What I got was a mix of the Hunger Games and The Selection Series with a bit of Graceling thrown in. Not to say that that isn't a good combination- it is. Its just that the overall feel of the book seemed very familiar: the arena of the Hunger Games, the romantic triangle and royalty of the Selection series and the magic of Graceling. Good combination in theory but when the author blatantly takes scenarios from each and just changes the characters and place names, it becomes questionable. The over all story is very Cinderella-esq: The main character, Mare, is a servant girl who is destined to become a soldier in war she doesn't believe in. That is until she meets a mysterious guy in a bar who turns out to be the prince in disguise- the prince takes her to the castle to be a servant (thus saving her from the war). Insert love, drama, a second prince, and an evil Queen (who just happens to be the first princes' stepmother). There is also magical powers thrown into the mix. Add an *unexpected* twist and a guy from home who Mare could potentially love, and you have Red Queen. I understand that authors read too and what they read influences what they right but this was obviously a mash-up of Aveyard's favorite YA novels and themes. Had it been done a tad differently (take out the arena- it really does nothing for the plot), the overall book would have been better.
This is the first book in a planned trilogy, I will probably read the next two just to see how it ends but I doubt I will read this again.
Next up: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige