Red Rising by Pierce Brown – review (YA)

Red Rising is the story of Darrow.   He has known only a life of subsistence, underground, in the mines of Mars.   His people, the Reds, live to mine in order to one day make the surface of the planet inhabitable, for refugees from the dying Earth.   Until he finds out that it’s all a lie.

Mankind has already colonised most of the solar system, and the population is split into colours, denoting class and purpose.   Reds are workers and miners, Greys are guards and police, and among the others, are Golds.   Golds rule the solar system.   Darrow becomes part of a resistance movement to overthrow the Golds and restore humanity to a fairer system of government.

Now, I’m not a big space or sci-fi fan, but I am a fan of a good story.   This is one.   On the outset, it sounds like a rip-off of Star Wars, The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game, but it feels a lot different.   It’s difference is in it’s ability to be itself as you read it.   There is nothing hugely original yet is such a rollicking read that it’s dynamic and addictive.

Our protagonist, Darrow, converts into a Gold, which involves an actual change of physical appearance and personality.   He is then put into an Academy, which seems to be a school for young Golds, to establish their place in society.   Here’s where things get interesting.   What ensues is not a school, but a battle for supremacy amongst the teenagers, in what is a mix of Hunger Games arena and Roman military strategy.   There are so many twists that the reader ends up with nobody to trust, only to blindly follow our protagonist, who himself is questionable in his morality and actions.

In terms of content, Red Rising is a lot more graphic and brutal, possibly even to the point of gratuity, than typical YA fare like Hunger Games or Divergent.

The breakneck speed of the main plot once it gets going, and a myriad of heroes and villains, all totally interchangeable, make for a good read.   The plot ends with a satisfying taste of what to expect next and leaves you wanting more.   Golden Son is next in the planned trilogy.

I’m Derek, and I have a thing for books.

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