Book Title: The Red Labyrinth
Author: Meredith Tate
Publication Date: June 4th 2019
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Trigger Warnings: physical & emotional abuse, death of a child, discrimination, border walls, one scene of (non-romanticized) forced kissing, description of PTSD
The massive labyrinth was built to protect Zadie Kalvers’ isolated desert town. Unfortunately, living in the maze’s shadow makes her feel anything but safe. Even without its enchanted deathtraps and illusions, a notorious killer named Dex lurks in its corridors, terrorizing anyone in his path.
But when Zadie’s best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. In desperation, Zadie bribes the only person who knows the safe path through-Dex-into forming a tenuous alliance.
Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie’s one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don’t kill her first.
I RECEIVED A COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY FOR REVIEWING PURPOSES. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINIONS IN ANY WAY.
A thrilling, fast-paced book about a powerless teenage girl riddled with years’ worth of childhood trauma, as she goes on a literal life-or-death journey in the deadly labyrinth in hopes of saving her loved ones.
“I am brave. I am strong. And I am not afraid.”
Going straight into this, I admit it got pretty confusing for me at first. But as I continue along with the story, everything in Trinnea quickly made sense as the “Skill” system is pretty straightforward, and I was immediately immersed in the story.
In the book, there’s this horrible patriarchy in which power lies with the Skilled (those born with magical abilities) alone, especially their guards, while the Blanks (those born without any skill) are constantly discriminated and abused. Sounds awfully familiar, don’t you think?
Now, let me just get this out of the way: I was head over heels in love with Landon. He’s the best friend of our main character, Zadie, and he was just a darling. I lived for their dynamic together, romantically at first—OH, HOW I LOVE THE SECRETLY-IN-LOVE-WITH-MY-BEST-FRIEND TROPE—but most especially for their strong friendship. The book walks us through what has happend in Zadie and Landon’s childhood where they first met and how, in every awful moment they had to endure, they’ve been there for each other. Their friendship is so genuine and fleshed out, and that is exactly what I love to see in books.
For the main character herself, Zadie is definitely one of the strongest female protagonists I have read about so far. Despite being Blank, I see great strength in her person. Having experienced such horrid things at such a young age, which only ensued until her teenage years, Zadie is constantly being haunted by the ghosts of her past. Nevertheless, she did not buckle under all of that. She remains determined to save Trinnea, even though most of them were the cause of her life-long torment, so that says a lot about her character I think.
Meanwhile, Dex is another interesting character. I particularly enjoyed reading the scenes where he is present and I am just a sucker for brooding villains.
I also had to commend the author for coming up with such brilliant challenges in the labyrinth. The traps throughout the journey were decidedly not easy and each of them allowed us to get to know the characters in a deeper level. More than that, I was constantly at the edge of my seat from all the excitement and thrill in the labyrinth! And it wasn’t all action as well, there were a few funny moments sprinkled along.
“I keep my rifle out, holding it in my shaking hands. If nothing else, I can whack it over someone’s head.”
The one thing that did felt lacking for me was the world-building. There was Trinnea, sure, but there wasn’t much other than that. The few details that were given about Trinnea and its past were rushed, and I think it could have been incorporated along the story better.
Towards the end, I had an inkling as to what the plot twist would be. But having said that, I did not expect that this book would end the way that it did. I am still unsure about how I feel about the ending, but all I know is that it left an opening for a possible sequel and I will definitely be on the lookout for that.
Overall, The Red Labyrinth is an exhilarating read, with a female protagonist remaining strong in the face of danger. If you’re looking for a fast-paced dystopian novel with a great friendship dynamic, but don’t mind the lack of world-building all too much, then I suggest you try this one!