A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that King's Cage is the third installment in Victoria Aveyard's best-selling Red Queen fantasy series. Fans of the fantasy series will know to expect scenes of supernatural and traditional combat violence (the Silvers and Newbloods all possess special powers, while the Reds use weapons), which include battle sequences where some characters control weather, others electricity, and others fire, and some simply use guns, swords, and more. There's a great deal of personal violence in this book, but the action violence is contained mostly in the last quarter of the story. The romance ramps up in this sequel, with one love story resulting in a sexual relationship, but the author keeps the passages teen-reader-appropriate. This continues to be a "chosen one" story, in which the lead character is destined to overthrow the status quo, but there's at least one more book left in the series.
What's the story?
KING'S CAGE is Victoria Aveyard's third book in the best-selling Red Queen series following Red-born Mare Barrow, who has even greater powers than those born with Silver blood, and the king's cage is the symbol of a revolution to overthrow the oppressive Silver rulers. Starting shortly after Glass Sword ends, Mare is in King Maven's custody, having exchanged her freedom for the safety of Silver-blooded Prince Cal, the Scarlet Guard, and the Newbloods she had rounded up to fight Maven. Back at the palace, Maven has Mare interrogated by his Silver cousin who can manipulate and search her mind -- but he also dolls her up to show off like a pretty puppet. Maven forces her to make statements renouncing the Scarlet Guard and asking Newbloods to come out of hiding and serve the new King. Meanwhile, Cal, Farley, Kilorn, and Cameron try to simultaneously plan the resistance without Mare and find a way to save her from Maven.
Is it any good?
After Aveyard's disappointing second book, this installment is just what Red Queen fans need: genuine growth and character development, more romance, and more end game in sight for Mare Barrow. Even skeptics who put the series down after the lackluster Glass Sword should consider resuming it now that the author has once again found her groove, and her main character is no longer as excruciating to follow. Although the bulk of the book has Mare imprisoned in the Silver Palace, it's not just all about her. Aveyard manages to couple Mare's self-reflection with glimpses of villains who are far more complex than they originally seemed. Maven was twisted and molded by his now-dead mother, whose powers allowed her to take away and insert thoughts and feelings at her will. Evangeline is revealed to be far more ambitious (and far less interested in being any man's Queen) and even slightly in awe of Mare. And then there's Cal, who still struggles with Hamlet levels of indecision with the one exception of his overpowering feelings for Mare.
At more than 500 pages, it's unsurprising that the pacing is uneven: Some parts fly by, and others feel overlong. The introduction of Newblood Cameron as a narrator has potential, but so far it hasn't been seamless; her chapters are noticeably less compelling than the other points of view. She is, however, an interesting counterpoint to Mare, and she injects some diversity (beyond the blood colors) to the story. The women in this installment (Mare, Cameron, Farley, Evangeline, and even a brief cameo by Cal's grandmother, who's reminiscent of the clever but elderly matriarch Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones) outshine the men. Given that the book starts with a quote from Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's clearly on purpose, and discerning readers can see how girls will eventually rule in this world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of fantasy-dystopian novels that take place in totalitarian or caste-based societies. Why are these stories so compelling to readers? How does King's Cage compare with similar titles?
Who, if anyone, is a role model in this installment? What makes that person an example of courage, teamwork, and other such qualities?
What do you think of the romance? Are you a believer in the central "ship," or do you think they still face formidable odds they must overcome?
Do you think there should be only one more book in the series, or would you be up for even more than that?
- Author: Victoria Aveyard
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Great girl role models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: February 7, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 528
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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