Sunday, 27 December 2015

'Red Rising', by Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising (Red Rising #1)
Author(s): Pierce Brown
Release Date: 25th September 2014 (Paperback)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Science Fiction, YA
Source: Giveaway

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.

Break the chains. Live for more.


{I did a blog post on Part III of this book for the 'Read Red Rising' Readalong, if you would like to check it out. While that has quite a lot of spoilers, this review is spoiler free!}

While this book had been on my TBR since the moment it came out, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it. I kept seeing the comparisons to 'The Hunger Games' and, well, you know how many times books are compared to previous best-sellers when there is nothing to really connect the two in a positive way.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I don't mean to say that I thought it would be bad, but it was filled with twists and turns that upon first reading the synopsis I would not guess in the slightest the story would follow.

To start off, Darrow is an unbelievably layered character. There are so many sides to him and he develops so much throughout the book that I had no issues in connecting with him and following him as the main character. While the physical transformation he undergoes is already something amazing to read about, what really struck me as fantastically achieved was his psychological development. He is not just a Red seeking revenge on the Golds and wanting to tear down the system, but he starts to realize how much injustice is infused within it and he connects with people he previously thought to be his enemies. The moral undertone of the plot was fascinating and one of my favorite things about this book.

I can fully understand the comparisons drawn between 'Red Rising' and 'The Hunger Games' (and let me thrown in there as well 'Game of Thrones') since there are a few plot points and arcs that are very similar, but Pierce Brown did his own thing here. He managed to draw from those tropes and make them feel unique, and that is greatly due to his writing style. His voice as an author is mesmerizing to say the least, and I was hooked in it from the first page. He shows us a world that is completely removed from ours but builds it as so believable that you forget that the story is set on Mars.

Expect quite a few punches to the chest as well, packed full of feels. You have been warned.

One of my favorite things to see well achieved in books is round secondary/background characters. It's so easy to find books where you don't know much about the people that are in it other than the main characters, but not as much the ones where everyone has their own time to reveal themselves as people. Especially is a way that is balanced and you don't loose track of who is who.

Again, this was greatly achieved by the author, as I felt like I knew all of these people that Darrow interacted with. They where there not only to provide victims, allies or villains, but had their own stories and motivations, and some of they provided their own plot twists that took them away from the stereotype you grow to expect throughout the book.

The one fault I can personally point of it is the scope of the overall story arc. The division of the book in four parts was incredibly smart and well executed, but looking at the book as a whole I was expecting it to have moved further. A great deal of the book is set in the school where Darrow is infiltrated, and while I can see its purpose in the story and how it was needed to flesh out this world and develop Darrow, I grew somewhat impatient and wanted that part to be finished to see what would come next for him. After the rebels build up his infiltration as something that might take years and years to come to fruition, it felt like quite a lot of time to dedicate to this one event.

Science Fiction fans, look no further! 'Red Rising' brings you everything you are looking for and more. Great characters, original take on the genre and a fresh new voice. You will not be disappointed!

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