The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, 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.
I started this book not knowing what to expect. Seen as Pierce Brown was crowned hottest YA author by Buzzfeed (Yes, this is for real! Check out the post here!), I guess I just assumed that Red Rising would be a Young Adult dystopian novel … well, I am not so sure now. Despite the main characters being teens, I think this is a very adult book.
You cannot imagine how “gorydamn” hard it is for me to write this review right now, because this book took me completely by surprise and swept me off my feet. I can’t say that it was love at first sight though. The book itself is separated into several parts and it starts out with a lot of information, just to negate everything we thought we knew in the second part. The world-building is really complex with it’s own unique vocabulary that needs some time getting used to. Like Districts in the Hunger Games and Factions in Divergent, we now have Colours that separate the people – Red being the lowest and Gold being the highest in the hierarchy. There were also tons of references to Greek and Roman mythology, which I really loved, which I thought gave the story a very distinct voice.
Right from the beginning everything is very dark, cruel and unjust. A lot of things are already considered given from the get go, but at the same time so many very emotional things happen that you aren’t yet ready for. I think that maybe there wasn’t enough time to get to know everyone properly for some of the tropes to really hit you with their full force. However, as I went on I found myself unable to put the book down. There was this raw rage, the sense of injustice, an incredible amount of scheming and the pure confusion about who to trust. My whole body tensed up at times, almost shaking from the intensity with which I had to know how the story continues.
I really have to give it to Pierce Brown for creating such complex characters, each of them having a unique motivation, likable and dislikable traits. Darrow is a strong hero, but he is also human and therefore makes mistakes. He is incredibly relatable in his struggle between getting vengeance and justice for his people, but he is far from being the only great character! I changed my mind about so many people several times throughout the book, feeling my heart crack every single time there was another betrayal or death. So many people die! I was emotionally exhausted by the end.
In the end, I can only give it 4.5 out of 5 stars because of it’s slow start. Other than that I utterly loved it and cannot wait to continue with the series!
Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! People who like dystopian novels in the slightest bit HAVE TO check it out!
Do you know what I am going to do now? I am going to order Golden Son, that’s what! Have you read Red Rising? What’s your take on it?