This is the first time since The Passage that my brain has DEMANDED MORE when I’ve gotten to the end of a Book 1. I want, I want, I want.
I freaking fracking loved Red Rising, and it was a huge surprise to me, because as per uzh, I had totally forgotten what the book was about by the time it was checked out to me, making it a totally shocking, harsh deep dive into an incredibly complete and consuming future dystopia.
There’s a lot in Red Rising that’s familiar, but somehow none of it feels redundant or derivative. It’s the story of a young man in a slave colony on Mars whose young wife is executed for breaking the law, and in her death becomes a symbol of the spirit of the lower races (think: the song of the mockingjay in The Hunger Games). Let me backtrack a little further: in this world, it is 800 years since humans have colonized the planets, and society has been divided into a caste system that is visually un-avoidable because the mastery of eugenics is super hardcore, so if you’re born a Pink, you have pink eyes and a pink birthmark, for example. Pinks are the physical-service race (whores), Greens are the STEM peoples, Obsidians are the soldiers, etc. Most important to this story: Reds are the slaves, and Golds are the rulers.
I think it’s no mistake that “Gold” reads as “God,” when you’re reading quickly. Golds have been genetically engineered over generations to be taller, stronger, faster, more beautiful, smarter, and crueler than any of the other races. Reds, on the other hand, have been engineered to be small and weak, and to obey. But this particular young man, a hotshot miner fueled by passion, rage, and the memory of his beautiful young wife, is conscripted by the Resistance to infiltrate the Golds and tear it all down.
Like I said, it’s not new. And the setting of this first book is also very familiar: if The Hunger Games took place on the Hogwarts grounds, and everyone was a willing participant, and had the bodies and brains of gods, you’d have Red Rising. But it is so freaking thrilling, and complicated, and well-written, it carves itself a brand new space. And it really does feel like just the beginning, as if this entire book is the set-up for something even more electrifying. I want the next one in my brain right now.