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.
Beyond The Red is a YA Sci-Fi novel about Queen Kora of the Sepharon Kingdom and rebel soldier Eros. To say that Queen Kora in deep shit is an understatement, and her problems seem to be growing larger everyday. Kora is the first female to take the throne in seven generations, and her people are starting to think her incapable of doing her job. There’s also her twin brother Dima, who resents her for being the older twin and thus acquiring the throne, and her soldiers who are more loyal to Dima than the Queen herself. Add to that mess the pressure of finding a man to be her mate and producing a heir, and Kora may very well lose her mind.
So how exactly does Eros fit into this equation? Eros is half-human, and that makes him an abomination and unaccepted to both species. He lives in the Sepharon deserts with his make-do family, but when Kora kills them all in what can only be called slaughter, he is presented with the option of being Kora’s personal guard or death. But things quickly go up shits’ creek when Dima basically hates everything to do with Eros.
So that’s it. Basically, that’s all you need to know about Beyond The Red before you read it.
Safara. The planet. I loved it. Yes, it’s possible to love a planet. The entire world was built very unlike our own planet, and yet, I found myself strangely fascinated by its red desert, the quadruple moons (!!!!) and the entire political scene on Safara. The whole thing reminded me a lot of John Carter, down to the tattoos and texts engraved on the humanoid Sepharons who were the pre-dominant species on the planet.
Again, with this comes the sci-fi that the planet is based on, and I’m happy to report that there was no overwhelming info-dump whatsoever. I’m a reader who loves sci-fi, but hates all the info dumped on me in the first ten pages, and Beyond The Red had nothing of the sort. Information about the planet and its inhabitants (human or otherwise) was given when it was required, and sometimes too late, but exactly when it should have been.
I can’t exactly say that I didn’t loved Kora, but I didn’t exactly hate her either. I liked being in her mind more than I liked Eros’ POV, but she was of a mercurial mind, and I can’t say that is to my liking. She was a strong, able queen, with only the wrong people and circumstances around her, but she wasn’t exactly the most outgoing queen either. She herself admitted that it had been years since she’d seen the city she was ruling, and that felt a little stupid to me. How would the people like her if they didn’t know her? So there’s that.
On the other hand, Eros who was one horny guy. He knew Kora had slaughtered his family (he was right there when it happened) and yet, he wanted to sleep with her every time he saw her thigh, or stomach, or abs, whatever. he got along with her amazingly, which is ridiculous, because he really should have hated her. You can say, he was one guy I didn’t get from the beginning to the end. Complete crazy, no jokes. I wasn’t exactly gunning for their romance either. It wasn’t swoony or slow-burn or instalove, it was just plain annoying. And thankfully, there wasn’t too much romance, so that was quite a relief. No ships for me in this book, and I don’t even mind.
I can say one of the things that truly disappointed me was the actual parts of adventure. Most of the book is just Kora feeling conflicted about something or the other, and Eros trying not to mount her like a dog. The actual adventures were all covered in the last 25% or so, and that really was a bummer. Everything felt rushed and cramped into the end, and there was literally too much happening in too little time. Not cool. AT ALL. The entire book could have gone on a completely different (and better) tangent had the plot consisted of more fleeing and phasers and conspiracies and court politics but I just kept waiting for something big to happen mid-book and nothing did.
All this aside, I do believe that I’d jump on the chance to read a sequel. The book is pretty one-ended for a sequel, and much is left to the imagination, so I suppose it could go either ways. And no cliffhanger (yayayayay) so there’s also that. It’s not a very bad book, but it’s not the best there is either. The writing could have been so much more impactful but the characters and their generally bothersome personalities ruined the book for me. There were a number of major events that took place throughout the book, so here’s hoping that the sequel will be better, with less cantankerous characters and more fighting and flighting!