(Reviews posted at The Book Pushers)
***Possible trigger warning: this story contains a singular rape-themed scene where the female villain drugs and tortures the hero***
Ice Red, the first book in the Once Upon a Red World series, is a SciFi Romance loosely following a Snow White construct. The story takes place on Mars, some 300-plus years into the future. A Mars elevator and orbiting space station have been developed to enable more efficient travel from the planet’s surface to awaiting spaceships. Bianca's father, the creator of the Mars space elevator, is about to embark a spaceship bound for Earth so he can help the Earther’s complete their elevator project according to his specs. This leaves Bianca's step-mother, Victoria, in charge and forces Bianca in a position of having to prove her worth. Bianca is sent to the surface of Mars to complete the merger of a mine that Victoria wants to acquire for StarLine, only the owner, Cesare, isn’t interested in selling. He has secrets to protect in the mine and people’s lives on the line and isn’t about to let his mine fall into StarLine’s hands.
I had a difficult time settling into this story. The narrative switched locations and POVs which affected the pace and made the pieces of the story slow to come together. Just as I was beginning to follow a character, the narrative would switch over to someone else in a different location. This made it hard for me to connect to the characters in the beginning and to really get a sense of where I was within the setting. The pace evened out as the story developed and the main characters came on scene together, but the approach used to introduce the story elements and the characters felt a bit choppy to me.
I found the story concept intriguing and enjoyed imagining life on Mars and the slow evolutionary process of making Mars habitable. I could tell a lot of thought went into the worldbuilding with descriptions of the various types of functional clothing, the different habsuites and locales, the rugged terrain, and various modes of transportation. Wye also took into account how Mars would affect the subsequent generations who were born there. As a result, native Martians took on their own unique characteristics. She also included social elements to the story rooted in the colonization and history of Mars and the impact that had on the current times. The writing style had an ease and overall smooth flow with a good balance between descriptive writing and keeping the action within the individual scenes moving forward. However, when it came to the characters and their feelings and motivations, I felt the narrative skewed a bit into Telling which detracted from my experience of the characters on the whole. I couldn’t help but see echoes of <em>Firefly</em> in the dialogue with the inclusion of Chinese phrases into the everyday English vernacular in addition to some cowboy/outback references. Although, here, the setting stayed primarily futuristic and didn’t have that full-out Western vibe.
While many of the SciFi elements worked for me, the romance aspect did not...
Read the full review at The Book Pushers: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/10/18/review-ice-red-once-upon-a-red-world-1-by-jael-wye/