Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow 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... 

This summary reminds me of a Stargate SG-1 episode. Now I really want to know which episode...Oh, it's "Beneath the Surface". I guess that title makes sense. Only the worldbuilding sounds similar, though (workers underground think they're colonizing an uninhabitable planet, but are actually just slaves for the city already there). Red Rising seems to have more of a dystopian feel to it.

This book was a giant game of capture the flag.

I LOVE capture the flag. I want to play it right now. My brain craves the strategizing.

Some people might find Red Rising boring. There were points where things were a little slow. But I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I'll be honest, I wasn't that interested in the whole "let's overthrow the asshole Golds and free my enslaved Red people". Not at first. During the beginning 30%, before "capture the flag", that's what the entire storyline was. It was... decent. Once the school's game started, I became invested. Maybe even invested enough to care about the whole "overthrow the asshole Golds and free my enslaved Red people". Because Darrow has Gold friends now. Through him, I have Gold friends.

I was under the impression people were into this book because of the amazing world-building. It was great, I'll tell you that. There was new technology and rich history involved. For me, the reason I wanted to keep reading was due more to the people. I want to see how the relationship evolves between Darrow and Mustang (aka Virginia). Rogue needs to spout more poetry. I want Sevro and the Howlers to be Sevro and the Howlers!

And that's why I'm worried for the sequel...

These kids have no reason to be together anymore. The game starts and ends in the book. It couldn't continue. It's not the point of the story. The rebellion agaisnt the Golds is. But it's Darrow and his Gold friends, their relationships and the eventual reveal that Darrow is actually a Red that will keep me reading. I hope Brown finds a way to keep most of the Golds in Red Rising together for the sequel, Golden Son. Even though they're technically the bad guys. 

I bloodydamn loved this book. I read last 70% of it in a five hour stretch. My eyes were bleeding by the end. But... I'm only giving it four out of five stars. It was hard to read. I hate having to go back and read things over to clarify (or glance at a map/wish for a glossary). Once or twice is fine. In Red Rising, I had to go back multiple times on multiple occasions. Still, I eagerly await Golden Son. I hope Brown brings back most of the "cast".

Next week I'll be reviewing... The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon