Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

SeeingRedd.jpgYesterday we discussed the first book in the Looking Glass Wars series, the aptly named The Looking Glass Wars.  I found the first book in the series interesting and full of action, but a little weak on characters and depth.  As many have noted, it has a straight-to-film or game type quality to it.

The second book in the series, Seeing Redd, continues in that same vein.  So if you enjoyed the first book I would guess you will enjoy the second one as well.  And obviously, the opposite applies.

There is a little more complexity, however, to the plot in Seeing Redd.  There is the burgeoning love story between Alyss and Dodge; the mystery behind Hatter Madigan’s long lost love and unknown child; and political machinations between Redd and the misogynist King of Borderland against Wonderland and Alyss; and even a sort of super weapon that might destroy Wonderland.  As a result, we get a little more insight into the motivations and lives of the characters.

As in the first book, I think Redd is again the most compelling character.  Clearly, Beddor has more fun with the dark side of things.  Redd just has a certain zip or style to her that few of the other characters do.  Her interaction with the Cheshire Cat Assassin has a fun black humor to it throughout.  In contrast, Alyss seems a little too syrupy and one dimensional.

Also like the first book, Beddor is great at creating concepts and unique technology but less so at building a convincing world.  There are a lot of imaginative aspects to the story and to the characters, but after two books I still feel like I don’t know that much about this alternate world and its inhabitants.  Not to run the comparison into the ground, but the series comes off like a Hollywood blockbuster that has great special effects and is visually stunning at times but with a plot that is slightly implausible and a little flat.

This is a sort of classic glass half empty versus glass half full question.  Beddor attempted to take on a classic work of literature and tweak it into a sort of dark science fiction fantasy series.  He obviously had the creativity and imagination to conceptualize such a a work, but fell short on the execution of it in novel form.  It read to me like a epic series created by a visual person.  And for “text types” like me, the promise of the visuals overshadow the reality of the text.  But because he aimed for something big, the resulting shortcoming is still entertaining and interesting – provided you like young adult fantasy.

As is so often the case, a great deal of this probably depends on your tastes.  If you enjoy action and fast paced adventures with a darker, more violent, side, then you will like Seeing Redd.  If you are looking for a more fully developed alternate world with character depth and a more literary sensibility, Seeing Redd will probably disappoint.

That said, I will read the third book when it comes out just to see how Beddor wraps it all up.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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