Dystopia Review: ‘Red Rising’ by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Oh my, I am sure this is going to be one popular book.  Has anyone called dibs on giving it the requisite comparisons to popular books?  Because if not I have it pegged; Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies.  Put it on the back cover, no other comparison will ever to that one.  Because check it out, I will give you the full rundown.

Darrow is a Red, the lowest class on Mars, mining helium with other Reds in order terraform the surface for Earth’s eventual expansion.  After a convenient fridging  he is thrust into the underground rebellion where he learns that Mars has been terraformed for generations; the Reds are kept in a type of slavery with the lie of a false future.  Of course what follows is the story of one man’s path in a rebellion verse the oppressive system…oh no it’s not; the rest of the book is a live “game” in which a bunch of eighteen year olds play army with lethal results.  If you want to know more about the rebellion against the cool class system the author set up, well, maybe book two will deal with it?

You see, the underground rebuilds Darrow so he can join the Gold’s (all the classes are color coded) in their ‘school,’ and thus join this live action exercise.  The Hunger Games comparison is apt, a bunch of spoiled people watch these young men and women build armies, take slaves, and war as a simulation for how society evolved into a class system; the difference is it is not everyone for themselves and death is not mandatory.  Tribes are set, reformed, anarchy runs in areas while others quickly build a power base.  Fairly interesting stuff even if it seems like an excuse to make a bunch of kids fight.

Maybe it is dystopias (though most likely it is just me), but logical inconsistencies throughout this book drove me nuts.  As did the futuristic society completely focused on ancient Roman/Greco cultures.  But there was plenty of good here to keep me going, so I can’t say I was completely disappointed by this read.  Hell, I even plan on reading the next in the series; as I said the early set up for the world outside this little arena we were stuck in intrigues me quite a bit.

This was a dark, dark book with a grand total of maybe two likable characters, neither of which were the protagonist.  Darrow is interesting in his own way, rage filled but sharp as a tack, living in an engineered body that makes him almost super human.  He has dueling goals during this torturous exercise; get in good with the Gold society so he can do major damage later, and not falling into the trap of becoming just like them.  I am having a hard time deciding if he accomplished the latter; the second book has some potential to get real interesting.

Quick paced and full of action I was tempted to give this one a full four stars.  Then I saw this line.

“There is goodness in Golds, because in many ways, they are the best humanity can offer”

WHAT?!  I am not sure what book I read if that was the case, because the Golds I saw were either petty, bloodthirsty, or just plain nasty; with the few who were not very much the EXCEPTION, not the rule.  We saw Golds commit to torture, murder, rape, and a constant string of homophobic barrages and the protagonist thinks that they may be the best humanity has to offer in any way?  Bleh.  Just reminded me of other bits of silliness my mind blocked out while the fun action was going on.

3 Stars.  But who the hell cares, because by early reviews I have seen this may be the next YA phenomenon.

PS:  For a fun treasure hunt see if you can find the following references I am pretty sure I saw hidden in the text (of the book, not my review): The Princess Bride and The Sound of Music.  Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part.

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