Title: Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1)
Author: Pierce Brown
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Acquired Via: Publisher
Pierce Brown’s relentlessly entertaining debut channels the excitement of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
“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.
Red Rising is Pierce Brown's dystopian, science fiction debut novel that is set far into the future on the planet Mars. It has been compared to The Hunger Games and Ender's Game. Shockingly, I have to agree with these comparisons (though I usually won't on principle) because Brown gives us a gritty, dark novel that speculates on what human civilization can become and how powerful love can be, no matter how downtrodden the ones feeling it.
Darrow of Lykos is indeed downtrodden. He is a Red - a slave who lives underground mining H3, the future power source, for the higher echelon of society at great personal risk. He is called a Helldiver because of what his work entails. However, he leads a fairly happy life at the beginning of Red Rising, despite the hardships, with his wife, Eo. Both Darrow and Eo are very young, sixteen, but as with any society with a high mortality rate, they are practically adults. This wouldn't be a dystopian novel if there was a happily ever after for our dear couple. Instead of a few blissful years of dangerous work and starvation, Darrow finds himself joining young Golds (the highest class) in their academy for infiltration purposes. (He gets picked up by the rebel movement after some really touching scenes that made me tear up a bit, but I don't want to spoil any of that.)
Dystopian novels wouldn't be dystopian these days without some kind of testing procedure that requires you to kill each other. However, Red Rising is less like The Hunger Games after the initial testing because murder is frowned upon. Rape, mutilation, and other savagery, not so much, but murder is a bit of a no-no. But there are exceptions to every rule, and they are exceptional. Oh, and I meant it about the rape and mutilation bit. I know that bothers some people, so no one can say that no warning was given. This is dystopia for big people, and don't think for a moment that horrible things don't happen in horrible societies. Red Rising really isn't young adult, folks.
Tim Gerard Reynolds does a kick-ass job narrating Red Rising. I wouldn't have really read the book as the Reds being Irish or Scottish immigrants, but Reynolds accent is from thereabouts, and all of the Reds are gingers. Of course they would be Irish! These people love to drink, sing, drink, and dance, and maybe fight a little after drinking. Or Scottish. (Okay, I'll be fair and non-stereotypical as possible by saying that the one Irish fellow that I knew liked to do all of those things to excess, and I'm judging by him. My apologies.) Other than setting up the world-building to make sense, Reynolds has a lovely voice and did a great job with the characters. I would listen to other books he narrates, and I plan on continuing with this series in audio.
Red Rising is a kickass dystopia that gets down to the dark and dirty. If you're not burned out on this trend yet, I highly recommend this book. It's another one that's difficult to put down. Also, can someone get me Golden Son, please?
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an electronic advance reader copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.