Review day! But first, the winner of the Exquisite Captive giveaway is Valerie! Congrats!
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Book One of the Red Rising trilogy
Publisher: Del Rey Spectra
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Bought from Amazon
Summary (from Goodreads):
The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, 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.
What I Liked:
Wow! I've had this book on my radar for quite some time, but I didn't want to start the series until all of the books were published. For some reason, I had it in my head that this series would be a long one - but a trilogy really isn't that long at all! I definitely can see what the fuss is all about - this book is EPIC. Why did I wait so long to read it?!
Darrow is a Red, a miner of Mars, who was led to believe that the Miners were the foundation of society, the last hope. But it turns out that Mars is indeed livable (the surface), and the Golds are flourishing at the Reds' expense. Darrow is presented with the opportunity to become a Gold and destroy from within (more like it's thrust upon him, but meh). But the school for the Golds is not quite what anyone expected, and Darrow will have to fight for his life not only to win the game, but to survive.
This book covers a long span of time - two years, at least. Darrow is sixteen in the beginning of the book, a Helldiver, married to his childhood friend and sweetheart. He doesn't believe that the Reds are enslaved or less privileged, but his wife, Eo, does. Something happens and Darrow is sent to hang, but is rescued by a group of rebels. The group convinces Darrow to undergo physically altering procedures to make him a Gold (physically, mentally, intellectually). This takes months. Then he is sent to take the exams to go the Gold people school. When he reaches the school, more tests are administered... in disturbing ways.
Then, Darrow and the surviving Golds are sent to a valley... and basically, it becomes The Lord of the Flies, but worse. There are Houses named after the gods (Mars, Minerva, Diana, etc.), and only one House will remain standing. The goal is to enslave the other Houses (by touching what's called a "standard" to a person's head). One individual will become Primus.
Darrow begins his journey as a Gold with fire in his heart, vengeance in his soul. He wants to kill the ArchGovernor, punish the Golds. But when the game begins, and House Mars battles against other Houses and itself, Darrow starts to see some of the Golds as friends. His resolve wavers, because how can he kill all these Golds when they fight just as hard as he fights (as a Red) for his people?
This book is so deep, so violent, so dense, so heartbreaking, so bittersweet, so powerful. I can see why everyone is clamoring over this book. I think it's technically adult fiction, though Darrow is a teenager. The writing is very different from the writing of Young Adult novels. The content and subject matter seems more... mature, almost. Reds don't live long, so, at sixteen, it makes sense for Darrow to seem like an adult. Heck, he's married.
I really like Darrow. He is extremely smart, observant, clever. He really is the perfect person to be turned into a Gold - he can adapt easily to situations, while keeping things into perspective. I liked watching his character grow, from naive and slightly cocky, to hardened and still slightly cocky. He is a born leader, and it shows, especially in the game.
The content of this book is pretty brutal. Murder, rape, assault, sieges, death death death... there is plenty of blood and gore in the book. It's definitely on a different level, if you were to compare this to a Young Adult novel.
The world-building is so complex and intricate and wonderful! I personally have not read a book too close to the idea and world that Brown has created. Then again, I don't read too much adult fiction novels. But. I found the world-building well-done and the setting very unique.
There is romance in this novel. I won't say more than that, but the progression and development of the novel is very well-written. I liked the romance a lot, especially seeing Darrow's reactions to the his budding feelings.
The story overall is capturing, as much happens throughout the book. In terms of large, major events, it's predictable (like, we expect Darrow to pass the exams to get into the Gold school). But it's the minute, small events that really make the difference. The climax and ending are pretty surprising in some ways. I liked the ending, especially for a first novel in the series.
What I Did Not Like:
This book is nearly four hundred pages, and it really, really feels like it (or maybe even longer). I hit about 40% and was like, seriously, that's all I've read?! It's not like the book was boring - not at all! It just felt sooooo long. And this is coming from someone who is usually fine with long books!
Would I Recommend It:
I definitely recommend this book, especially to futuristic, science fiction fans. It's a very popular book, but for good reason. Usually hype deters me. I liked this book though.
4 stars. Good thing I have book two, Golden Son! Binge-reading commencing... the trouble will come when I finish that one.
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