Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

glass-swordSynopsis: If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

My thoughts: “If I am a sword, I am a sword made of glass, and I feel myself beginning to shatter.”

Okay, I’m going to be careful here because it’ll be hard to talk about this book without spoiling anything (and there are enough crazy big and little things that you don’t want spoiled), so I will just continue on in mild vagueness.

Glass Sword is not as good as Red Queen. It’s just not.

But, really, if I’m being honest, I did not expect it to be because I really loved Red Queen. I hoped Glass Sword would be just as amazing, if not better. It wasn’t, but that’s okay. Well, I should say ‘eventually’ it was okay.

I began this book very annoyed. Because Mare was freaking annoying. It wasn’t so much her as a person (though I’ll get to that in a minute) as much as she was written. She repeated everything. Everything. Seriously, it was so redundant. I understand we need a refresher for book one, but by page 82 I was getting very annoyed. Yes, Mare, we know you are the lightening girl. We know you’ve been betrayed. We know the world looks to you and some hate you and you feel so awful inside. I get it. You don’t need to tell me every five seconds because then you just sound like a melodramatic brat who is so self-centered its a miracle we got news of anything happening with anyone else. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. But I felt like it took away so much from the book, and it made it really hard to like Mare or even feel sorry for her. Everything was much better when things were shown to me rather than Mare telling me: like when people wouldn’t talk or look at her except her hands because they were afraid of her. That’s effective. Mare going on for a mini paragraph about how the world has shut her out–for the fourth time that chapter–did not help the story at all.

Combine that with the pacing of the first half, and I was losing hope for Glass Sword. I was so sad and refused to give up because I just had to believe it would get better. It wasn’t boring, necessarily, because I still cared about what was happening and the people it was happening to, but I felt it dragged and lulled and shot along in weird ways that made the plot hard to follow but not really because not a ton was going on. It was weird. Then things starting picking up about halfway, my hope was reignited, and it kept building until the fantastic finale.

So, yes, Glass Sword is not as good as Red Queen, but it is definitely worth reading.

Our lightening girl, Mare, struggles in this book. Understandably so. But she can be too harsh and selfish and for much of the book I was going back and forth on whether I even liked her at all, which was so hard for me because I really loved the first book. It wasn’t until the ending–in a heartbreaking scene with Cal–that I realized my true feelings for Mare and the reasons behind them: Mare isn’t that great of a person. She is still a great person, don’t get me wrong, and I have a lot of respect for her as a heroine and character, but she is not like the selfless, overly kind, stand-up people we somewhat expect our protagonists to be like. She is a deeply flawed human being, and deeply realistic. We all like to say we’d take the high road in nasty situations, but how many of us would? Truly, Mare represents an average girl raised in a horrible place with no real talents and no real future, thrown into an awful war that cost her so much, and that is still costing her nearly more than she can give. And once I realized this, even though I still didn’t agree with a lot of things she was doing, I was on her side again, and I appreciated the character development she went through in Glass Sword so much more.

Let’s pause for a moment, though, to talk about the most amazing person in the entire book (yes, I know it’s hard to pick because I love so many of these flawed, dynamic, and diverse characters): Cal. Yep, Cal is the best. Seriously, I absolutely loved him in Red Queen, but his character development in Glass Sword is just amazing. Holy crap. The way Victoria Aveyard wove him and built him and tore him down…man, it was just great. Cal remained the star of the show for me, with honorable mentions to others I can’t name because they could be spoilers. Though I’m happy to say that I really did learn to love Farley, which was something I never anticipated in the Red Queen.

The last half, and even last quarter, of Glass Sword is where everything and everyone really shines, even though it was an emotional roller coaster. The conflict was just so real and complex and conflicting–yes, Mare was in the wrong on some things, but not all, and most of the time there wasn’t a clear answer or a real line between right and wrong. Yes, decisions were made that resulted in heavy cost…but were they ‘wrong’ ones? To some yes, to others no, and that’s what made the war so realistic and difficult. I feel like that struggle wasn’t really well represented until the last half. Then it got really good. And it kept building and building and building, and serious things went down, and then there was this beautifully awfully terrible scene in the last chapter between Cal and Mare that tore through my soul. I’m not a crier, but my eyes got blurry with tears as I read one of their last conversations of the book, because it just cut through me. That’s when I truly accepted Mare again, and everyone else, and my heart just broke for them all. Because pain changes you and those you love, as much as you wish on every star that it wouldn’t. Oh my word I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. Beautiful, Victoria Aveyard. The display of the struggle was so well done.

And then there was that flipping ending. Holy crap. I shouldn’t have doubted, but that finale was one of my favorite, chilling and goosebump-inducing endings ever. I often got confused during Glass Sword because the world here doesn’t feel completely built…I don’t know. Lots of names are mentioned and it’s hard to keep track of what’s where. But a real strong point of Victoria Aveyard’s writing, especially for this series, is painting visuals. Because those last three pages, I was there, and it was so visually dynamic, I really felt I’d been transported from my bed into that crowded square with Mare. And I saw the silver and the red. I held my breath. My eyes were wide. I read the last line probably six times because it was just so perfect. As awful as that ending–and cliffhanger–was, it was exactly what I wanted. And it was so worth the somewhat bumpy ride of Glass Sword.

I’ll leave you with this: the third book is called King’s Cage. Should that absolutely terrify you? Yes. Yes it should.

Rated 4/5: for amazing imagery, a high-stakes conflict, complex characters, and a last scene that I keep replaying over and over in my head, reigniting the fire that makes this series so vibrant