War Storm, Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

Hello humans! It is finally time to review War Storm, the final book in the Red Queen series, which I had the fun of binge reading last year. Those who follow me on Twitter may recall that this book was part of my ‘book a day in June’ challenge and I actually ended up having to read this entire six hundred page hardback in a day. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the end of it! It was good to reach the end of this series, however, and now it is over and we’re seeing some similar titles start to pop up, it’s good to have a look at the conclusion to this much-loved series.

war storm

Goodreads Summary:

Victory comes at a price.
Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.
War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?
In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

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I find it interesting, reaching the end of this series, although I read the first three last year, Red Queen first published in early 2015. When you think of the books that had come before, in 2010-2015 for example, the books that shaped what then got published for the next few years. Books like The Lunar Chronicles were first released, Throne of Glass was getting into the swing of things, The Mortal Instruments were huge, The Divergent series came to an end, there are so many more examples but let’s leave that there for now. What I’m saying is that these kinds of ‘yes women are lead characters and they are assassins and engineers and they kick butt’. Obviously, a lot of that was still leading from trends set in other popular YA trilogies (cough Hunger Games cough) but the stage was set for another YA series in which one special individual rose up with a revolution despite her circumstances and somehow ended up in a love triangle. I’m not sure we were criticising those kinds of stories in 2015 as much as we are today. That could just be my own awareness of the reviewer world, but I do think we’ve become a little less patient with that trope as the years have gone on.

Where does that leave War Storm, for a series that, whichever way you slice it, has had a huge amount of focus on the main characters relationships with two men? In 2015 I think it would have been a case of ‘well ok another love triangle but go on I’ll read it’ whereas in 2018 I’m sat thinking ‘if this becomes about choosing between two boys I am putting this book down and walking away’. What I’m trying to say is that the ending to this series could easily have been very different had this been written maybe five years earlier. In actual fact, I think the way this series turned in the latter two books towards exploring people’s motivations, and the way that people can have warped opinions as to what is ‘best’ for individuals and for nations, was a powerful move, making this feel much less like ‘just another YA series’ and more like a clear standout on YA shelves.

Does that mean that this book no longer has a romantic plot? Of course not, it is there but it is not just Mare’s plot that is important, the multiple POVs allow you to get in the heads of other characters, to understand their struggles and motivations, this makes the whole book feel very well-rounded. It’s a satisfying ending when you get to learn what happens to everyone in their own words. In fact, I’d say Mare is the least interesting character in this entire story, she’s a vehicle for the plot, certainly, but I was far more interested in other characters throughout. Again, I think that’s a sign of a series that grew and changed as it was written and released, characters who were relegated to minor roles in the earlier books, sidelined by romantic angst, now step into the forefront and shape the plot.

This is a hefty book, and I was a little worried that, as the fourth book in a series, it would feel like a lot of filler, but actually I think there is enough in there that it felt worth having. We get so used to the patterns of trilogies but I think the set of four works in this case.

I do think that, at its heart, this is still a silly YA chosen one series. I’m not voicing that as criticism, I will read those chosen one stories till the cows come home. But I do think that this book, especially compared to Red Queen shows how far both Victoria Aveyard and the world of YA publishing has come in just a few years. Whether you’re a long-time lover of the series and you’re wondering whether this book will live up to your expectations or you are wondering about whether to start with book one I say give it a go, at the very least you’ll have some fun.

My rating: 4/5stars

All opinions are my own.

What say you? Have you read War Storm or any of the Red Queen series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

J

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