“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.”
-Pierce Brown, Red Rising
The opening line of Red Rising perfectly sets the stage for the fantastic debut novel by author Pierce Brown. The first book in a trilogy of the same name, Red Rising is a Science Fiction novel set on Mars 700 years in the future.
Our hero, Darrow, is a Helldiver, a brave miner, digging deep into the planet to harvest valuable Helium-3, the primary ingredient used to terraform new planets for human life. As a Red, the lowest Caste in a colour based society, it is Darrow’s lot in life to do the hard work and lay the groundwork for humanities expansion through the solar system. His people are promised a reward for their hard work, joining the rest of humanity once Mars has been made habitable. When Darrow learns that the promises of the Society are not as guaranteed as he’d been raised to believe, he comes face to face with the brutality of a world order built on the blood and sweat of slaves. Though reluctant at first, he is propelled into the larger Galaxy, and swept up in a plot to overthrow the tyranny of the Golds, the elite ruling class.
On it’s surface, there is little to separate Red Rising from the many dystopian Young Adult novels covering book store shelves these days, but Pierce Brown does a lot to differ from his peers. His characters are fully realized, with admirable qualities and also realistic flaws. Motivations are rarely what they seem, and are always complex and multi-faceted. There’s good reason you’ll likely find this book shelved closer to Game of Thrones than Divergent or The Hunger Games.
The action is always intense, visceral, and frequently brutal. Darrow initially has no desire for a life beyond the comfort of his own family, but as he grows he learns that he is capable of acts both Heroic, and Horrific. A fair warning, you will come to love some of the characters in this book, and some of them won’t survive. The stakes are kept high, and there is a sense of urgency for the entire page count of this book.
There are a few flaws in the book, as to be expected from any authors debut work. The plot verges dangerously close to the overdone territory of many dystopian novels, featuring a cut throat contest between a group of young people, though it never becomes bogged down by this. The plot is also so breakneck that there is a slight lack of quiet character moments, which is a shame, as the few that there are excellent and memorable.
Final Opinions Below