Ah the Hunger Games Trilogy. Do you remember when it first came out? It caught the world on fire with it’s compelling dystopian tale. I know it’s not the first dystopian novel to ever be written, but I think we can agree it started a huge trend in literature, particularly in YA literature. I didn’t pick up the books until the third book, Mockingjay, came out, so I had the benefit of not having to wait to see how the series concluded. I binge-read that series in just a few days, unable to sleep at night because I preferred to be reading this incredibly addicting story. I remember when I finished the third book, it was the middle of the night and I was visiting my sister. I remember just crying thinking about the harrowing journey Katniss experienced and how much her world changed. Katniss was such a strong character who was thrown into an unimaginably brutal situation. She made many mistakes, but she always ended up making the right decision. The love triangle between her, Peta and Gale was complete gold. The way each of those love interests represented different paths for her to take and different people for her to become was genius. The world that Suzanne Collins created was innovative and textured. The crazy images created in the Capitol was like Cotton Candy and glitter. This series had such heart and has stuck with me for years after I originally read it. While many books have tried to strike the kind of success that The Hunger Games experienced, it seemed to me that most failed. When this series was first a hit, it seemed like the literature market was completely saturated with YA dystopian book trilogies. Some may have been really good in the first book, but I don’t think any really sustained my interest and quality story-telling throughout a three-book arc like Hunger Games did. Eventually after reading one too many bad YA dystopians, I threw in the towel on the genre…that is until last summer when I learned about the Red Rising Trilogy. This series by Pierce Brown has a lot of Hunger Games-esque elements, particularly in the first book, but it also stands on its own as an interesting book with fantastic characters, in a memorable world.
The Red Rising Trilogy follows Darrow who is a Red in a caste society. Reds live underground on Mars and are working diligently to make this planet habitable for man-kind. Life in his community is hard and consists of death-defying work as a driller, which comes along with a small life-expectancy. At 16, Darrow is well-through his expected life span and is already married. Rules are strict as a Red, life is narrow, and they are aware of their low color status. When Darrow’s wife is taken from him suddenly he is thrown into a journey that takes the wool off of his eyes and exposes him to the lies he believed. He has a chance to rewrite history, but he has to undergo a dangerous transformation and pretend to be someone he isn’t to compete in a dangerous competition for power. The first book in the series is very reminiscent of Hunger Games (ummm there is a brutal competition where young people are pitted against one another), but in it’s own fresh way that doesn’t make it feel like an impostor, but rather it’s own special story. The writing is so good and the story is so exciting. I was obsessed with this series last summer and read all three. I was recommending it left and right even before I had finished it. When I cracked open the first book and read the first chapter I just KNEW this was going to be a special series. You can see my reviews from Red Rising (#1), Golden Son (#2), and Morning Star (#3) to see more information on each of the books and how I enjoyed them. If you are looking for a series to fill your Hunger Games void, look no further. The first book with remind you of what was great about the Hunger Games and the subsequent books will take you into something new and exciting. Enjoy!