by Pierce Brown
Read: February 12 - March 1, 2014
Published: January 28, 2014 by Del Rey (Random House)
Category: Dystopian, war games, male pov, not YA
Series: Red Rising Trilogy 1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
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…
Red Rising quick breakdown:
1) This world building is crazy! The society that Pierce Brown has constructed is incredibly complex. It encompasses the Reds at the very bottom living underground on the planet Mars, all the way to the Golds who are literally at the top - and sometimes hovering over the surface. In between are other color groups with their own unique functions. Each group has its own individual structure, making up an entire society that spans planets. It's not only social, but philosophical, political, physical landscape and even how people look. The details go on. In Red Rising most of the attention is on the Reds and Golds, but I'm hoping we're going to learn even more in future books.
2) Darrow. This book is his journey, or rather rise. It is an intensive experience, filled with a lot of rage and anger. But also loyalty and love. His character is also not ashamed by his own assurity, which is both worrisome at times and also refreshing. He acknowledges an ability to change his perspective, though he also remains the same person with one main objective throughout the book.
3) Romance is a subtle element that underlies the entire plot. There is a loss that influences everything that Darrow does throughout the book. It it is beautiful and painful and is the catalyst for his rise. Then there is something new that comes from a very different direction and will be quite interesting to watch going forward.
4) This is war. Darrow transforms himself from a Red to a Gold and enters the Gold's elite school, determined to succeed at all cost. What he finds is one long war-game. Some of that was a bit slow for me at times, especially when they are in the thick of it in the second fourth of the book. I was more interested in the psychological drama at play, as well as Darrow's relationships, and the ways he changes along with his expanding world view. I especially enjoyed the build up to Darrow's entering the institute, and watching him adapt to his new life. But the full plot was all an integral part of all of these elements, so for that it was fascinating.
5) Relationships shape Darrow's experience more than he ever imagined. Because Darrow infiltrates an enemy society, and is focused on his slow burning rage, I thought he'd be mostly isolated in this book. But this story is populated by people who make huge impressions on him. Darrow makes enemies, but also trusted friends, and he's definitely surprised at times from where they originate.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - definitely mid series. Ends on an anticipatory, but non stressful note.