on July 15th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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.
Break the chains.
Live for more.
I had a lot of thoughts while reading Red Rising (and yes, they hurt), and those thoughts came with a lot of feelings, and those feelings accompanied many different possible ratings. I have considered rating it as DNF, one star, two stars, three stars, and then three-and-a-half stars, but in the end I have settled on a very humble and decent three stars.
Red Rising has an incredibly good and clever story at its heart – a Red lowborn is selected to infiltrate the Gold highborns as his world turns upside down and he finds out the Golds have been using and deceiving the Reds for several centuries. Darrow must now change everything about his life AND himself to become a Gold, get to the top of the ranks, and topple the system from the inside out. First, though, he must go through several lines of passage, including a violent and strategic game reminiscent of The Hunger Games but thrown into a science-fiction setting. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends in this novel where nothing is black or white and everything is grey.
First of all, I’d like to say kudos to the design of the story. It was really well done and intelligent and political and challenging to the reader, which was really nice. As the reader, you don’t get things spoon-fed to you – you have to think for yourself sometimes (and yes, that hurts) and I really liked that.
What didn’t help the book much was the pace and the density of the story, which almost made me put the book down and not pick it up again. I see so many reviews in which Brown’s writing is praised and I totally see the beauty in his writing, but I also found it to be a bit pretentious? I’m not quite sure how to explain this, but it’s a feeling that stuck with me throughout the entire book. The story-telling was also really slow and dense and had me puffing from time to time. It’s just not one of those books that you’re quick to finish. Which is awesome at times, but can also be really frustrating.
Most of the characters had a great complexity to them, although I had a lot of issues with Darrow. I found him likeable mainly for his love for his wife Eo, who was beautiful and brave beyond measure. But I couldn’t help but feel like he was a giant Gary Stu – people kept looking at him like some sort of golden boy (pun intended) and like the guy was gorydamn perfect. He was chosen for this project, people looked up to him, he was a natural leader, etc. And after his transformation to a Gold, there was not a single hair on his body that even so much as swayed the other way.
Other characters I loved, especially Sevro and Mustang. With Sevro, you get this petite and slim young boy and you think he’s going to die within seconds, but then he turns out to be as cunning as a fox who graduated from the Oxford University of Cunningness (thank you, Blackadder) and you end up rooting for him all the way. Everyone loves a good underdog. As for Mustang, she was just a really solid and strong female character. She wasn’t a damsel in distress – she could take care of herself very well, but she also wasn’t too proud to accept help if she needed it. And therein lies the beauty of her.
I also really liked Darrow’s dynamics with all the different characters – his wife Eo, his uncle Narrol, Cassius, Sevro, Roque, Mustang. Each relationship was different and layered like an onion (or an ogre. OGRES HAVE LAYERS) and you never really knew what to expect. Things could always go either way.
So in the end, there were a lot of really good and decent elements to the story, but the pace and the writing really set me back. It often felt like too many things were going wrong and that the story would never progress. And that’s a bloodydamn shame.
“I am the spark that will set the worlds afire.
I am the hammer that cracks the chains.”
P.S. PAX AU TELEMANUS