In today’s post, I am really looking forward to sharing my review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown with you. Having added the book to my reading list in July 2017, I finally got around to reading this first installment in the Red Rising series back in October last year.
I’m glad I took the plunge to start this series, as this first book was absolutely fantastic. I am a huge fan of dystopia and the fantasy/science-fiction genres, so this book was a natural fit. What I didn’t expect, was how bloodydamn good it was!
Red Rising – Pierce Brown
Genre: Dystopia / Science-fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Publisher: Del Ray
Publication Date: 28 Jan 2014
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
I love dystopian fiction, so it’s no surprise that Red Rising was a massive hit for me. Darrow and his people have been lied to their whole lives. They work, believing they are sacrificing themselves for a future society. However, soon in the narrative, it comes to light that civilisation began on Mars long ago, and yet the labour of the Reds has continued with them kept in the dark, and for little reward.
Eo, a young woman living in Red society, dreams for more. She sacrifices herself and in doing so, begins a revolution. Darrow is, under normal circumstances, quite a placid young man. However, when the society he slaves for kills his wife for daring to speak up against them, it inspires a hatred that lives up to his caste – deep and red and raging.
Reading the synopsis of this book is one thing, but I didn’t expect the narrative of this book to pan out the way it did. I really enjoyed it and it is refreshing to have a synopsis hinting as to what is going to happen, but is vague enough that it’s not obvious at the time.
I really enjoyed Darrow’s character development arc in this book. At the beginning, he is just a man who slaves away to eke out a small existence. But his life quickly turns to tragedy, and rather than lying down in the dirt, he digs deep within himself to have the courage to try and drive change. Darrow finds himself in a world he didn’t even know existed.
I also really enjoyed the combination of dystopia and science-fiction. These two genres work very well together, and for good reason. The technological advances that benefit the gold society are far beyond those we see in the modern world today. In comparison, the Reds live far worse than we do. The contrast between these two societies is stark – perhaps even exaggerated to an extent.
If you enjoy a lot of action in your novels, then red rising has plenty of that on offer. The passing of the book makes it a quick read, as there is plenty going on at any given moment.
Even so, the action doesn’t detract from the world-building and character development that also takes place in this book.
There is a great balance of both, making for a good, or rounded, introduction to a dystopian science-fiction series that I want to read more of. At the point of writing this review, I have already read the second book, Golden Son. It didn’t quite live up to the same expectations after this introduction. However, I’m going to continue with it for at least one more book to see if it picks up again.
Have you read Red Rising or any other books in the series? Let me know in the comments.