Title: Red Rising (Red Rising, #1)
Author: Pierce Brown
Published: January 2014
Summary: Darrow is a Red in a color-coded society set in the distant future. Red is the lowest color of all, serving as laborers preparing Mars so that humanity can one day live on it. They spend their days in the mines, enduring extreme temperatures, steering clear of the vicious pit vipers, and trying to avoid getting in the Society’s bad graces. The lives of the Reds is a hard one, which is proven by their short life spans and bodies full of scars. When the Society takes his wife away from him, it sparks in him the need to live for more than mining Mars. He is tapped to serve as a revolutionary by infiltrating the ruling color, Gold, to try and beat them at their own games.
Thoughts: I was blown away with how much I enjoyed this book. I kept looking up from it and telling my husband how good it was. I want everyone to read this book! It has been compared to The Hunger Games, which I think is a fair assessment. There are a lot of similarities in this dystopian series, but I would say this story is more focused on the action and political intrigue than the teen-angst romance. After Hunger Games, I feel like the market flooded with dystopian novels, the flood gate was opened. I have read a lot of these books that are trying to find success in that genre and I think Red Rising is the cream of the crop. It is among the best of these novels, ranking up there next to The Hunger Games.
Darrow is a great character. In the beginning of the book, he is just a cocky teenage boy who only cares about himself and his wife. He sees things about the society that he doesn’t agree with, but doesn’t think it is his job to do anything about it. After his wife is taken from him, he is open to being a vessel for the Sons of Ares’ revolution because he doesn’t have anything to live for and wants to honor his wife’s revolutionary tendencies. Once he enters the Institute to compete to win this war game for the Golds, he puts his head in the game and learns a lot about himself, about other people, and about what makes a good leader. The book is full of action and can be pretty violent at times, but Brown does an excellent job developing the action and painting a clear picture of what is happening to keep you engaged. He also never lets Darrow find a sense of security. There are twists and turns and betrayals every step of the way, reminding you over and over again that Darrow is not one of them.
The book ends in an epic, revolutionary-esque way, which just endears Darrow to me further. I read the last quarter of the book late into the night on a reading binge because I just had to know what happened, who was safe, and who would fail. Before I even finished the first book I had the next two ordered on Amazon. I am so happy I finally decided to pick up this book and I can’t wait to dive into the next one.