Seeing Redd: The Looking Glass Wars #2 -- Frank Beddor
I love the cover art on this one.
Seeing Redd picks up not long after its predecessor left off: Alyss Heart has taken the throne and is busy rebuilding Wondertropolis. She and Dodge haven't figured out how to reconcile their feelings with their relationship -- he is the head of her palace guard, and thus responsible for her safety, but she is a Warrior Queen, and thus responsible for the safety of her people, him included. Also, it's unheard of for a Queen to marry a non-noble.
Jack of Diamonds is still as rotund as ever, despite doing hard labor in the Crystal Mines.
The Capital-V Villains, Alyss' aunt Redd and the Cat, are still missing after having jumped into the Heart Crystal at the end of the last book. Missing, however, does not mean gone for good. Redd is not the only threat to Alyss's rule -- the misogynist King Arch of Boarderland would love to expand his realm. Fighting him will be quite different than fighting Redd -- while Redd dealt in brute force, Arch deals in misdirection and manipulation.
Fans of the first will enjoy the second. It's another fantasy/action movie in book format, with loads of battles, bloodshed, explosions and new evil henchmen. Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson makes another appearance, Redd's adventures in our world are entertaining and the return of Hatter M. is thrilling. If you're looking for an action-driven fantasy story, not at all big on the character development, this might be a good pick. I would suggest, however, reading the books in order.
People who did not enjoy the first book* will (surprise!) probably not enjoy this one either, for the same reasons:
♥ Redd's Wicked Witch routine ("She would recapture The Heart Crystal, and no one, not even prissy Alyss Heart, would be able to wrench it away from her. Ever." and "With the discipline and single-minded purpose she would instill in troops so gifted in Black Imagination, she would not, could not, fail to overthrow her nauseatingly well-intentioned niece.") gets old. Fast. She's a cackling, mustache-twirling, one-note villain, and just not very interesting. King Arch and his henchmen? Same deal, different note.
♥ With the action sequences, Beddor is all about the Showing, but when it comes to anything character-development related, he's all about the Telling: "Alyss knew this to be a constant theme with Homburg Molly. Half civilian, half Milliner, the girl was particularly sensitive to matters of race and class." Seriously, this gets mentioned about half-a-dozen times. Mentioned. Not shown. I realize that this is a sequel, that information needs to be passed on to uninitiated readers, but there just has to be another way.
♥ On occasion, poor Dodge gets stuck with dialogue that would make Keanu Reeves groan:
A Glass Eye leaped out from behind a parked smail-transport, blocked their way. "Did you drop something?" Dodge asked the assassin. "'Cause I think I see your"--he unsheathed his sword and swung, decapitating the Glass Eye in one blow--"head over there."
Note that I'm quoting from a review copy, so it's definitely possibly that things changed before the final printing.
This book reads like the novelization of a really fun action/fantasy/eye candy movie -- like I said, the visuals described are great, characterization and dialogue, not so much. But there are plenty, plenty, plenty of teens who love novelizations. So this book'll have no problem finding its niche, despite those of us who can't get past the flaws.
*Personally, I fall into that category. I don't know why I decided to read the sequel to a book I didn't like very much in the first place. I astound myself.