Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher/Year: Random House Publishing 7/15/14
Length: 401 pages
Series: Red Rising #1
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds 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 sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
I love this first installment to the series. There’s a lot of complexity of what we can really call it since it’s clearly a mix of dystopia, sci-fi and YA, but all in all, it’s one of my favorite blends of a series. The description tells us that it’s a bit Hunger Games and a bit Enders Game and i’d have to say that it’s not a bad description.
We are introduced to our main character Darrow who’s a Red – the lowest of the low in caste on Mars, and he’s trying to show that his ‘neighborhood’ in the underground which is the least fortunate can actually accomplish things. It’s when his drilling team actually collects more valuables than the Gammas which are the highest of the Reds, that he thinks the tides are turning, yet his clan still doesn’t get the rewards of that. His wife Eo tries to get him to see that there is something worth fighting for here, and of course that leads to her death and his (in a sense).
That’s kind of where the meat of our story begins. It’s after Darrow is killed that we see that maybe what he knew isn’t quite accurate. He’s brought back to life since he wasn’t fully dead, and he’s transformed into a Gold – the highest of the highs in caste on Mars, to help further the objectives of a rebellion of sorts. It’s also at this point in time when he realizes that Mars is much more established and colonized than anyone knew – the life above is actually something quite extravagant, yet there are all these awful motives to doing things – and it’s his job as a pawn to try to insert himself into society and beat the system.
This is kind of where the Hunger Games bit comes through, and there’s another series that i liken this to – The Testing, where you’re seeing ‘survival of the fittest’ and whatever else you want to call it.
The bulk of the story from this point on is where Darrow has gone through his transformation to look the part of a Gold, gets into the Institute with the goal of getting an apprenticeship and then a position in the high government of sorts so that the rebellion party (Ares) can overthrow things.
What’s nice about this story is that we see that while Darrow is a Red at heart, he adapts to be a Gold, yet never loses the best parts of who he was – his bond to Eo his deceased wife, and the goal that he’s been put here to deliver on. He does however fight his own internal battles time and time again because he sees that he’s becoming a monster of sorts – when he’s put into positions to be a leader, yet may have to kill to maintain that role. It’s only when he looks back at his lineage, as a Red, to really find the best justice and lead by example.
Where this first installment goes is not surprising at all, but the journey is one that really sets us up to understand how the different relationships that he makes are going to help continue the story. There’s lore of The Jackal that he’s trying to understand, there’s Mustang who can’t be all that she seems, there’s Sevro who’s parentage is an interesting twist in the story and there’s Cassius who we want to see come to terms with things and switch sides, but don’t know if it’s possible.
The ending – that’s something that i can’t wait to see how it plays out. There’s a lot of choices put in front of Darrow to further his goals in this game, and i think that he surprises a lot of folks in what he does and the speed in which he makes his decisions, but i think that there are going to be so many ramifications that will really take this story in an interesting and complex direction. So on that note, i’m super pleased that the 2nd and 3rd books are out already so i can just dive right in and continue the story. Have a great day all!