Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Saga, #1
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the colour-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 liveable 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 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Darrow is content with his life. He’s never seen the surface of Mars but he knows the work he’s doing terraforming the planet is important, that it means one day his children will be able to walk on the surface of the planet. However when his wife’s desire for change, for a better life for their people, gets her killed Darrow is recruited by the Sons of Ares and discovers the Golds have been lying to his people for years.
This was the second time I picked up Red Rising so I found it a lot easier to get into the story when I knew what was coming. The first time I read this book I very nearly DNF-ed it, simply because of the slow set up at the beginning of the story. We’re introduced to Darrow and discover more about the world he lives in and the nuances of the colour system that has been formed on Mars, which is all information we need to move the story forwards but makes for a slow moving plot.
The planet that Darrow and his fellow Reds have been risking their lives to terraform is already inhabited by the higher colours. To take them down, to avenge Eo’s death, Darrow becomes one of the Golds and joins their institute where the next generation of leaders prove themselves. However it’s a brutal game Darrow finds himself playing, and the line inside him between Red and Gold starts to blur as he plans to bring down his enemies from the inside.
It’s only after the revelation that the Golds have been living on the surface of Mars like kings that the plot picks up pace, and from there it doesn’t slow down at all as Darrow enters the institute and rises up over the other Golds as a force to be reckoned with. There was so much danger in this first book, so many unpredictable twists, that I was never sure who would survive the institute which made for an addictive story.
Darrow goes through an incredible transformation in this first book and we travel with him as he becomes a force to be reckoned with, each day in the institute among the Golds changing him more and more. As a Low Red Darrow was a boy who couldn’t find the strength to save his wife, but as a Gold he conquers the trials he faces in the games and turns into an aggressive yet respected leader.
However that’s not to say he’s infallible. Darrow makes mistakes, he creates allies only to lose them but he doesn’t let his failings defeat him he just comes back stronger than before. He is a tough character, determined and brutal, and uses the memory of his wife and her dream to keep him going even when all the odds are against him.
I really like Darrow’s character, he had some incredible development in Red Rising, however I felt that Eo could have been better developed. Darrow and Eo talk about bringing change to the Reds but Eo chooses to rebel in a way that she knows will mean she is executed, a way many Reds before her have rebelled, and it made her death seem pointless. In my mind Eo wasn’t given much depth or personality other than as a means to move Darrow forwards and give him a reason to want the Gold’s destroyed.
There were a lot of interesting characters in the institute, each of them having their own unique relationship with Darrow. Cassius is Darrow’s closest friend, but there is a secret Darrow is keeping from him that could destroy the brotherhood the two have. Mustang goes from enemy to uneasy ally to close confidant as the months spent in the trial forge new friendships and rivalries. Jackal is an unknown enemy, casting his shadow over every move Darrow makes in the game.
Other than Darrow my favourite character in Red Rising was Sevro. He is constantly overlooked, not only by his house but also by his competition, due to the fact that he isn’t a ‘perfect Gold’ but he’s vicious with a very cunning mind. Sevro becomes one of Darrow’s main supports and remains incredibly loyal to him as the game unfolds.
I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between Red Rising and The Hunger Games and while there are some similarities, mainly children being put into an arena for a brutal competition, there are more differences. The world created in Red Rising is incredibly well written, and a lot of thought has been put into the history and the reasons behind the war on Earth. There’s plenty of politics in Red Rising, not only when it comes to the statuses of the different colours but also inside the institute. As Darrow rises to the top there are plenty of people, both inside the games and outside, waiting for him to make the wrong move so they can knock him down before he gets too powerful.
If you can get past the slow start to Red Rising then I feel like I can guarantee this will end up being a favourite book of yours. The character development is amazing, the world building incredibly detailed, and the plot very addictive when the story finally picks up pace. Red Rising was a brilliant start to this series, and it’s left a lot open for the second book in the trilogy.
What did you think of Red Rising? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.