by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
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Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future 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 joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
Red Rising is a brilliant dystopian and the first in the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown. From the depths below Mars’ surface to the hills of Olympus; Brown melded science-fiction, complex characters and outstanding world-building in this tale that left me spent and begging for more. Mini review: Epic world-building, brutal, and enthralling with whiffs of a darker Hunger Games.
The tale begins beneath Mars’ crust where men and woman are born and die helping to mine minerals needed to prepare Mars’ surface for humans to one day occupy it. Darrow is a red, the lowest caste in this future society. He digs and sacrifices for the greater good of man. He does so for you, for me, for your children’s children. It is all a lie. Humanity has been living on the surface for generations. He and his fellow Reds are nothing more than slaves for the ruling class. Events cause Darrow to join the resistance, where he will infiltrate the ruling class. The tale that unfolds is brutal, spectacular and spellbinding.
Darrow is such a complex hero. We witness the changes in him like the changing of the seasons. We see him adapt and outwit as he works to contain his rage. We feel his emotions; suffer with him when he is betrayed, laugh even as it breaks him, and weep when the loss becomes to great. Brown makes us experience it all. We meet colors from all the castes. Some we loathe, some make us laugh and others freak us out as we slowly shiver and back away. The author does an excellent job of giving them a voice. Even those we wish to hate, we come to understand and admire. While the tale can be brutal, there is humor and pain. The character Pax au Telemanus is a fine example of the emotions Pierce brings to the reader through his characters. He made me laugh, giggle aloud and even weep. I absolutely loved that the characters wrought all kinds of emotions from me. Each character had depth and I was completely captivated by their stories.
Red Rising is a dark dystopian, with elements of science fiction and high fantasy. With its epic world-building and Mars setting I was caught up in this compelling and complex society. For those who love solid, controlled world-building you will be impressed. From the castes to the leaders the world is fleshed out, leaving me little to question and yet aching for more. Brown takes us through their society as he exposes the flaws, politics, and drive for control. We see the brutal reality of power and its corruption. Even as we hope Darrow succeeds we feel for others, become angered by the political games and feel the chains of the casting system. This is dark, at times violent, and there is very little light. Brown had me rooting for the underdog and hoping for a better society. The tale ended at a good point and gave us a sense of where the second novel will begin. I for one can hardly wait.
Red Rising begins an epic journey that will captivate its audience. When the dust settles on the Dystopian genre I have no doubt that Red Rising will be standing among the best. At this time, book two has no set release date and remains untitled. Already it is one of my most anticipated books.