Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 4.32
Published: Jan. 28th, 2014
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...
"This is the future. It should not be this way for generations. My life is a lie."
Red Rising is the kind of book that makes you run to your friend's house just so you can thrust your copy into their arms and make them start reading it on the spot. Read it now bloodydamn, read it now. It's a strong read from beginning to end. Red Rising reminds me of Insignia by S. J. Kincaid in the way it is written. It is serious, imaginative, at times it can be quite hilarious, it can catch you off guard, and when you read it you get totally invested in the story. Read it in one sitting.
"You brave Red pioneers of Mars-strongest of the human breed-sacrifice for progress, sacrifice to pave the way for the future. Your lives, your blood, are a down payment for the immortality of the human race as we move beyond Earth and Moon. You go where we could not. You suffer so that others do not."
The summary is a pretty good indicator of what goes on in the novel so I feel like I don't need to add anything further. Once Darrow infiltrates this command school he and the rest of his class will be put through a series of tests that will measure his cunningness, ruthlessness, and leadership skills. The battlefield is exactly that, a battlefield. This part of the novel reminds me of The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau in which the best of the best, or the best of the Golds, are rounded up, thrown into a battlefield, and ordered to survive and win. But still Red Rising differs in the end goal, for the Gold children are told they must conquer civilizations and not just cross the end goal. All of this is set with a backdrop of wars between planets in space so it also has another sci-fi layer unto it.
Not only does Red Rising have a terrific plot but it also has characters you will come to care about. Darrow always seems to rise to the occasion. When he does something wrong, makes a mistake, he always learns from it and builds upon it. His struggles and pains will get to you, an you will cheer for him throughout the whole novel. Red Rising also has a strong list of supporting characters-Roque, Cassius, Sevro (he is definitely my favorite), Mustang (kick-ass chick alert!), Nyla, Milia, Pax (love!). They all have very distinct personalities and I came to care for every single one individually. On the other hand there are a LOT of characters, SO MANY NAMES, and most of them are so freaking weird! If not weird they are ridiculously similar. Sometimes I had to go back in order to reassure myself what exactly was going on and who was speaking. So there's that.
Fair warning, things in Red Rising get ugly. A lot of characters die and their deaths are described in perfect detail. So it can get gory. Some characters may lose eyes, ears, hands... It's a battlefield after all, and there are always casualties in war.
Red Rising is like The Testing (Joelle Charbonneau), Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), and Insignia (S. J. Kincaid), came together and had an illegitimate child. It is quite awesome in that it combines all the best elements from these novels and makes something completely new. It's sci-fi meets dystopian meets political war meets mythological origins. There's a lot of mythological influences behind Red Rising as each of the 12 houses bear the name of a mythological god or goddess and their students are thus chosen based on how their attributes fit set house.
A lot of the philosophies and struggles inside the pages resonates with the world today. The rich building their future in the backs of the poor, from their hard work and struggles. It makes you think. It also touches upon how the rich keep the masses in blissful ignorance, fat and happy, just to further increase their power. It touches on society's vanity, greed, selfishness, and the importance we put on things we don't really need but are made to think we do (via advertising mostly).
So Red Rising might just be the best debut novel of 2014, hands down. I strongly recommend you all give it a shot. I myself cannot wait until Golden Son hits the shelves! 2015, I'm gunning for you.
"...perhaps they think I'm still a child. The fools. Alexander was a child when he ruined his first nation."