Red Rising #1
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Purchased hardcover
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017HW, #ShelfLove
"I live for the dream that my children will be born free," she says. "That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them."
"I live for you," I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow--and Reds like him--are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
Since I'm late to the party - story of my life - I'm not going to recount all that went down in Red Rising... because y'all probably already know. I'm only going to explain why, even though there was a point where the story dragged a bit for me, I still loved the heck out of Darrow and this story!
- the setup for the story. I was immediately gripped by the world Darrow inhabited, his clan, his being a HellDiver, Eo. Especially Eo. She served as the catalyst for all that came after and even though what she did was shocking, it had to be done. The shock is what set the wheels in motion.
- the detail and world building. We've colonized the moon and Mars?!? The detail of the tunnels and homes as well as the jobs of Darrow's people had me feeling the heat and the sandy grit from deep within Mars. The world on the surface, the Institute, the castles, the woods, the animals - Brown did an incredible job at drawing all the images in my mind. He also realistically portrayed not only the conditions the kids had to live and fight in - the lack of food, the lack of water, the stench of unwashed bodies and human waste - but also the emotions they felt. The things these kids were asked to do in order to survive caused fear, loathing, hate, but also camaraderie, loyalty, and love. I felt it all.
- Greek and Roman names, deities used. I found it ironic that Society would use these names - herald them - when those societies failed...especially since that was the objective.
- the colors - highColors, lowColors - this is how classes are created and distinguished. Society created a complex hierarchy and despite the elevation, the evolution, of the Golds, not much has changed in the future.
- the parallels I could draw between our world and Darrow's. It speaks to the problems of our current political climate and makes me sad to think humanity hasn't evolved...at least in fiction.
- the atmosphere. Even though the characters are primarily teens (late teens), the feel of the story is mature. The politics, the tactics of war employed, the subterfuge...it all lent to a sophistication not typically found in young adult literature. Watching as these kids adapt to the world they've been thrown into, strategizing for battle and survival, deciding how to best motivate your troops, etc., was fascinating.
- the characters. They're all very well developed. I loved and/or hated them all. All is fair in love and war as the old adage goes and these kids certainly learn that lesson. But Darrow sits atop the heap as my favorite. He's sacrificed much for a dream that wasn't even his. He felt denigrated. He felt rage and the need for vengeance. He felt pain and betrayal He felt exalted. But I think as he continues his mission he may learn that things aren't always simple. Black and white. Or Gold and Red in this case. And I'm eager to be a part of his learning, his continued evolution.
The only reason this isn't a 5 Bookworm read is that the middle dragged a bit. It fit in the story, of course, but it didn't hold me hostage to turning the pages like the rest did. I very much look forward to continuing Darrow's story though.