I’ve been following Ava Jae’s Writability blog for a few years, so I was more than a little excited to finally get to read her debut novel, Beyond the Red. I knew little about the story, other than that it was a sci-fi YA (though better suited for slightly older readers on the YA spectrum. It was initially billed as NA according to one of Ava’s posts). The story begins with terror and loss, setting it smack in the middle of an inter-species war. Eros and Kora are drawn into the fray—-one a half-blood outcast, the other a Sepharon Avra (a sort of tribal queen). Set on the desert planet of Safara, the setting is harsh and dangerous, a world of dry, red sands baked under the heat of four suns. The plot is gripping from the first, packed with action and suspense. Definitely a page-turner and deserving of attention.
It’s been some time since I’ve read sci-fi fantasy and this was definitely a treat. Ava’s world-building is excellent, subtle hints situate the story within a future, post-Earth, other world reality that is entirely believable. The politics and bi-species tension are also elaborately drawn, adding an extra layer of polish to a seemingly simple story of forbidden love, honor, and duty. Really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from Ava.