Sunday, January 1, 2017
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
It's a new year and a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Yet I'm going back a bit at my first ever review and taking a look at Frank Beddor's Seeing Redd, sequel to The Looking Glass Wars. The criteria for looking at sequels is slightly different than for stand alone novels. How does it compare to the first book? How does it fit in with the rest of the universe? Is it a step up or a step down? Also, for those who haven't read The Looking Glass Wars, this review may contain spoilers. I'll do the best I can to avoid them, but if you want to read the book, you'd best do that first before you check out this review. If you've already read the book or just don't care, then let's dive right in to Seeing Redd.
Wonderland is healing nicely under the care of Queen Alyss now that the usurper Queen Redd has vanished from their world. But Alyss's troubles are far from over as King Arch, the misogynistic ruler of the neighboring Boarderland, has devious plans of his own to rip Wonderland from the new queen's grasp. Also, there appear to be strange sightings of her evil aunt both in their world and in ours. Alyss finds herself torn between what her title demands and what her heart desires as she fights for security in her queendom, and must rely on her allies of old if she is going save Wonderland and it's inhabitants.
Some time had passed between reading the first book and then getting around to this one. When I did, however, it felt like I'd never left the marvelous world that Beddor created. Immediately, you're sucked into this massive universe of imagination and rebellion and magic and war. Each character breathes with life and the sequel continues to capture that awesome aura just as well as the first book did. The characters as just as you left them and, even with a wide cast of characters, I never struggled to remember who was who.
Something I didn't really get to talk about in my Looking Glass Wars review was the villains of the book. Her Imperial Viciousness Queen Redd is just a wonderfully fun villain who's evil motivations don't expand much further than, "I chose to be evil and if you can't accept it than sucks to be you!" She's like a spoiled child and possesses this sense of entitlement that's almost comical, but she's called Viciousness for a reason and kills and maims without a second thought. King Arch is just a character you love to hate. A pig of a man yet with a brilliant mind for strategy, he's cunning and ruthless and poses and genuine threat in the story. You don't see a lot of villains like them anymore, as today they have to have long and complicated backstories and be sympathetic or else just generic baddies who want money or yadda yadda. These two just revel in their evilness and I really kind of appreciate that about them.
The plot is fast paced and full of intrigue as, once again, we jump around in the story to several different points of view. This is a tricky tactic that can sometimes feel like some characters are left out or make you forget who they are, these characters are strong enough to survive the movement of the plot and keep you invested in everyone. You never forget who is who and what they're doing and why, and it speaks to the author's talents and the depth of each character. This also allows you to see the schemes taking place from every vantage point, and works to properly build suspense as you sense someone walking into a trap that they don't see, but you know is there. It's masterfully done and comes together nicely.
If I had to nitpick, I'd say the one flaw of the book would probably be that of Homburg Molly, Alyss's new bodyguard. In the first book, she was interesting and useful enough but sadly she possesses a lot of teenage drama that sadly takes away from the story. She's often caught up in her own angst and as we're used to the undeniably awesome character of Hatter Madigan in this position, it's a bit of a let down. While Molly still does stuff she never gets to the point where she's annoying, her parts in the story were the hardest to get invested in. Not horrible, but definitely not as good as it would have been if they'd just left Madigan in the role.
Seeing Redd is just as awesome an adventure as its predecessor. The story isn't forced, the characters are still the same and as alive as ever, and it, like the first book, also belongs on the Shelf of Recommendation!
Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts.
Next Time: Once upon a peculiar time....