By: Pierce Brown
Published by: Del Ray (Random House)
Released on: 1/28/14
Series: Red Rising #1
Source: Book from publisher to review
Rating: 4 Stars
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The war begins...
Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.
Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow 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...
A thrilling read, Red Rising is a book fans of dystopians, and science fiction will enjoy. Set on Mars, this book has an unique storyline that's complex, and twisted. Similar to it's story, the world building is richly detailed, incredibly brutal, and unlike anything I've read about before. In a world where your eye color determines your place in society, the story's main character, Darrow, is at the bottom of the class. Being a Red, he lives in the caves beneath the the surface of Mars. Those of other eye colors, Pink and Gold, live else where, and have set job's within society. Gold are at top. With the Reds, doing as they're always told to do, Darrow never questions the laws of his society, until tragedy strikes him, and he's forced to look beyond the caves, and see what's really going on in the world around him.
I really admired the way Brown made me see Darrow. There were times I sympathized with him, other times I wondered when he was going to become the hero he's made out to be, and then there were times I literally felt sorry for him. Brown writes Darrow in such a way that he literally goes on this character journey, and in the process he transforms and changes so many times through out the story. His tragedies change him, as they should. His choices make him stronger physically, and mentally, but emotionally there's so much he's had to endure and deal with, that I understood what he was going through to a certain degree. I also like that with the emotional changes Darrow goes through, Brown used that to allow me to see that underneath the ruthlessness and all he deals with, that's the part of Darrow that stays human the most. It's interesting to see all the changes one character goes through. Darrow literally goes through hell, and back more than once. His transformation from Red into becoming a Gold was brutal, but it was worse reading about what he actually has to do in order to try and win this game.
This story line gets complex and is full of details, and key players. At times it was hard to keep up with everything that was thrown at me within the story line, but in stead of finding myself bored, and putting the book aside, I was intrigued. There were times I literally had to stop, re-read what I just read, and think about it for a minute. Sure, there are times I was a little confused about all the information that I was reading about, but once I got through all that everything made sense, or at least for the time being. There are many twists, and turns that keep this plot line action packed, and intriguing. This book has a surprisingly large cast of characters who's motives, and alliances are constantly changing. Normally a group of characters this large doesn't always work in a book this size, but how ever is not this case for Red Rising. All of the characters in this book have a purpose for being in the story.
The things I at first viewed as right or wrong, Brown quickly made me realize that there is not always a right and wrong when it comes to some of the characters. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of wrong, and the story gets brutal with the violence, but it's also a game about survival, and out smarting those you're competing against, and trying to over throw. Some of the characters saw things very differently, and made choices based on survival. I liked that Brown stripped away my own way of thinking, and make me get into the mind set of what would I do? After reading this book, I'm not so sure I would have been able to endure all Darrow and the characters do. When it comes to playing this game, set up by a society that is governed by a ruthless law & order, strategy is the key to winning. Only the toughest mentally, physically, and emotionally will survive. Only the strongest will be apart of the rebellion that's already forming.
Red Rising is unlike anything I've ever read before. It's in a league all it's own, as it's unique and complex story line is one that quickly changes from one extreme to the next. It's a story that's complex, full of secrets, and twists that constantly change the course of what's going to happen next. The detailed writing, and intense world building only add to the feeling of the over all story. Red Rising is a deadly game where more than brute strength and survival skills are needed to be crowned the winner in this book. An addictive, and an intense read that lures you in, Red Rising is a dystopian that definitely lives up to it's hype. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store for Darrow in Brown's sequel.
* Red Rising is an adult book with a teenage main character. It's a book who's world is incredibly brutal, ruthless, and violent, a book I'd recommend to those 18 years & older.