Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Featured imageI wanted to like this book more then I did.  It’s not that I didn’t like it but I found it hard to get into it and stay into it.  I’m not sure if it was the writing style or the characters or the pacing.  I just never truly connected with it fully.  Maybe I have hit my threshold on Hunger Gamesish type dystopian.

Red Rising is about Darrow, who is a miner on Mars.  He and his family are Reds.  The lowest of the color castes.  Their job is to mine precious elements to prepare the surface of Mars for colonization. They were told they were colonist but really they are slaves.  Mars was colonized for centuries and the ruling color castes, Golds, have been living it up on the surface, while Reds toil away below.  All this is revealed to Darrow after his wife, Eo, is executed and Darrow joins the Army of Ares to take down the Golds and the Society from the inside.

Maybe for me it’s more of a question of pacing then anything else.  Eo, is executed so early in the book, that I was never able to get to know her or Darrow or their relationship.  Obviously they were in love.  I got that much and apparently Eo was someone that everyone loved.  True, it’s sad when anyone is killed at such a young age.  Especially over something that is a simple as a song but it was a blink and you miss her and she’s gone.  Oh, ok.  Then Darrow is whisked away by the Army of Ares, told the truth about how the Society really is and joins the rebellion.  I guess I never felt I had time to know who Darrow was before all this happened.  I didn’t get to know where he came from before he was set out on his revenge.  I think this is also a problem of the author because to compare to the Hunger Games, the reaping happens very early on in the book and Katniss and Peeta are on the train to the capital by the third chapter but by then the connection for me was already made.  I was invested.

After a lengthy process of changing Darrow from a Red to a Gold, which includes surgeries, we finally get to the Institute that turns Golds into the leaders and rulers of the Society.  The Institute is nothing but a Hunger Games style of live action game of Risk. The students are set up into different houses where they try to invade, conquer and slave the other students.  Again with the pacing. At times, it was exciting and I hated that I was at my stop on the train and had to stop reading to get off but then momentum would end and I was like “can we get on with it”  The ending itself was also a little meh.  I guess it does set up nicely for the sequel, Golden Son, which is out now.

It was ok.   I’ll probably will read the sequel eventually but not right away.  I think this was Pierce Brown’s first book, so hopefully the next one will be better.  I like the concept, I do.  The execution just wasn’t quite up the the task.