4.5 stars · Viki's review

Review ‘Red Rising’

Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Genres: Science Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
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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 already 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.

It was a long time ago when I last read a dystopian book that I truly enjoyed so lately I was kind of passed them over. I heard and read a lot of good things about this series so when a couple of months ago I got the first book as a present it started to bother me that I didn’t read it yet. Between finishing one of my written exams and waiting for my scores and the interview part of the exam which was roughly a 6 hour wait, I found the perfect opportunity to start it. And I can say that I enjoyed it to no ends and this book brought back my love for great dystopian novels.

I had a harder time to get into the story than I expected. For one because of the strange vocabulary which gives the whole book and mainly the writing style a bit rigid and harsh feel. But I think it was intentional because with it creates the perfect atmosphere to the story. Also because in the beginning Darrow is not the most inspirational character and the first part of the book is about his not so exciting life.

The world building is pretty intricate with the hierarchy of the different colors and just by humans being the conquerors of the universe but in this story you only see the real details and workings of the absolute top and the very bottom of the social chain and even not every small part of them either. It’s obvious that the author built and thought out this whole world precisely but they don’t come to light yet. And I personally didn’t miss them because the focus of the story and the plot doesn’t require me to know them to understand and enjoy the book. I even prefer this method because it provides enough just information to get the story but it doesn’t overwhelms me with history and keeps me want to know more. It’s a nice touch.

When I was reading review about this book everybody was comparing to it other popular dystopian books but I don’t like to do that and generally don’t like reviews like that either. For one if you believe it you bound to be disappointed because there is no way for a book to be enjoyable for you just because someone compared it to your favorite book when the concept is nothing alike especially since most of the time the comparisons are so random. And honestly every book is its own unique brand not the mix of this and that.

Let’s see about the characters. I’m going to leave Darrow, the main character, for the end because he gets a more lengthy analysis. Okay, there is Eo, who is Darrow young bride and whom I really didn’t like. Her role is s short one in the book so we mainly get to know her through Darrow, who sees her through eyes fogged by love. To Darrow she is vibrant, beautiful, and passionate. For me she was also manipulative and she had Darrow wrapped around her pinky finger. Yes, she maybe had the right idea about how things should work but went around them the wrong and aggressive way. She wanted to be a martyr, not thinking about her family or friends. So I didn’t like the way she operated.
Then there is Mustang, who is smart, pretty, talented and also an idealist but at least she has the right tools to reach her goal and know how and when to equip them. Her dynamism with Darrow is amazing and they are like minded and work really welt together.
The little team Darrow gathers around himself during his time at the school is also really diverse. They all have different strategies and motives but all of them greatly influenced by their upbringing as a gold. Yet most of them still have the right morals and they strangely gravitate towards Darrow. My favorite probably was Sevro with his wild and animalistic side and righteous ruthlessness or Pax with his simplicity and loyalty.
At the beginning I was also pretty impressed by the golds as in the leader caste. Usually I hate the oppressing party but they did what they did in a smart way. Yes, they are cruel and some of them are really have an inferiority complex but the way they select those who lead from the spoiled brats and not really factoring in money but rather their accomplishments. Unfortunately this theory falls apart in the middle of the plot but until then I was impressed by them.

Darrow is an extremely complex character. The book is divided into four parts that perfectly represents his metamorphosis, his transformation from red to gold, and the changes in his personality. He starts out as the typical red, he is hard working, sometimes takes risks others wouldn’t but overall content with his life, lacks aspiration to do big things. He has a job, a wife and family and doesn’t need anything else. But then his grief and thirst for revenge spurs him to change and to do something more substantial for his family and caste. His journey is a long one and starts out slowly first his anger holds him back from reaching his full potential and as he tries to identify with his new self he is a bit hesitant and unsure of what he should do. But as the storyline progresses and he starts to see and understand more he becomes a pretty spectacular character. He is surprisingly smart, strong, has a strategic mind and a good leader after he figures himself out but he is also a pure soul at the beginning so the violence of his surroundings impacts him deeply. He really gets into his element when he starts to upset the rules and the way things usually go and from that moment he gets a flying start and doesn’t stop until the top. I had some problem with his personality, his passiveness through the book but honestly liked the person he became.

Red Rising starts out in a slower pace and I was really disappointed by the very last page of the book still I absolutely adored this intense, graphic, interesting and exciting tale. What would have made it better is a map of the valley they do their school year, you know the little maps they usually put in the beginning of high fantasy novels. I love those and it would have made it easier to navigate the characters moves.


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