A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that War Storm is the fourth and final book in Victoria Aveyard's best-selling Red Queen series. Fans of the fantasy quartet will be ready for plenty of action scenes featuring supernatural and traditional combat (the Silvers and Newbloods all possess special powers, while the Reds use weapons and military strategy). The violence includes battle sequences where some characters control elements such as water and fire, others electricity, and others metal, while some simply use guns, swords, and more. The romantic subplots continue in this story, with two couples engaging in complicated sexual relationships (one is technically adultery and the other is between exes who still love each other), but the author keeps the passages suggestive rather than explicit. This finale may not neatly wrap up every plotline with a bow or answer every question, but those who've read the three previous installments will want to know what happens to Mare, Cal, Maven, and the rest of the characters.
What's the story?
WAR STORM leaves off where King's Cage ended, with Cal choosing the crown even if it means an uneasy alliance with the self-proclaimed king of the Rift and the premier of the mixed-blood democratic nation of Montfort. Mare, however, chooses to leave Cal (now King Tiberias) and his offer to be his consort and instead continues her mission with the Scarlet Guard and other Reds who fight for the dismantling of the monarchy. But even the Scarlet Guard understands that Maven and his young Lakelander queen force the most immediate threat and agree to join King Tiberias' fragile coalition of Silvers, Newbloods, and Reds -- in order to defeat his maniacal younger brother. The end is near, new alliances and secret deals are negotiated, and Mare, the lightning girl, can't escape her destiny between the two Calore brothers -- one whom she loves but feels she can't stand beside, and the other she fears she may be forced to kill for the sake of progress.
Is it any good?
This fourth and final book offers only a somewhat satisfying ending to the uneven Red Queen series. The books started with an extremely compelling premise and interesting (if predictable) characters, but in War Storm, there are no more cliffhanger endings or startling reveals left to enthrall readers. Instead, there's a whole lot of political intrigue, less Maven (which is sure to upset his fans), and the introduction of Montfort, a free republic where Silvers, Reds, Newbloods, and Ardents all live together in a unique democracy. Although Mare is still the protagonist, the multiple points of view include Cal, Maven, Iris (Maven's queen), and Evangeline, with this last a clear standout. She's one of the few characters to truly grow in this final story.
As has been the case with most of the series, pacing continues to be a struggle, with some scenes feeling rushed and others too slow. At nearly 700 pages, however, the book could've used more tightening up, particularly of repetitive, descriptive passages. For example, the constant pining between now separated Mare and Cal grows tiresome until they finally give in to their feelings. And despite the length of the story, author Victoria Aveyard doesn't explore the secondary characters we've grown to care about, like Kilorn or Cameron, and instead inserts more and more of Iris and her matriarchal storyline. Like in Mockingjay, there's a whole lot of political commentary and timely themes to unpack, but War Storm lacks the emotional final chapters and touching epilogue that is a signature staple of most series enders. Still, it's a must-read if you've made it this far in the story of the lightning girl and her princes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the political and social themes in War Storm. How do you think the book's messages have been influenced by today's divisive political climate? Do you agree that people need to band together, create alliances, and force those in power to listen and change?
What do you think of the romances and how they ended up? Are you a believer in the central "ship," or were you rooting for other couples? What do you think about what happens with Mare and Cal?
How do you feel about this final installment? In the end, was it a satisfying resolution to the series? Which book was your favorite, and how does this one rank among the four books?
Who, if anyone, is a role model in this installment? What makes that person an example of courage, teamwork, and other character strengths?
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For kids who love fantasy
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