Review: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

Beyond the Red
by Ava Jae

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.
When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Expected publication date:  March 1, 2016
Source/Format: Edelweiss / e-ARC
Pre-order links: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM! | Book Depository
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

My Thoughts:
Beyond the Red (BtR) takes place in an alien planet called Safara. Safara has eight territories and each territory is ruled by royalty, one of whom is Queen Kora (or “el Avra” as what her subordinates call her). When confronted with discontented citizens who prefer her twin brother as a ruler, she launched a campaign against the human rebels to assert her strength and power. Living among the human rebels is Eros, a half-blood. In one swift raid from the Sepharon soldiers, everything was ripped off from him and he was taken to be enslaved. The discovery of his secret identity lead to him and Kora become unexpected allies.

This debut novel has a unique premise and setting where generations ago, humans from Earth attempted to invade Safara but they failed and thus became slaves to the native race, the Sepharons. Safara is a planet with two suns, four moons and red desert sands. It has its own rich culture, langauge, religion and technology.

The book is told in first person dual points of view of Kora and Eros. Each has a distinct voice and they are both quite relatable main characters. Kora is understandably an insecure ruler as she is young, inexperienced and the first female ruler in generations thrown befuddled in the dirty world of politics. Eros is a half-Sepharon, half-human in a planet where half-bloods are treated worse than dirt by both humans and natives alike. He is a bit brooding spewing words such as, “People will always find fault where they want to.” and “I’m not one of them. I’m not one of anyone.”, but I like him that way. Both characters are just trying to to find their true place under the two suns of Safara and what they found instead is each other.

Romance-wise, the book has elements of forbidden love, love triangle and a display of Sepharon courtship which involves some sexy fire dancing. Worth mentioning is a well-written scorching hot kissing scene under the night desert sky that really made my cheeks burn. Um, I might have felt my ovaries squirm, too.

On the cute side, Queen Kora has this alien pet who I imagined to be a cross between The Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro and Lion from Steven Universe! With just a swish of tail, this thing practically steals any scene it’s in. I just want to reach out through the pages and pat its red fur.

BtR accomplished an astonishing feat in setting up a book with a unique place and premise. It's an entertaining book but the problem for me lies in the rushed ending. In my opinion, the book merits several more pages to give depth to some supporting characters and for it to fully wrap up what it has set up. Also, the supposed powerful villain never quite brings the menace that it should. Maybe, because this particular villain only got bits and pieces on the first 80% of the book and gets to be really horrible and menacing only on the last few pages. For me, the villain and the entire book ended up feeling like a set-up for a larger storyline. There should be a sequel, perhaps? The last time I checked, this one is a standalone so, yeah, the ending was rushed for me. There are lots to like in BtR but I did not fall head over heels in love with this book.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...