Sunday, January 11, 2015

Topian Reviews Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Red Rising by Pierce Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me just start off by saying, I cannot think of anything to say about this book that has not already been said. I absolutely fell in love with Pierce Brown and Red Rising... I will be continuing on to Golden Son after completing this review.

I was really looking forward to Pierce Brown's debut dystopian, Red Rising because it had glowing reviews from bloggers I trust thrown out left and right, and surprisingly I wish that I would have listened. Red Rising was BLOODYDAMN fantastic! It was imaginative, unique, violent, and well written. It had elements of science fiction, military strategy, survival, and dealt with classism in a way I’ve never seen.

The story follows Darrow, who is a Red, the lowest social class. He and the rest of the Reds are forced to mine the surface of Mars to make it habitable for the rest of the social classes. The book launches with Darrow recalling his life, status, and family. After losing the life he so fondly remember only pages ago, Darrow soon discovers that it's all a lie, that Mars has been habitable for generations. He becomes in league with the rebels, who integrate him into an elaborate plan involving the ruling class of Golds. This starts Darrow’s need to revenge his life and all he lost.

I was unsure about the book at first because I couldn’t see how Darrow’s situation would allow much room for any kind of revolution, but fortunately, Darrow didn’t spend much time as a Red and the novel didn’t take the direction I expected. His adventures were cut short by tragedy and the book took off once the group of rebels took him up to the surface and basically turned him into Gold. He had a lot to learn about the world, which was helpful to me since the book just kind of threw me into Darrow’s world and then tilted the world he thought he knew upside down. The bulk of the story took place in the Gold command school where Darrow attended. The students were the best of the best of the Golds and were being tested to find out how high in the social structure they could be.

I hate to give too much of the story away, but it’s hard because the story explored so many things. Each direction or topic that was thrown in was actually explored. The beginning was reminiscent of Ray Bradbury to me because of his obsession with Mars and the way he explored what life on the planet might be like. I enjoyed that part. The part where the rebels turn Darrow into a Gold was definitely the most sci-fi aspect of the book and showed me just what kind of technology was available and gave me insight into how the world was divided by class and “color” of the people.

And the bulk of the story was incredible. The first challenge was brutal, but nothing compared to the brutality of the second and longest challenge. Their situation was similar to The Hunger Games, but when I say that, hear me out. It’s not just a bunch of people killing each other to win that barely skims the surface of what that might actually be like. It was much, much more complicated than that. It was what THG could have been if it had actually gone deeper into the psychology of being stuck in the games and forced to kill people, make alliances, keep those shaky alliances, and win. It was violent, gory, psychologically damaging to the players, and was an elaborate game of survival and chess. If this book is like THG, it would only be if THG was written for adults who aren’t buying the situation just because the author says it’s like that.

Red Rising is what a truly epic sci-fi dystopian novel should strive to be. I’m full of questions and there were many points where I thought the class system was actually kind of smart, despite the unfairness to people who aren’t Golds. I love the way it explored each aspect. The only flaw of the novel is Darrow’s perfectness, but the author wasn’t afraid to make him truly suffer, so it wasn’t as if he was untouchable.

I highly recommend Red Rising and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I have had this on my Kindle for months and I’m glad I finally picked it up. However, Red Rising isn’t for everyone. It’s brutal and violent and I can’t stress that enough. If you’re used to the pretty dystopian worlds of YA where suffering is minimal, Red Rising might be too much.

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