Red Rising

Red Rising by Pierce Brown, Red Rising Trilogy #1

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars, generations of people who spend 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. 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 at Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day 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.

 If you have been active in the current blogosphere and publicity of Hodder and Stoughton and Hodderscape, Red Rising shouldn't have escaped you attention. Red Rising is the first book in a new young adult dystopian science fiction series, the Red Rising Trilogy and marks the debut of Pierce Brown in the genre fiction. The synopsis of the book really build a certain tension that made me feel like something big was about to happen... 

Red Rising takes place in the future on the planet of Mars, where you follow the story of the main protagonist Darrow, who works in the caves underneath the surface of Mars as an Helldiver. Extracting minerals and elements from these depths that are required to terraform (make other planets inhabitable) other planets. Darrow has been born and bred in these depths and doesn't know anything other than mining. From the word go you are thrown in a rich story that immediately introduces you to the hardships that Darrow, his family and his friends face each and every day. And if I say hardship well that's saying it nicely. Everyday Darrow has to preform at it's best to mine as much as possible for their totals, the best mining division is granted the Laurel, a sort of award that coincides with more resources such a food. But this lastest quarter, Darrow really did his best and they should have gotten the Laurel but they are cheated out of it... This causes a lot of stirring for Darrow and his firends but Darrow doesn't let that make him feel down, deep down you can feel that Darrow would more than happily punch the Gold in the face who took away their prestige but, Darrow knows better, sitting and moping about it will not get you anywhere, he will just do his best again next quarter. This is actually a nasty game played by the Golds as they make it quite a psychological game, "maybe you can win it next time". But soon after this, Darrow's life starts to spiral downwards as he looses his wife Eo... This is a turning point in the book as Darrow doesn't see his lief worthwhile anymore, maybe luckily for Darrow, others do see the value in his life and he is brought back with a much higher goal that he had heretofore dared to imagine. 

This above mentioned event is not only life changing for Darrow but for you as a reader as well. The whole premise that you were led to believe was true is changed... Darrow is rescued by a group of rebels and they have plans to turn him into a Gold. Only he has the biology make up that will allow them to give him wings... But don't think that this part of the story takes place under the surface of Mars, no, you are taken up to the surface, and you will be surprised and perhaps shocked at the same time as what you will encounter there. This transformation really helped to play into the whole dystopian-supressing setting of the book. From here onwards Pierce Brown only starts to build-up even more tension and pacing in the storyline, introducing you to a lot more history and different characters. I was already quite impressed with how he captured the lives of the Red's mining, but the whole civilization that he shows later on. wow. Now I do have to stop talking about the story else I will reveal to much but I could go on about it for hours!

Now I did have a small reservation when I first read the intentions that the rebels had with Darrow. In some books that I have read, similar transformation were done in under a few hours or in the blink of an eye, and what I like to see is characters developing and really growing into their new roles, and this is exactly what Pierce Brown did. The second part of the book really helped to establish the new character of Darrow, he is back to school to learn all how a Gold should behave. And not only does this proof to be an important lesson for Darrow. You as a reader also get to know much more about the world itself, a double plus right there.

You have heard the terms Red and Gold in this review for quite a few times already. But what are they exactly? Pierce Brown introduces a sort of hiearchal system in Red Rising, based on your heritage you are placed in different color categories ranging from Red, Gold, White, Blue, Pink and many others. Each one has a different task to preform. Darrow is/was Red. The Reds are solely tasked with mining minerals, they are the lowest of the low and in the mines they are the lowReds but in the upper society they are called highReds, directly opposite to the Red are the prestige, rich Golds, they control everything and when you talk badly about or to them well your life might easily become forfeit.. yes it's brutal. I really liked the idea behind using such a color-coded society, it definitely adds a lot of flavor to the story and when you see how dangerous the Golds are you really start to fear and feel sorrow for the oppressed other colors. 

With the young adult audience in the back of it's mind, Red Rising, has a clear build-up of the story with the four different parts, showing nicely the development of both Darrow into his new role but also showing the transition of the story itself. I think this is really important if you want to write an engaging story intended for a younger audience. The writing style of Pierce Brown did take some getting used to for me to be honest, it wasn't bad or wrong in anyway, Pierce Brown clearly shows that he has a unique writing style. Its almost part lyrical. Once I got used to this writing style I think the whole story just resonated that much stronger for me.

The ending of Red Rising really put a smile on my face, if you look at Darrow's character development, all that he has gone through, the beatings, finding his determination and perseverance again and again, trying get closer to his eventual goal. Pierce Brown wrote a clever ending that I and many other fans are more than eager to explore in Golden Prince the sequel to Red Rising, published later this year (TBC).

As you can make up from the above words, I really enjoyed reading Red Rising, I am not that familiar yet with young adult dystopian and haven't read neither Ender's Game nor The Hunger Games, so I can't make an comparison. What I can say however is that Pierce Brown wrote a powerful first entry in an exciting and fresh new series. What makes Red Rising even better is that this is Pierce Brown's debut, if he can put down such a story already I am eager to see where he will take his story as the series progresses. Pierce Brown has set a high bar for himself, but I have full confidence he will be able to raise it higher with Golden Prince. Red Rising has a set of great characters, and interesting world and features some very cool idea's, I haven't broached the subject of the science fiction influence with the gadgets and all but I can guarantee that this is also top notch. Make sure you get a copy of on the most talked about books of this moment, you wont be disappointed!


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