Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Review ~ Red Rising ~ Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown

Published: 28th January 2014 
By: Hodder & Stoughton

First line: I would have lived in peace.

Last line:  Rise.

Synopsis: The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

I’ve been in love with the above cover for what seems like an eternity and at first glance this book fits nicely into my sci-fi, dystopian, apocalyptic, and utopian obsession that I nurture alongside books about all things dead.  

From the beginning it is clear that Red Rising is more brutal and far more explicit than most of the books that sit in the YA genre. I’m not referring to the language used or the relationships between the characters as such, in fact I’ve read a lot stronger. What I’m referring to is the rawness of the characters and sometimes brutal plotline. There are sections of this book that make me wonder if it should be included within the YA genre, for example there is a rape scene included. I had thought that this was an adult book and I have to say I would agree with that classification more than I would one that lends itself to sections for younger readers. Anyhoo, on to the book!

Darrow’s story starts with relative normality, lurches forward into devastation and an ultimate sense of deceit and betrayal before it transforms into a genuine battle for survival. There’s a lot to love about this book.  The transformation of Darrow is gripping, occuring not just on an emotional but also on a physical level and it’s intriguing to see how much he as an individual is prepared to endure to obtain what he perceives as justice. There was something about Darrow that I couldn’t quite put my finger on though and as I often do when I’m lost and confused I turned to Goodreads to hear what other readers thought. A lot of them had it in a nutshell.  As much as I could see the rationale behind Darrow’s behaviour and the emotional point of view was there for me to read about (his sense of loss is palpable at times) he was just too malleable! And no matter what was thrown at him he was just brilliant at it immediately.  Never seemed to get anything wrong. Ever.  So even though this is one hell of a battle it’s as though he is something already superhuman before the real battle gets underway. So maybe it’s that that takes some of the ‘reality’ for want of a better word away from the plot.

There was always talk of The Hunger Games being a milder rip-off of Battle Royale.  If that is the case then I guess I would have to liken the battle between the wannabe peerless scarred in Red Rising as being a combination of The Hunger Games and the Lord of the Flies with a dash of naked humiliation thrown in for good measure.  And there’s an amazing array of characters who seem to twist and turn all over the place so you’re never quite sure who is trustworthy and who isn’t.  The combination of the two keep you on your toes. As with most dystopian series there is a whole new lexicon to acquire but unlike some I’ve read this was pretty easy and I did like the mix of modern language and technologies and historical reflections on earth and its politics and what went wrong.

3.5/5 This is a pretty heavy read and there’s a lot going on.  Given the ending I would imagine that where other books have their mid-series crisis book the next instalment of this read will show no such symptoms.   Again, however I should say that I think this book is for the older reader.



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