's witnessed this shocking change of events the king and queen create a scheme and play Mare off as a long lost Silver who was raised by Reds. Suddenly Mare is declared a princess, and is betrothed to a prince. She is a prisoner, but she now also has inside access to the kingdom ...
Equal parts "The Hunger Games", "Red Rising", and "X-Men".
Because of these very prominent similarities to previous works I felt very conflicted on my enjoyment of the book in general, and how I felt about it. One part of me was a little irked, but the other part of me was throwing my arms up in the air and just not giving a care. I have to admit that I loved this book. It took all the things that I love about the three aforementioned, and incorporated it all into one book! Victoria Aveyard is a spectacular writer.