Friday, 12 July 2013

Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown
Genre: Dystopian, YA
Type: Kindle e-book, Advanced Reading Copy (ARC)
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra
First Published: February 18, 2014
First Line: "I would have lived in peace."

Note: My sincere thanks to Random House Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book DescriptionDarrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future 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 joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so

My Thoughts:  In the past few years the genre of Young Adult/Dystopian has been very popular.  We've had The Hunger Games {for my review click HERE}, Divergent {for my review click HERE} to name just a couple. 

While, admittedly, there are several parallels to The Hunger Games (young people in a competition where only one will win; 'proctors' who are assigned to the competitors to help them; government leaders influencing the competition; main character who rises up from nothing to change things ...) Red Rising has a different feel to it.

The book felt like it was separated into three very distinct sections.  Red Rising begins with Darrow's life as a Red miner on Mars.  It's a drab, depressing life but Darrow has the love of his wife Eo to get him through. This was a very touching section and helped cement Darrow's personality for me. 

Next we see Darrow's major transformation where he is made into something that is better physically, emotionally and mentally than what he was.  With all these changes though he still maintains his humanity (that we witnessed in the first section) and has his eye firmly set on his ultimate goal.   These first two sections had me riveted. 

Unfortunately it was the final section that kind of lost my interest.  I guess I was expecting something different based on what I read in the book description.   I found that this section, which focused on the medieval-like competition between the youth, lagged and got a little convoluted.  The storyline got more complicated with war strategy and the addition of Greek/Roman gods (which, admittedly, I was surprised by their involvement).  Plus, with all the secondary characters that were introduced (and hard to keep track of) and the info dumping that happened to catch the reader up on all the action it felt like this part of the book went on too long.  I suppose I was looking forward to seeing Darrow get farther in his ultimate plan.  I realize that there are supposed to be other books in this series but I guess I was hoping for more of the story to be focused outside of the competition and to the disparity between the various classes of people. 

It's not that I didn't like this book.  I just found it a little hard to stay interested once the competition began.  My reaction kind of surprised me because with all of the action and young people doing brutal acts to each other you'd think it would be hard to not stay riveted.   

The main thing that kept me going was Darrow.  I really liked the fact that he's a flawed character.  He's not a born leader. He makes mistakes but he's also a man on a mission.  He has the ability to kick pretty much anyone's butt but he holds on to enough humanity that he doesn't want to be 'the bad guy' who throws around his weight to get power or respect.  And yet he knows he'll have to get his hands dirty -- very dirty -- in order to benefit the greater good and ultimately attain his goal.  It's this struggle between who he is and what he feels he must do that made his character stand out for me.

Another thing that I loved about this book is how women are portrayed.  It's evident that Darrow respects women and treats them as equals.  From the very beginning of the book we witness the deep love he has for his young wife, Eo.  He doesn't view women as inferior and neither, apparently, does Pierce Brown.  His female characters aren't relegated to being mothers, weak side kicks or sexual objects.  They hold their own in the midst of battle and strategy. 

Overall, this was an interesting read.  I loved the premise and even though I struggled to stay with the storyline I have a feeling that Pierce Brown is just getting things started with Darrow and his goal to infiltrate the society that kept him and his people under their thumb for so long.

I'd recommend this book to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.  While I found the world building a little much for me to keep track of, it was Darrow who truly made this book stand out for me.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

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