Red Rising is the story of a society in a desolate future, riven by class conflict and shaken by the tremors of an impending revolution. But more than that, it’s the story of Darrow-a secret revolutionary who is inspired not only by a longing for social justice, but by lost love. It’s only when Darrow’s beloved wife is executed by the oppressive government that he begins to question the harsh world he lives in. Recruited by an underground revolutionary cell, Darrow is given a perilous mission: infiltrate the academy that educates this elite-and become one of them.
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.
WOW. JUST… WOW.
And here I thought I’ve read all sorts of dystopians out there. And here I was, egoistically thinking I know the genre by heart and that nothing can surprise me anymore. MAN, WAS I WRONG!!!
Ever since The Hunger Games took off, the community has seen an onslaught of young adult dystopian books left and right, and needless to say, it has somewhat saturated the genre that used to be so magical and fascinating to me. I’ve been disappointed too many times, severely dismayed in a few instances, so when I read in another review this book will blow everyone’s socks off, I was ecstatic, and, in a way, a bit wary. What if I’ll be disappointed again? What if this doesn’t exceed my expectations? And honestly, my expectations are rather high.
But worry not, friends and reviewers alike! If anything, Red Rising made me excited about this genre again. I haven’t been this pumped up since I read Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, and that was last year! This book reminded me how much I love dystopian, how much I love stories about tyrannical governments and underground rebels plotting to reclaim what was once theirs – the right to be seen as fellow human beings. Goodness gracious, mon dieu, dios mio, oh lala! You think the The 5th Wave was the next best thing? HAH! I’m sorry to burst your bubbles, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Red Rising will be the next big IT. As in, the one everyone – adults and teenagers alike – will go completely gaga for. This book, in my honest opinion, is seriously one of the best this genre can offer to the community. This has real suffering, full of instances and scenes that will make your heart cry out, sharing in the pain of the main characters. This has real crooks, people you just want to see burn in hell for all the atrocious things they’ve done, bastards you look forward to being ousted and outwitted, madmen you want to strangle and choke yourself. This has real questions and discernments on humanity, with situations so gravely appalling, you’ll feel sorry for the people, being treated less than insects, trapped in a cycle of greed and oppression. As Litchick have said in her review, YOU’VE SEEN NOTHING!!!!!!!!
So, yes. Make way, 5th Wave. Make way, The Hunger Games. You have been dethroned. And thank you, Pierce Brown. You’ve brought new life to the genre and rekindled my interest and love for dystopia. You da man, sir! YOU DA MAN! *fistbump*
So, okay. Enough gushing and fangirling. Let’s talk about the book.
Years into the distant future, humankind has reached new heights. They’ve conquered the solar system, invading nearby planets and moons for resources and what have you. The story takes place in Mars, in which a colony has been placed, and human life thrives. There is structure. There is society and civilization. There is a government. And there is a well-established hierarchy. For as long as Darrow, our young main character, can remember, his clan, the Red, has been drilling the rocks underground to ready the planet for living. He believes this. He lives this. Despite the oppression and the tough life they have to go through, he sincerely thinks that one day it will all be worth it. Until something happens and he discovers they’ve been lied to all this time.
I love Darrow. He’s such an amazing character. He’s like a younger version of Vaelin, my favorite character ever from Blood Song, an inherently good person but someone who knows he has to dirty his hands in order to fight for a greater cause. It was so interesting for me to read his self-doubts and moments of clarity, his sheer brilliance and comebacks to his enemies… they made me smile and made my heart roar out of pride. He’s the kind of character who may have flaws, but you embrace everything of him anyway, and you’ll be there cheering for him through thick and thin, come low or high water! I wish I could tell you guys the awesome scenes that made me crazy, and there are a lot of them, but I can’t as I want you to experience the magic for yourself, but I guarantee you this: you will cry. You will get angry. You will be sad, frustrated, and you won’t help but feel his pain and the pain of others. You will find yourself jumping up and down, cheering, grinning, fistbumping the air, and other what have you. YOU WILL HAVE THE GREATEST, EYE-POPPING, HEART-POUNDING EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE! 100% GUARANTEED!
Why do I say this? Because aside from the awesome main character, the plot is equally incredible. You have a government that is hell-bent on continuing a hierarchy, a system that encourages discrimination and oppression toward the lower classes, and you have an underground group called Sons of Ares that are determined to make a difference and let the outside world know they are not insects and slaves to be trampled on. We all know just how overused this formula is, but Pierce Brown put it up a notch and made this journey a remarkable, refreshing experience. He made such a worn out scenario engaging, breathtaking, and super exciting, placing his writing prowess into use and putting elements and characters never seen and experienced before. What may have been a simple premise transforms itself to a highly brutal and violent setting, full of blood, hate, vengeance, and ultimately hope – a hope to make a difference amidst the sins of the world, amidst the blood on their hands. Such a spectacular novel.
Overall, this is a fast-paced story that breathes new life to a worn-out genre. Pierce Brown has heard our calls of distress and answered with this gem of a book. In terms of character, values, and plot, Red Rising wins them all hands down. It is no doubt one of the best of this genre that I’ve ever had the utmost pleasure to read. It speaks volumes when I’m at 70% and am already having withdrawals. It’s THAT good, folks. This book will rise and will be the best of them all.
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