I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Beyond the Red by Ava Jae
Published by Sky Pony Press on March 1st 2016
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, BAM, Book Depository, Publisher
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.
This book is simply amazing. Ignoring the obviously gorgeous cover, the lovely prose and fantastic world building, this novel will make the top of my 2016 favourite list because the story itself was quite simply awe inspiring. I’ll definitely be buying this novel the next time I go to Chapters because not only will it look sexy on my shelves, but this author is worth supporting.
We follow the alien queen Kora who struggles with her recent rise to power following the death of her royal parents. Her bloodthirsty brother also has an eye for the throne and begins to secretly develop his own plans to usurp the throne through any means necessary. All the while Kora walks a thin line between a people who are displeased with her rulership and a court of former-friends who could be secretly supporting her brother’s lust for power. When Eros finds his way into Kora’s life she immediately hires the new slave as her protector against her brother’s attempts on her life and throne.
Eros has lived his life as a despised half-breed his entire life, unable to be part of his human family and at risk of death should the alien royals learn of his heritage. He hides in the desert as a last vestige of a rebel human element that are largely peaceful and always mobile. When the royal army wipes out their camp in a night raid and kills Eros adoptive family his life is spared by the alien queen. Taken as a slave, Eros experiences pain and abuse at the hands of the royal guard until Kora offers him an usual deal: become her personal guard to protect her from her brother in return for the release of the last of his rebel camp who have also been taken as slaves. The duo attempt to navigate the seas of racial hate and political intrigue while attempting to tame the turbulent waves of a love neither has the luxury of exploring.
Beyond the Red is a unique sci-fi adventure packed with intrigue, political strife, action and star crossed love. I cried. I laughed. I read it in one sitting – without breaks – because it was just that engrossing. I haven’t read anything remotely close to Beyond the Red in the past and it definitely kept me interested until the very end. Ava Jae develops a love story that transcends expectations with racial struggles and a political system that is deceptively complex. This novel is not just a new adult romance with plenty of feels: it is a story of coups, revolution and social change. I love novels with deeper and broader story lines beyond the romantic so I have already planned to pre-order book two.
Beyond the Red is literally a story of a city on the brink of collapse, a forbidden love and the beginning of a cultural revolution.
I think my favourite parts about this novel beyond the social upheaval and revolution was that the leading male character was not the stereotypical strong, confident man. Instead, Eros is deeply scarred and damaged from a life time as a mixed breed between human and alien. Eros is blessed and cursed to live with his mixed heritage, never really being part of either race but finding his place in their societies all the same. He reflects on his own inner emotional turmoil and often feels he is not worthy of kindness or love from others. Obviously, over time Eros begins to form alliances, friendships and a romantic relationship with our main cast, but he is always cautious and deeply affected by things that happen to him throughout the novel. The sensitive and damaged hero made this book all the more amazing because we see a male lead who organically grows into the man he needs to be to face his own history and demons in book two (which is going to be even more awesome than book one!).
Finally, the love story is far from insta-love which won me over a thousand times more than any “omigosh he’s gorgeous” kind of love story. I have a soft spot for romance that takes a span of many novels or at least most of a novel to develop and Beyond the Red does not disappoint. I loved that Eros hated Kora at first but the pair bond through friendship and inevitability love. The emotional turmoil is so much more intense when the relationship takes awhile to get going and Jae is extremely talented in the art of love-creation dialogues. I didn’t even realize how strongly I felt about either character or their burgeoning relationship until a certain heart wrenching scene near the end that made me bawl my eyes out in sympathy for Eros. Seriously, I bawled and I never cry over novels.
Without a doubt, Beyond the Red is a debut novel worth reading because it is simply beautiful. It’s heart wrenching. It’s exciting.
This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy science fiction, epic (but long forming) romances, tales of political intrigue and coups. I suggest reading this novel with tissue at hand and on a weekend since you won’t be able to put this novel down. The reader must have a healthy respect for plot shits and grand revelations as well as a love for beautiful descriptive prose.