Book: Red Rising (Red Rising #1)
Author: Pierce Brown
Pages: 382 (Paperback)
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Published: 25th September 2014
Earth is dying.
Darrow is a Red, a miner on Mars who is digging for elements so Mars‘ surface can be made habitable. The Reds are supervised and controlled by the Gold, a higher human race. But Darrow soon has to find out that there are already thousands of people living on Mars and that he, along with all the other Reds, are in fact slaves. He goes on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the Gold. Darrow is sent to the Institute, a training school for Golds with exceptional abilities. There he soon finds friends and enemies, and he realizes that his mission is a lot harder and more dangerous than he thought, because he is not the only one with high goals…
I loved this book. I flew through it so fast, it was gripping and kind of addicting even. And so damn fast-paced. That was the main reason why this book was so good, it’s very dramatic and there aren’t many pages where nothing happens. Seriously, those characters never have a quiet moment, they always have to fight or stay alert and look/watch out for others. There is a lot of world building, we learn something new in every chapter. Basically, we learn with Darrow. He has never left his mine before he arrives in the world of the Gold. So what he learns, the reader learns. And that is a lot. So much, that it is hard to keep up with everything sometimes. But the world building is interwoven with the story so well, that there are never really long passages of it, but little snippets here and there. And that makes it so interesting. And the story was so much darker than I expected it to be. There was so much blood and brutality and death. Sometimes it was actually hard to read.
The society is loosely based on the Romans. Well, at least the Golds seem to think of themselves as new Romans or something, conquering the solar system. They also all have Roman names which I like… that’s just a personal thing but I like the sound of Roman names.
Darrow is a character I’m not exactly sure what to think about. In the beginning he appears to be a bit reckless, but not having a strong mind really. To be honest, he doesn’t think that much at all. But as soon as everything changes in his life, he starts making own decisions and learning, learning so fast. He learns about society and how it functions, he understand people and their motives better. But he is still reckless and sometimes a bit stupid. Nevertheless he is strong and powerful. People are drawn to him for mainly those two things.
The most loyal friend Darrow finds is Sevro. I don’t really understand why exactly he is so loyal to Darrow, but he could never leave Darrow for anything. He is a bit of a strange one, always swearing and always offending people in some way. He is small and not as pretty as most of the Golds are, which is why he is underestimated by almost everyone. But he is just as dangerous as Darrow, maybe even more. Sevro is the one to wait in the shadows to spring up at you and kill you.
Another friend (and love) he finds is a Golden girl which they call Mustang, thanks to her riding skills. Darrow and Mustang are still enemies at the beginning, but after a few encounters where they have to stick together to survive, they slowly form a friendship and fall in love with each other. She is headstrong and extremely smart. And she knows how to use her weapons.
Then there’s Cassius. Darrow and Cassius become friends on their first day at the Institute. They are in the same House. A House is kind of your family for your time at the institute. There are twelve, and you have to conquer other houses to win the game. They both want to become leader of their house and even though they’re rivals, they stay friends, plan together. What Cassius does not know, though, is that Darrow killed his younger brother.
Darrow and his friends are kind of unstoppable. But in the South looms a danger: the Jackal, the son of the mightiest man on Mars. He conquers House after House, being unstoppable as well. They hear stories of each other, but they only meet towards the end of the book.
Those are the most important characters, I think. I left one out though. And that is Eo, Darrow’s wife who dies very early on in the story. And here comes the only thing I did not like about the story, a trope I’ve been hating forever: A girl dies to help the male protagonist grow. I mean, I understand why she is killed of. Well, kind of, at least. I just don’t want those boys to develop only because some loved woman close to them died. Nope. Just nope. I think this could somehow have worked without her dying as well…
But apart from that one point, I liked this book so much. It was bloody and brutal, yes, but also direct and honest. The characters are treated horrible and thanks to the clear writing style and the brutal honesty, it is easy for the reader to feel with the characters and to imagine how bad it must be to be there. It seemed real at some points, even though it is a story set on Mars with weird human colours. But nevertheless it felt real and raw. And I enjoyed it so much.