Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising, #1
Format: Paperback, bought
My rating: 4 / 5
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.
-- As seen on Goodreads
I read Red Rising quite a while ago and I made the mistake of not writing a review straight away. I remember loving the story at the time, but I have a feeling this review won’t be quite as gushing as it would have been if I’d written it back in March.
The world building was easily my favourite thing about the book. The best way I can describe the story is if you put Harry Potter and The Hunger Games in a blender with a handful of Roman gods, blitz them together and throw the result 500-plus years into the future and set the story on Mars. And I really liked it! Despite the familiar HP and THG vibes, the story manages to bring lots of uniqueness to the table, which is always a good thing.
Darrow is the main character, and while I did like him as a narrator while I was reading, looking back on it now I’m a bit unsure why I liked him. I mean, there wasn’t anything that particularly bothered me about him, and in a way I think that’s the problem. When the book began he seemed quite interesting and I was looking forward to seeing how his character was going to develop. I really liked the Reds and the Helldiver aspect and then… things changed and he becomes all nice and polished and perfect. This makes sense for the faceless leader of a rebellion, but as a character in a book I’m supposed to care and root for, well, not so much.
Just thinking of the secondary characters for a second, I found myself more curious about their stories rather than Darrow’s. I really liked Mustang and hopefully she will have a main role in the sequel. I’m thinking of quite a few other characters right now, but I won’t mention them just in case I cross the line into spoiler territory.
He wasn’t in the book that much, but from what I have seen, Sevro is perfection and needs to be protected at all costs. That is all. Oh, and also the Howlers! I have a feeling they’ll be in future books, and I can’t wait to find out more about them.
Writing-style and pacing: Maybe it’s just me, but Red Rising was A LOT slower paced than I was expecting. Also the writing style, while really good, took me a while to like and enjoy. The first hundred pages or so seemed a bit… tense? Uptight? Maybe a little bit too structured? But after that, things slowly started to relax and the natural flow of the story took over and I began to really enjoy the book.
Trusting Pierce Brown is a bad idea, right!? Seriously, though! I mean, with all the characters he had no problem killing in this book I’m slightly terrified of what he has come up with for the rest of the trilogy! Also, can I just say, he’s a genius for planting VERY subtle clues. There were quite a few times when I was surprised when something was revealed, but I felt like I should have seen it coming as the clues were there, I just didn’t connect them because I was distracted by a billion other things. I love unpredictability like this, and it was SO well done!
Overall, I really enjoyed Red Rising, and now that I’ve finally written a review for it, I’m starting to remember why I enjoyed it so much. I do remember finishing the final few pages thinking I needed to get my hands on Golden Son ASAP. Well, fast forward eight months and I haven’t read it yet. (Oops?) I do plan on changing this status as soon as I can, and hopefully I’ll be able to complete the trilogy next year.