17 July 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising was a great read for me.  I love the genre, I love Mars, and I loved the voice.  But it was, at times, a very challenging read as well.

Red Rising picks up the story of Darrow while he’s still a lowly Red, the lowest caste in the society of Mars.  As the blurb says (so this is not a spoiler), he and his kind have been led to believe they are terraforming Mars, but they have been deceived - Mars is already terraformed and they are simply working as slaves.

So begins Darrow’s journey from miner to revolutionary.

Red Rising has been drawing a lot of comparisons to The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game, and while I can see the similarities at times, I think it’s disingenuous to compare them too closely.  Red Rising is its own beast, with its own morality and its own story to tell.

One of the things that made Red Rising so hard for me - more than the violence, of which there is a lot, but I can handle that - was watching Darrow make choices that I was afraid would come back to haunt him.  I think it’s great that I identified so strongly with him, but it was troubling, too, to see this character I had come to empathize with go down what I would consider the wrong path.

I read the first 50 pages or so pretty quickly, but then, the middle of the book - from about page 50 to about page 250 - I could only read a chapter or two at a time, it was too gut-wrenching.

The last third of the book, though - once Darrow had grown into someone I could root for again - I positively devoured.

Pierce Brown’s prose was great, full of his own unique slang that felt fully realized and perfectly at home in the world he built.  Much like Jay Kristoff’s Lotus War trilogy, Red Rising built a world that was so compelling, I wanted to visit it, despite its hardships.

I ended up loving Red Rising.  It's one of my favorite books this year.  It had one of the best endings I can remember in a long time, and included a brilliant double-reversal, something that I rarely see and something that even more rarely works.  Brown pulled it off brilliantly.

I’m super jealous, to be honest.  The dude is talented, and I can't wait to see where his story goes next.