Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Publication Date: 1/28/14
How I Found It: I've seen it quite a few places lately.
Date Completed: 10/6/16
Summary: Darrow lives deep under the surface of Mars. He is a Red, a member of the lowest working class, sent to prepare the planet for human life. The oppressive ruling class leaves him with nothing and he starts on a journey of vengeance. To defeat the Golds, he must first rise to their level.
What I Thought: This book was so interesting and unique. I really enjoyed it. Brown has a fairly unique premise here - or at least a fairly unique setup. The later portion of the book felt a bit Hunger Games, but definitely with some different elements. Brown has taken many classic plot elements - Cinderella included - and brought them together into something fresh and interesting.
Darrow, a young, successful newlywed, lives under the thumb of an oppressive regime. He slaves away under the red earth of Mars, mining the resources needed to make the planet habitable - or so the Reds have been told. After a series of tragic and troubling circumstances, Darrow comes to find out that Mars was long ago settled by the higher classes. He and his fellow Reds are kept enslaved for the profit and advancement of others. This realization is the push Darrow needs to join the resistance. He agrees to pose as a Gold, the highest caste in the solar system, in order to bring down the system which lies to and subjugates his family and friends.
Next thing he knows, Darrow has undergone some serious plastic surgery and training and is a student at a prestigious university for Golds. Turns out, though, that this school doesn't rely on classes and instructors to teach its lessons. Instead, it sends its students onto a brutal battleground to fight and enslave each other. The dominant rise to the top by demonstrating their ruthlessness and ability to rule. Whoever comes out on top after a year will get the best internships or jobs. Darrow needs to be that person.
I really enjoyed this book. There were some aspects of it that I didn't like. It got really violent and I don't love that. I felt some of the detail of violence was gratuitous. I understand the need for it to express the gravity of the story, but I still feel you can get the same points across without the level of detail. While I know many don't agree with me, I think Suzanne Collins struck a pretty nice balance on this front with the Hunger Games series. The violence was there and serving a purpose, but she kept it reigned in to an extent. I would have liked a little more of that here, if for no other reason than so much gore and violence twists my stomach a bit. It reminded me of Ender's Game in that regard. But, Brown got his message across; it's not a world in which I would want to live.
One thing very different than Ender's Game that I greatly appreciated was the pervasive presence of females. I know there are a few influential girls/women in Card's book, but they were much bigger players here. While Darrow's society has some serious downfalls, gender equality didn't seem to be a major one. That was nice.
Of course, you can't rank one type of discrimination above or below another and this society has major, major discrimination issues. Class warfare is a prevalent theme and one which I think will be fleshed out even more as the series continues. Darrow's ultimate goal is to topple the system. This book was more about getting him in position to do that, rather than actually fighting the war (instead, he just fought the "war" instead the academy).
Brown really did keep me guessing throughout, which I love. Sure, there are some tropes and some easy predictions, but he also brought enough originality and twists to keep me engaged. I truly did not know who would end up allegiant to whom. That's a good place to be as a reader.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Brown has set himself up to continue the story well, but I'm anxious to see the execution of that. Ever since my experience with the Divergent trilogy, I'm very wary of sequels. An author can really go off the rails and ruin things. Here's hoping Brown maintains the same interesting, exciting standard.
Quote I Loved: "Words are a weapon stronger than he knows. And songs are even greater. The words wake the mind. The melody wakes the heart."
Will I Re-Read: No, but I'm going to read the next book in the series.
A Reduced Review: Darrow must change everything about himself if he hopes to bring down the elitist rulers of his futuristic society; his story is dark, dystopian, and will keep you guessing.