There’s been a lot of recent hullaballoo about Red Rising. Pierce Brown is young and handsome and eloquent and has a lot to say about the world he has created in Red Rising, which I’m sure is making movie studios salivate at the prospect of finally producing the next Hunger Games franchise. But Red Rising is a lot more than a potential movie series starring very attractive young people. There’s some real writing talent here.
What exactly is Red Rising about? Well. Its about a future society on Mars, and the civil unrest that exists between the classes. Its about the government taking the best and brightest and forcing them to fight to become the leaders of tomorrow. Take the political strife and personal sacrifice of The Hunger Games, the manipulation of children for the purposes of battle from Ender’s Game, the political maneuverings of A Song of Fire and Ice, the mythology of the Percy Jones books, and then toss in some inspirational Braveheart/Henry V speeches. And then mix it all together and top it off with a huge pile of bat-shit crazy killing from Battle Royale. That’s Red Rising.
To be honest, I wasn’t too into it at first. It starts out a story about a boy named Darrow, who is a member of the lowest class of Mars’ society, the Reds (class is based on “color” — reds are low, golds are high. Anything lower than gold is more or less a slave.). Darrow lives in the mines of Mars, living a quiet (yet very poor) life with his wife, Eo. Eo shows him a glimpse of what life outside of the mines is like, and that just maybe the government hasn’t been completely honest with them. When his world turns upside down and he is shown that life on Mars really isn’t all that it seems, everything changes. Darrow is used as a pawn: through many lengthy and painful surgeries, he is turned into a “gold” fighter, and sent as a spy to infiltrate the extremely selective institute where the best of the best are trained to lead. The end goal is to bring down society from the inside, leading to a potential revolution and end to the color caste system.
At this point, I wasn’t 100% sold on this story.
Well, the less said, the better. Darrow is chosen for entry to the prestigious academy, and then all hell literally breaks loose. The academy isn’t quite what any of the gold students expect. At all. And at this point, I couldn’t put the book down. The last 70% of the story is out of control. But in a good way.
I did have a few minor quibbles with this book. Many times, plots and characters were simply thrust into the story without any introduction or background. It took me a while to get used to this style of exposition (the first few times, I had to go back and check…had I met this character before? Did we already learn about this? No? OK.), but after a while, I simply got used to it. My other complaint? There is so much going on here, that when the next book comes out I’m going to have to do a re-read in order to prepare.
Please note: this book isnt’ for the feint of heart. It is at times brutal and violent. I noticed that it wasn’t in the YA section of my library, but rather in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, which I think is for the best.