Beyond the Red
by Ava Jae
Review by Bronto Incognito
Age: Young Adult
Series: Stand-alone for now. Potential for a series!!!!
Contains: swearing, mild violence, drinking and mention of alien drug-use, and sex. And sexual references. And one seriously horny teenage boy.
I cross my arms. “And if I decline?”
She grins so sharply it’s a wonder she doesn’t cut herself. “Well, that’ll make my decision much easier then.”
Similar to: Other…scifi…? Really, science fiction is really under-represented in YA. But there’s a bunch of court intrigue, so I’m going to also go with Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby.
Where to begin with this book? We’ll start by saying I have mixed feelings on this one.
World building? 5 stars, all the way. Story? 4 stars. The amount of sex and sexual references in this one?
Enough to make me uncomfortable.
So let’s start off with the things I liked. Ava Jae’s writing style. Loved it. Like that quote above, she’s got a great use of language that doesn’t take you out of the story, but does stop you from time to time to go, “Huh. I like what you did there.”
The world. OMG this world! Red, endless desert sands in a bianary-sun planet. Humans are second class to the ruling aliens, who will either kill or enslave the humans they find. There are nanites. Half of the alien furniture–tables, beds, you name it–floats. They have these beastly, deadly desert cats called kazim and they have long red fur and their big enough for 2 people to ride and you can make them tame with nanites and I want one. Like…right freaking now! They sound AWESOME!!!
The political system, the planet, the technology–everything feels well-done and thorough, even if you don’t get detailed explanations of every little thing. Ooh! And I also want one of their cool hover bike thingies. Those also sound like crazy fun.
For the story you have Eros–a human/alien hybrid raised by humans. Which is rare because generally both humans and the aliens kill those kids the second their born. Eros doesn’t know his real parents, and his adoptive family are the only people in the nomad camp that trust him.
Then there’s Kora. Alien leader of this district. She’s got a two-minute-younger twin brother who wishes he’d have inherited the throne, a growing unrest among her people that feel the same way, and this new half-breed slave that she feels she can trust more than anyone else.
So, there’s totally an insta-love connection between the two, which is not my fav. Especially considering what Kora did right before Eros came to work for her. And I know it’s minor, but I would have liked if they hadn’t taken to calling each other by their real names right away. Come on, you know you love when everyone has to be all proper and formal and hide their feelings in public and then something serious happens or they slip up in public and call the other person by their first name and it’s all GASP! I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY JUST DID THAT!!!!
Or maybe that’s just me, but either way….
The court intrigue is great, trying to figure out who is against Kora and how they’re going to strike plays out really well. Other than the insta-love I didn’t have very many problems with the story. But then….
…sigh. Okay, so if you (or the person you’d be handing the book to) don’t mind a male character who thinks like a male character–i.e. ogling Kora’s breasts, thighs, and everything else, alluding to his…um…”dignity” reacting to her hotness, you know…things like that–then no big whoop. For me, I like a bit less sex in my YA. It can have its place within a story, but both characters (though mostly Eros) had a lot of dirty thoughts and memories and felt like sharing them somewhat often. So I guess really at the end it comes down to the idea that I would let SuddenButInevitable (a grown adult) borrow this book, but I’m not handing it off to TheDinoWhisperer (who’s under 18). She wants to read it on her own, that’s fine. I’m just not the one handing it to her. I’m not her mom.
Overall a good read, and I do want to see at least a sequel come out of this, if not more. But if the next one reads like this one, I’ll be skimming some parts again.
Also, check out some of my other reviews for more fabulous reads!