Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Genre: New Adult / Sci-Fi / Dystopian
My Rating: 5/5
Synopsis: The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.
Break the chains. Live for more.
I don’t know why I waited so long to start this series; I’m actually pretty annoyed with myself. This novel is so slick, with excellent writing and a plot brimming with twists and turns, not to mention that the world-building is complex and unique (yet easy to understand) and the characters 3D.
Darrow himself is an excellent protagonist. Hot-headed, passionate, but deeply caring, his voice leads you through a story filled with violence and oppression, but also hope. Darrow is originally not a rule-breaker, unlike Katniss of The Hunger Games. However, both infiltrate their respective society’s from the bottom up. Yet, after tragedy strikes, Darrow is still not 100% sure he wishes to rebel. Initially, he just wants to give up, and to see Darrow change from a resentful boy to a headstrong young man was something I enjoyed most about this book. His hot-head nature and confidence never spills over into cockiness; he’s self-assured and talented, but if he ever attempts to overstep the mark, he is suitably knocked back. Usually, I find teenage male protagonists the hardest to connect with (Darrow begins the story being 16 and we see him turn 18), but I had no qualms here. Brown has created such a likeable and believable – yet suitably flawed – character and I commend him for this.
His cast of characters are truly unique and Brown doesn’t hold back in showing us their worst sides. Sevro may not be the most ‘humane’ character, but I really liked him, and even ended up liking Tactus a little (although his previous actions aren’t excusable). I did like Mustang as well, and I enjoyed the dynamic between her and Darrow. These ‘Gold’ teenagers – Gold’s being the highest caste in society. Reds, such as Darrow, are the lowest. Other colours include Pink, Green, Obsidian… – are thrust into a ‘game’ not unlike the Hunger Games. However, whereas The Hunger Games novels are Young Adult, the violence and language of the ‘games’ in Red Rising firmly cements it in the New Adult genre for me, as the book deals with slightly darker issues than a Young Adult novel, and so will also appeal to adults. The ‘games’ are brutal and Brown doesn’t shy away from violence and death; nor does he shy away from more sensitive topics such as rape.
Being now 21, Young Adult novels still appeal to me as I enjoy the sense of discovery and change that comes with adolescence, but often now they’re just not gritty enough. Red Rising was certainly gritty and exactly what I’ve been looking for. I think it can be a little naive of some Young Adult authors to ignore the fact that teenagers swear (a lot) and that issues are discussed beyond who kissed who.
Overall, I really loved Red Rising. I’m wracking my brain for flaws and can’t really think of any. Maybe the beginning was a tad slow? But I didn’t really mind because the world-building and characterisation that occurred in the initial chapters was excellent. I’m really excited to get started on the next book at some point, and the prospect of a Red Rising film. I hope they don’t dampen it down to make it more suitable for younger audiences because I think the brutality is what makes Red Rising stand out. It’s not gratuitous, but instead is an excellent study in human nature and our capacity for violence and power.
Have you read Red Rising? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, sorry I haven’t updated recently, but it’s been a busy week, especially with celebrating the end of my boyfriend’s university exams and subsequently giving him the Norovirus I suffered from last week! I’m currently reading All The Birds in the Sky and enjoying it. Review to come soon!