This book was mentioned on a message board I frequent. The commenters were very excited because it's sequel, Golden Son, had just been released and were praising Red Rising to high heaven. So I took the bait having to know what all the fuss was about, and after reading it's intriguing blurb I bought my own copy. Guess I like it when the protagonist finds out his/her entire life has been a lie. Hehe.
I had a hard time getting into it at first. I kept wondering what all the fuss was about. It was tedious reading, so many heirarchies and odd names and terms in the world-building Brown does makes it a hard slog. Until you get used to it.
Some people are calling this a YA book - I wouldn't. Just because the protagonist is only 16 doesn't make it a YA book - besides he doesn't act like any 16 year old I ever knew.
Darrow is a 16 year old low Red - the lowest in the colorful caste system. He's also a hard working Hell Diver and has been working in the mines, surviving deadly pit viper bites, and living underground Mars his entire life. He's also a married man. They marry young down there. Darrow is content with his world, working hard for his family and the benefit of mankind's future. His only desire is to earn the coveted production award so his family can reap the reward of more food and other luxury items. He mines helium-3 to be used in terraforming Mars for future generations. He has no idea that he is actually a slave.
His wife, Eo, yearns for more than the life of a Red and wants more for her people than to be slaves for the higher colors - the elite. She longs to be free and she shows Darrow there is more to their world than he is aware of. Her gift of that knowledge causes problems for them both and ultimately gets her killed, leading Darrow on a journey he didn't want and isn't ready for.
He has to become a Gold, one of the ruling class, and beat them at their own game.
These books have been referred to as having shades of The Hunger Games, Ender's Game and Game of Thrones. I'd add in a little Lord of the Flies for good measure.
Darrow ends up at the Institute - a school for the only the best and brightest children of the ruling Gold class intended to turn them into the leaders of the future.
In actuality it ends up more of a kill or be killed game. On the second day of school he has to kill another student in order to advance to the game that is intended to make the strong stronger and the weak dead or turned into slaves. Friendships and alliances sometimes leave Darrow forgetting why he is there, but the treachery of the Praetors (the teachers) always manages to remind him. Lots of graphic violence ensues as Darrow eventually turns their game on its head.
As hard as it was to get into, I did really end up enjoying this book and as I finished it I really wanted to know what happens next for Darrow. The more I think about it, however, I find there were inconsistencies in the ending that leave me hesitating. I'm currently undecided on whether or not I want to read Golden Son.
Many have called Red Rising a must read. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but I did enjoy it and still find myself thinking about it.
Want to check out Red Rising for yourself? Click here to find it on Amazon.
What is your Must Read dystopian novel? Please tell me in the comments or share your thoughts with me at TheRealABShepherd@hotmail.com.
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.
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