Friday, September 30, 2016

Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

I have a lot of thoughts about this book.  Some of those thoughts are slightly spoiler-y, but it's very mild and general.  Still, if it matters to you, you've been warned.

Beyond the Red is a YA SciFi told from two points of view.  One is Eros who is a half blood human/Sehparon.  Eros has been raised by an adoptive human family in a desert tribe that barely tolerates him.  For reasons of purity, half bloods usually killed at birth.  We find out, though, that Sepharon men can control if they impregnate the woman they have sex with, so why there would be any half bloods is a bit of a mystery.  Humans are a reviled species by the Sepharons and the Sepharons are bigger and stronger.  Thus, it makes sense that mostly if there were any relations they'd be of the male Sepharon and female human variety not the other way around.  Anyway.  Eros' tribe is attacked and many die but some escape and some are taken prisoner to serve as slaves in the nearby Sepharon city which is ruled by Kora.  Kora is our other point of view character.  She's the ruler in Elja by dint of being born before her twin brother (which, by the way, if Sepharon males choose about impregnation, she shouldn't have been conceived in the first place because her dad wanted a male heir).  Kora's brother wants her throne, as, seemingly, do the people.  She ordered the attack on the humans because they attacked her first.  Or did they?  Eros becomes her personal body guard.  And things develop.

Okay, so I read the whole book, which means it wasn't horrible.  However, I saw a lot of plot holes.  I also stumbled on some of the language adaptations.  I get the whole idea of language evolving - "sort of" becoming "sortuv" is used here - but I felt like they few adaptations were...a bit silly.  It seems to me that either more would have changed or it should just be English with the understanding that English would have possibly evolved, but this is the language we'd be reading the book in, if that makes sense.  There are some losses of life, I won't go into specifics, and I know we were supposed to feel sad, but I never felt like we knew the ones who were lost enough to be sad.  Which brings me to characterization in general.

I liked Eros okay.  He seemed to accept his lot almost too easily, but I appreciated his resilience.  I felt more mixed about Kora.  She was sometimes okay, but she made a bad ruler.  On the first afternoon Eros is in her service, she spends the whole afternoon reading after a morning workout.  Her territory is in trouble, but she doesn't have anything to do?  She doesn't see the threats even when it seemed sort of obvious.  She trusts Eros amazingly quickly and also accedes to his demands in trade for him swearing himself to her but her reasons for doing so aren't super strong if she actually trusts her brother, which she seems to because she doesn't see any threats. 

Overall, what I liked was Eros, the world (but I'd have liked to see world building done a bit better), the writing style (the first chapter had me hooked) and the general idea of the plot.

By the end, I was loosing interest, but I did finish it out.  I don't know for sure if I'll read the next one.  What I feel like is that Ava Jae has a lot of potential as a writer (as did Beyond the Red as a book in the beginning) and I'm interested in seeing what she does down the line, but I might wait for a little sophistication as a writer to build.

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