Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The Reds know that their work underground will eventually mean that Mars will be habitable. They mine the valuable resources needed for terraforming. Yes, their life is hard. Food is always short. Injury rate is high. Death comes young. An elder is one who lives to older than 30. But the Golds who govern praise them for their work for the future. Darrow, 16, is a respected Helldiver, driving the dangerous digging machine. He is married to the woman who loved her all her life, Eo, 14.
Then Darrow’s life crashes around him. He is ready to die. He is rescued from his execution. What he learns then shocks him back to life. He finds a new mission. His life as a Red doesn’t mean what he thought. Humans have a strict caste system. The Silvers are the guards. The High Reds are the servants. The Pinks are the pleasure class. There are more, but the top are the Gold. At the pinnacle are the Peerless Scarred Golds. Darrow has a chance to topple the caste system. But it will take pain and deceit and battles and shifting loyalties and more pain. Does he have the inner strength it will take? Can he hold on to his core strength and source of vengeance?
Darrow agrees to try. He can’t imagine what is next.
Red Rising is the next step above Hunger Games. Pierce Brown has devised a society that tests itself at all levels. The castes are unequal in more than their jobs and tools. Darrow has to prove himself in a society that looks at him as less than nothing. The strength he attains in the tunnels is put to the test as he faces a group of 1200 combatants.
The battles of the 1200 are chilling. By the time the participants are on the battlefield the day after they arrive, they are culled to 600. Think of all the atrocities from our past – Brown shows that history repeats itself. Of this group, it doesn’t matter if everyone lives or dies. It matters that one person rises above the others. A lot of the violence is on the page – fortunately some happens off page although is made clear (multiple rapes, for example).
Red Rising is a book that is hard to put down yet at times the reader has to put it down to get away from the action. The reader is forced to look at mankind and into his/her self. Brown is able to twist the reader’s thoughts and feelings as Darrow works through these first tests. This is only the first novel of a trilogy. It will be interesting (and probably scary) to see what happens in the next book, Golden Son.
Darrow is a strong, sympathetic character. He has to harden himself to take on the tests he faces in Red Rising. He faces his flaws and weaknesses as well as his strengths. He knows what he has to do in order to free his people. It won’t be easy, nor happen overnight. Darrow starts the journey in Red Rising.
Notice: Graphic violence, Strong language, Suggestive dialogue or situations