It took me a while to get my hands on Pierce Brown’s book ‘Red Rising‘. While my most recent reads have been YA Fantasy, this is heading back to my roots in YA Science Fiction. I did not know what to expect with this book, and can only describe it as a futuristic space ‘Hunger Games’.
“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 already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks 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
After reading a lot of fantasy over the last few months I really enjoyed switching it up and reading some Science Fiction. Red Rising is an amazing piece of fiction. Brown creates a world where humanity goes back hundreds of years culturally, despite progressing technologically to the stage where they have colonized Mars and the moon. Society on Mars has been modeled very much like the British Colonies of the past, using slavery and a class system to control the population, whiling keeping them in the dark about what is happening in the outside world and other colonies.
We initially start off with Darrow in the Red mines, where the people are divided into smaller clans and compete against each other to mine the most resources to receive rewards-food, clothing and medical supplies.Darrow, his beautiful an intelligent wife Eo and his family live in poverty-not extreme poverty, but poverty none the less. After his clan is denied the prize for mining the most resources, the Laurel, even though they should have won, everything changes. Darrow and Eo are caught in a restricted area and she is executed. After being saved from his own death after disobeying orders and retrieving her body, he goes out on a quest (with the assonance of an organisation) to avenge Eo and expose the lies and unfairness of this system.
Darrow is an interesting character and arguably not a hero is this story, though we do root for him throughout. We see him transform from the obedient, yet reckless, Red miner into a Gold, cold and ruthless. Golds are physically superior, with superhuman strength and otherworldly beauty. They have power, wealth and believe themselves to be the elite and Godly rulers of the other colours. Their culture to me seems very medieval, in their traditions, the challenges at the institute and even their speech and language used is very aloof and ‘fluffy’- talking about challenge, duels and is so formal in how they address each other.
The first half of the book builds up to the simply amazing scenes at the Institute-the elite school for Golds that trains them to be generals, politicians and leaders. The Institute is where the Hunger Games aspect comes into play. Out of the thousands of Gold youth at the Institute, only half make it past the first challenge, and from there on it is important to impress not only the mentors watching them, but the high ranking military and government officials in hopes of jobs and apprenticeship once they gradate. I won’t discuss much about the challenges, the first in particular is shocking, but the final challenge is a full scale, and very much real, war simulation between each out the Houses at the school. This is my favorite part of the book-combing military strategy, inter- and intra-house politics and action. The climax at the end is fantastic, action packed and completely unexpected. If you are struggling through the beginning of the book, it is all worth it once you reach the Institute and the third challenge.
Red Rising is an amazing work of Science Fiction. The world created, characters and the plot from the beginning to then end kept me hanging on to every page. It can be hard to keep reading some Science Fiction books, as you get overloaded with information and the middle stages can be boring, leading up to an anti-climactic conclusion. Red Rising is the complete opposite and a must read modern YA Science Fiction book.