Red Queen is about an oppressed group of people and one particular girl who discovers that she has the power to revolt against her oppressors from the inside. That sounds a little like The Hunger Games. And also Divergent. What do all of these series’ have in common? The chosen special. Whether it be through “fire” or through birth, each of these three girls are the chosen special. A dystopian protagonist for the masses.
Harry Potter, Clary Fray, Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior, Percy Jackson, Thomas, etc. be it through creative story telling or through the tale itself, all of these protagonists are their very own brand of special. I think we like these tales because we’d like to imagine that we can be the chosen special and we can have that adventure. They bumble their way into the action and then save the day. As the series progresses they become more and more deliberate in their actions, but it all stems from the first unknown. They even, often, follow a similar formula – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but what can we glean from it? This love of the formula indicates a desire to stand out.But a story where everyone’s equal – everyone’s super – doesn’t work. “Because when everyone’s super, no one will be” (The Incredibles: 2004) We all want to be remembered. That’s why we write blogs and make vlogs and write books and act and sing. Whether you want to admit it or not, that’s what we all want; and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Returning to the female part of this whole “female protagonist” equation, there is, in my opinion a very simple reason for the large amount of them: Women are oppressed. Be it in western cultures or not, women have been the historically oppressed gender. But there’s still more than one thing at play, because there are female protagonists, and they mainly have a female readership. Young Adult Literature is, I have found, aggressively targeted at females. Is it because women are more likely to read? I don’t even know if that’s true. I do think however that women need the escape of the specials more than men do because it is women who feel they’re not good, special or interesting enough.
Continually, we women are taking back the strong female archetype. Girls can read of Katniss or Tris or – in this case – Mare and feel inspired by them. They can use these women as role models. What would Katniss do? What would Tris do? What would Mare do? All of these women are revolutionary women and they can inspire girls to take back their identity from Barbie dolls and dresses and apply it to who they actually want to be. Instead of who people want them to be, or who they think they are.
Finally, we return to the book to talk about obvious social commentary. Racism and It’s-always-been-like-this-ism. The Silvers are the powerful ones in this series. They look down upon the Reds because they don’t have powers in the way that the Silvers do. “They want to be oppressed because we’re so powerful” sound familiar? I know, I know, in most western countries “racism is over” right? Wrong, if the continuing riots in America have taught us anything, it’s that racism is, unfortunately, still alive and well. Besides, there are millions of non-western people who are still oppressed because of who they are; who they were born as, things they can’t help. We’ve come so far, and yet we’ve got so much farther to go. We think we can’t change anything because everyone is just the same. But we can. If any of these protagonists have taught us anything it’s that one stone can tip the balance. Katniss was one girl and she managed to change her world. Tris was one girl and she freed hers. And Mare’s story isn’t over yet, but I can hear the stones rumbling. And I want to see where it goes.
Honestly I’m pretty agreeable with books. This one isn’t so bad. I think I’m going to give the series a chance, even if there was a bit of the annoying love triangle troupe.
Leave your own thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear your opinions.
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