Red Rising – Pierce Brown (Book Review)

red rising

Title – Red Rising

Author – Pierce Brown

Genre – Fantasy

Story Summary – (SPOILERS!)

In the caste society of future mankind, the Reds dig below the surface of Mars, sacrificing their lives and future to make the planet habitable for all people. But it is the ruling caste,the Golds, that has deceived them all.

“…I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war…”

Darrow is a miner, deep in the underground, struggling to feed his young family when a simple act of trespassing delivers a sentence of death to his beautiful wife Eo.

“…The trapdoor beneath her feet opens. She falls, and for one moment, her hair hangs suspended about her head, a flourish of red. Then her feet scramble at air and she falls. Her slim throat gags. Eyes open so wide. If only I could save her from this. If only I could protect her; but the world is cold and hard to me. It does not bend as I wish it to bend. I am weak. I watch my wife die and my haemanthus fall from her hand. The camera records it all. I rush forward to kiss her ankle. I cradle her legs. I will not let her suffer.
On Mars there is not much gravity, so you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.
Soon, there is no sound, not even the creaking of the rope.
My wife is too light.
She was only just a girl…”

In overwhelming grief Darrow steals the dead body of his wife and buries her deep in the mines. For this he too will face the sentence of death.
But fate has other plans as a seed of rebellion is planted and Darrow is saved from death for mission that will send him into the very heart of the Golds. Transformed to appear to be a Gold, he joins the young of the ruling caste and is sent to a school for training. Here he learns that the young of the Gold are taught to value power and strength and that even the youth of the Gold are sacrificed to strengthened the ruling caste.

“…Now if you think this was vile, consider that the Spartans would kill more than ten percent of all children born to them; nature would kill another thirty. We are gory humanitarians in comparison. Of the six hundred students that are left, most were in the top one percent of applicants. Of the six hundreds that are dead, most were in the bottom one percent of applicants. There was no waste…”

Of the remaining six hundred, they are set into teams and each team given an area to claim and protect. They will battle until one team controls them all. Darrow must survive and conquer if he is to be believed to a Gold. Yet this time the game is rigged and no matter how he fights, Darrow finds not only the other youth standing against him but the leaders of the Golds as well. Who can he trust? How will he survive?

“..I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.
I watch twelve hundred of their strongest sons and daughters. Listening to a pitiless Golden man speak between great marble pillars. Listening to the beast who brought the flame that gnaws at my heart.
“All men are not created equal,” he declares. Tall, imperious, an eagle of a man. “The weak have deceived you. They would say the meek should inherit the Earth. That the strong should nurture the gentle. This is the Noble Lie of Demokracy. The cancer that poisoned mankind…”

Darrow is a Red. His wife is a Red. But to win his vengeance, he must learn to be a Gold.

Review –

First I will say I am sorry for giving so much of the story away in the summary, but believe me when I say that there is so much more to the novel than what is summarized. This is 2014’s heir apparent to the blockbuster fantasy trilogy. Red Rising is on the same level as Hunger Games and Divergent. I have yet to read Divergent but I will take everyone else’s word for it that it too is this good, because fellow readers Red Rising is that good.
Really this is one not to be missed.
In Darrow, Brown has created a hero who everyone, man or woman, can connect with. The desire to do good and strive for more, for himself and those he loves. Then to find out that there is no way he would every be allowed to as he is a Red. The pain and grief at the loss of his young wife. The hatred and anger to destroy the Golds and then the cold realization that all he has ever known and believed in has been a lie. The final truth, the understanding that to avenge his Eo, to bring down the Golds, he must give up the last thing that makes him Darrow. That makes him a Red. His own humanity as he becomes the very enemy he is sworn to destroy. As he becomes a Gold.
Brown has been very ambitious in this first novel. I am hoping that he maintains this pace and action throughout the trilogy. If he can, you will be talking about this one for years to come!

A terrific read!!


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