Mare Barrow lives in a world divided between the wealthy (the Silvers) and the poor (The Reds). Her days consist of pick-pocketing to help her family survive. Her father, a veteran of the war, cannot help so she and her sister take on work, either legal or illegal, to supply what little food and electricity they can.
The lives between the Silvers and the Reds run in completely separate veins. Mare, her family, Kilorn (her best friend), and everyone else living in poverty in the Stilts are Reds. They have nothing special about them except to ensure Silvers' lives of leisure. The blood that runs through their them is even mundane...red.
Silvers, on the other hand, not only have money and power, but are also gifted with extraordinary abilities. Some can manipulate water, other can read your minds, still others are strong enough to crush rock with their bare hands. There are fire starters, swifts, greeneys, and stoneskins, to name a few, and ever Silver is not only gifted with an ability, but their blood also runs silver, a beautiful and rich color.
Life in the Stilts is about to get worse for Mare Barrow's family. When her sister can no longer work, Mare goes into full mode pick-pocketing. Her best friend Kilorn, whom Mare has known since childhood, is in danger of being conscripted to fight in a battle between the Lakelanders and the Norta, which has lasted decades and decades. His leaving is tearing at Mare, and she'll do anything to stop this from happening.
One fateful night will forever change the destiny of not only Mare, but her family's and Kilorn's as well. Once a roamer of the streets, Mare is now at the Silvers monarchy's summer palace to serve and it's there that she unleashes a power unlike anything ever seen. But how can a Red have the abilities of a Silver?
Mare's life becomes a whirlwind where she now needs to balance two opposing sides - first as a newly formed future princess and pawn to a crown prince and secondly, as part of a hidden renegade group of Reds wanting to take down the hierarchy. But which life will she fight hardest for and whose trust will turn out to be a lie?
This is a novel that fantasy readers have been waiting for. From the land where Reds and Silvers live to the individual powers displayed, to the deep and cunning nature of the renegades, Aveyard has created a sweeping fantasy that enchants and intrigues the reader to keep trying to figure out the twists, plots, schemes and relationships it presents. Mare is a strong main character and the two characters vying for her attention in different ways create a polarity in personality that makes this book work. The only thing missing is a map of this new world Aveyard has created, but those with enough fantastical imagination can create one of their own easily through the richness of the setting written in this new fanasty for YA. Highly recommended for JH/HS