I have to thank Bookbridgr and Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this book. I am happy to provide an honest review and will happily tell everyone that this book is brilliant!
I have not read a fantasy novel for several years and I forgot my golden rule…never start a fantasy saga until all the books have been written. Red Rising is the first in a trilogy and I need parts two and three NOW!!!!!
Neither are available yet, Pierce Brown has promised that book two will be out in January 2015 – it already seems a long wait!
I tried to explain to a friend what Red Rising was like…Lord of the Flies with some 1984, a bit of Running Man but set on Mars. That does not do it justice, it is all of those yet more.
Just to clarify, I loved Red Rising!
Red Rising follows the story of Darrow. He is a Red, a miner on Mars. Generations of Reds (the lowest class of society) have been mining deep below the surface of Mars to help the Golds (the Society Elite) to terraform the planet and bring them a new world to live in. Unknown to Darrow and the Reds, the terraforming completed several generations ago and the surface of the planet houses a civilisation that live a decadent lifestyle while the Reds continue to work themselves to death below ground so the elite can party.
Darrow gets a glimpse of life above the surface of the planet and his life is turned upside down, his life is a lie. Everything he believed and worked for was a sham. He gets offered the chance to change things – can he become one of the elite? Can he become a Gold and then crush those that perpetuate the lie? Can he bring down the elite Golds and the life that they have built for themselves?
We read about Darrow as his life is rebuilt. His appearance is changed (bones smashed and flesh carved). He learns new skills, adopts a new identity and has to undergo the trials that will deem if he (and hundreds of others) can be worthy to rise to the top of the pile.
The trial process most made me draw comparisons with Lord of the Flies – teams are formed amongst the students seeking to become the best ‘Golds’. They are thrown into an artificially constructed landscape where different factions are pitted against each other to see which faction can make best use of their resources and prevail. Each faction has a will to win and it soon becomes dog-eat-dog/kill or be killed. This is gripping story telling from Pierce Brown and the depths to which some of the trialists will stoop is terrifying. As a Doctor Who fan, my mental image of this part of the story was a battle playing out in the Death Zone on Gallifrey.
Darrow is a likeable hero. He has to become something that he hates, act in a way that is alien to his natural instinct and he does not always make the right choices. This is a hugely satisfying read but be warned – it is just the beginning of the story!