Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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.

Rating:

A

*I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review and honestly? I BLOODYDAMN LOVED IT*

You think you’ve read a dystopian book? Quit lying to yourself. That was teenage angst wrapped in a shiny new package, cashing in on the popularity of this genre.

You think you’ve read about evil futuristic regimes? Nope, those were one dimensional villains that will look cartoony compared the assholes in this book.

You think you’ve seen hurt and suffering and despair and heartache? You’ve seen nothing.

You think you’ve seen to the very depths of the depravity mankind is capable of? YOU’VE SEEN NOTHING.

I won’t call this book “The Next Hunger Games” and nor should anyone else, in my opinion. But I’m sure some degenerate in a PR office will think it’s a great idea. My advice? Don’t listen to that douchebag. To do so would be insulting to Red Rising.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Hunger Games and there are a few parallels between that series and this book. Even so, this book shouldn’t be compared to anything. This book is what it is and it stands alone on a desolate field surrounded by the burning embers of its lessers because this book is just…more. It’s harder, darker, more emotional, more horrific, more…everything.

Pierce Brown, how the hell do you expect me to read something else after this? Or sit around and wait for the next installment? Are you writing it? Is it already done? Is it half done? Are you in need of an amateur editor??? I’m the girl for the job! Pick me! MEEEEEE!!!!

FYI, my version of editing will be to drool over whatever you produce and provide zero constructive feedback while demanding you write faster and trying to hide the intensity and frequency of my eye twitches. Also, there may be threats involving tofu for “motivational” purposes.

You probably want to know what it’s about, right? Okay, I’ll try to settle down.

The story takes place on Mars, inside a futuristic colony. Our main character, Darrow, is the youngest Helldiver in memory and he operates a massive and massively complicated drill-like piece of machinery deep within the sulfurous bowels of the planet. He’s a Red, the caste of people relegated to living like moles.

When we meet him, he’s under the impression that he and all of his caste are digging Helium3 so that one day the surface above will be hospitable for future generations. Even though he’s just sixteen, he’s married and madly in love with his equally young bride, Eo. Hearing about her through his perspective, you understand why. She’s vibrant and beautiful and charming and witty and fierce, the sunshine that lights up their subterranean world. Because the book blurb mentions this, I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything by saying that when she dies, a little piece of you may die too, drained away with the tears that will spill from your eyes. What will bubble up to fill the gap it leaves behind is a primeval part of yourself, made of vengeance and anger.

This monstrous little piece of you is further fueled by the lies the authorities tell the Reds, by the inequality and the forced brutality you’re made to bear witness to. By the time you reach the middle of the book you may find that savage part of you has taken over and that you’ve hate-morphed into a ten foot tall, scale-covered ragebeast armed with razor teeth and three inch claws made for rending the flesh of the Golds, the highest caste and the perpetrators of all these crimes. Don’t be alarmed, it happened to me too.

From the mines you watch Darrow rise, discover the truth of life on Mars, take his first shell-shocked steps on a city street and transform into something nearly as monstrous as your ragebeast. And you’re with him all the way, rooting him on, cheering his brilliance and his blood thirst. I absolutely loved his character, loved how his mind worked. And you know what else I loved about him? He’s not perfect. He’s not some born leader. He does horrific things, makes bad choices and hard decisions. But he learns from his mistakes, becomes better, stronger, smarter.

Surrounding him is a support cast of miscreants, sycophants, psychopaths, feral children, government men who think themselves gods and the rebel leaders who wait to rise up against them. None of them are one dimensional. All of them pulled some sort of emotion from me, whether it was love or hate or amusement or pity.

Pair these characters with the sweeping backdrop of a war whose participants have forgotten it is a game and you have one brutal and gorydamn epic novel.

This book is a stark foray into survival and society, into the heart of human darkness and the height of its heroism. One part dystopian, one part sci-fi and one part epic war fantasy, it transcends a conventional genre and enters the realms of AMAZEBALLS.

READ IT.


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