Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Red Rising (Red Rising #1)

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 9:52 PM

Age: Adult / Young Adult
Category: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Rosie Thinks: I'm going to start this review off strong by saying: this is the best book I've read this year. And this is my favourite YA book of all time. I know my review isn't going to do it justice, but I'm gonna try!

I know I'm quite late to this Red Rising craze - I've seen glowing reviews for this book everywhere, and I did give it a go when it first came out. And I had this ridiculous assumption that I didn't like it, when in reality I read the first page then got distracted by something else (a very common occurence, for me). I'm sure this is what happened, because by the time the first chapter was over, I was hooked.

The premise for this story is: Darrow, our MC, is a Red. He's spent his whole life toiling below the ground on Mars, mining a precious gas that will help make Mars and other planets habitable. He and the other Reds believe they're Earth's last hope, but after a series of events put into motion by the death of his wife, Darrow realises that his life has been a lie - Mars and the rest of the solar system has been habitable for years, and the Reds are being used so the aristocratic Golds can live out their decadent lives at the top of the food chain. With this knowledge, Darrow is recruited into a rebel group and plans to infiltrate into the Golds' command school and bring the whole system down.
And this is just what happens in the first few chapters. The rest of the book is absolutely nothing like what I imagined. Pierce Brown took my preconceived ideas, and threw them out the window. I was expecting the usual YA fantasy book where nothing really bad actually happens, and the MC is sidetracked by their fairly stereotypical love interest, and everything ends in happiness and sunshine. But that was not what I got at all. Instead, this story is brimming with originality and incredible storytelling. This book is said to be 'Enders Game meets the Hunger Games', but I really dislike calling it that. Many books nowadays are spinoffs of the greats of their genre, but Red Rising is in a class of its own, originality-wise.

I have a serious weakness for intelligent characters, but so many authors out there tell me their character is smart, but don't really back it up with any action. That is not so in Red Rising. The command school Darrow is infiltrating is filled with the best of the best of the Golds - meaning the most intelligent, ruthless, and powerful of an already intelligent, ruthless and powerful Colour. And I truly believed it of every character. Brown's characterisation is masterful, and through witty dialogue and sharp narrative, each character is perfectly created. Darrow could have easily become a caricature of anger and vengeance, but he's personified in a way that gives him depth and makes you truly feel for him. He is definitely not perfect and he makes numerous mistakes throughout the novel, but he learns from them. Who doesn't love a flawed, reluctant hero? I couldn't help but cheer him on and truly connect with him from the beginning. Honestly, I could read about him for a dozen more books, but sadly this is just a trilogy.

I mentioned before that this isn't one of those books where nothing truly bad happens. This book is vicious. Half the characters in this book are possible psychopaths, and they're all pitted against each other in a ruthless game. So yes, bad things definitely do happen. This book is about the truly deprave way humans can act, when survival is in the equation. There's heartache, suffering and despair galore, but there's also truly beautiful moments that make the rest all worth it. The storyline is seriously epic, sweeping along at a fast pace, and you never really know what's going to happen next. The author puts Darrow into the worst of the worst situations, ones you can't imagine him ever getting out of, and Darrow manages to in a way that is realistic, intelligent and thrilling.

I highly recommend this book to every lover of sci-fi, fantasy or dystopia. This first book is mostly fantasy/war/dystopia, but the second gets more sci-fi - I don't even like sci-fi yet I was still hooked! Red Rising is a ruthless view into hierarchy and survival, based around a vicious war game where the contestants have forgotten it's only a game, and I can't get enough of it!


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