A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Glass Sword is the sequel to Victoria Aveyard's best-selling dystopian fantasy Red Queen. As with most middle books in a series, it features an extraordinary protagonist and her allies on the run from an evil antagonist, considerable violence (some of the characters are like X-Men mutants with special abilities), and a dash of romance. Although there's a love story between a loyal best friend and a broody alpha male, it's tame compared with the more overt love stories in comparable titles, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Selection, and The Grisha Trilogy. There's less political intrigue in this installment, and the plot isn't as action-packed until the last quarter. The main character's unlikable sense of superiority makes this sequel disappointing but necessary for those following the series.
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What's the story?
GLASS SWORD picks up right after Red Queen ends, with Red-born Mare in an uneasy alliance with the Scarlet Guard, the underground rebellion that has taken Silver-blooded Prince Cal prisoner as they all escape the betrayal of Maven, now the king. Queen Elara used her mind-control skills to force heir apparent Cal to kill his own father, so her son, the second son Maven, could be crowned king. With Maven and Elara in power, they turn their sights to imprisoning or killing all the newbloods (Reds with Silver abilities) such as Mare. Obsessed with freeing others like her, Mare and a Scarlet Guard team that includes her brother Shade, her best friend Kilorn, and the reluctant Cal head out on a mission to gather the X-Men-like newbloods across the kingdom to fight the bloodthirsty new king.
Is it any good?
First-person stories rely on the protagonist evolving, just as sequels must balance action and plot, and on both counts this installment fails to live up to its predecessor. Mare, now fully aware of her powers, is extremely unlikable in this installment. She's egotistical, angry, and cruel, calling her best friend "nothing" and constantly ruminating about her superiority as the "lightning girl." She immaturely swings from suspicious to hateful to disappointed in everyone and lives by the oft-repeated motto, "Anyone can betray anyone."
While Mare's character development stalls with her constant self-aggrandizing mixed with bouts of insecurity and selfishness, the plot itself is quite thin for the 400-plus pages. It's basically a road-trip story of Mare, Scarlet Guard Captain Farley, and the rest of the crew going from place to place (they all have names, but there's no map to help readers figure out the layout of the kingdom) finding the newbloods with extraordinary abilities. The abilities read like one convenient way to get the band of misfits out of trouble, and except for a couple of standout characters, it's hard to keep track of all the newbloods. The romance continues to move at a glacial pace, and Cal emerges as one of the few characters to elicit empathy from readers. For a Big Bad villain, Mare's presence is barely felt, but at least the last 100 pages ramp up the action, proving the author's strength is closing a story with fireworks. Otherwise, readers will feel betrayed by this rushed and uninspired second book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of fantasy-dystopian books that take place in totalitarian or caste-based societies. Why are these stories so compelling to readers?
The romance continues to be understated. Do you like the way the romance is handled?
Is Mare a role model? What do you think of the way she treats others? Do characters need to be likable for you to like a book?
Themes & Topics
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