If you’re a Hunger Games fan and looking for another great dystopian read, you’re going to want to read Red Rising. I’d say it’s even grittier than Hunger Games. It’s a mesh of science fiction and ancient Rome.
The story follows Darrow, a young miner who lives on Mars and deemed a Red, the lowest rank in this world’s caste system. All he knows is a rough life of poverty and digging all day, extracting precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. Apparently, the Reds are humanity’s last hope, but that’s all a lie. Mars has been habitable—and inhabited—for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. They’re the kind of people who look down on Darrow and his fellow slave laborers, who are exploited and worked to death without a second thought. But one day, Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school with the intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.
The world building in this novel was amazing. As a reader, I could tell how much thought and planning went into the setting, the characters (they even have a caste system), and the people even had their own kind of slang. Then again, the new language and the information dump in the first hundred pages did make it hard to fully enjoy the story at first. But you do get use to it. Once you get over that hurdle, the rest of the book is an awesome ride. I’ve always loved learning about the past and historical events. I appreciated the references to ancient Rome.
While Red Rising may sound like a young adult novel, it is found in the adult fantasy section of the bookstore. Pierce Brown isn’t afraid to throw his characters into difficult and harsh conditions. There’s brutal fighting and death scenes, even a mention of rape. I’d recommend this book to mature readers. I also know that it’s hard to find books that boys will like. This is one of those books that would be perfect for them. It’s filled with warriors, fighting, and strategy.
Darrow is a pretty cool main character too. His character growth does a complete 180. At first, he starts off as a meek character. At least, that’s how I felt. He keeps his head down, trying not to stir up trouble. Though, after his transformation, he’s not only physically stronger, but he’s smarter and more handsome. He takes the lead and proves to be a strong leader.
As a female reader, I adored Mustang. She is a strong and capable warrior. She has what it takes to be a leader too. What I liked is that Darrow treats her as an equal rather than someone who is beneath him. Towards the end of the novel, they work together to reach a common goal: to bring down the corrupted instructors.
I also have to give honourable mentions to my favourite secondary characters: Pax and Sevro. Pax is the muscle—completely the bronze, not the brains. While he does seem tough, I thought he was a softy too. I absolutely loved this character. Sevro was an awesome character too. A lot of the other students thinks he’s weird, but he’s smart and tames the wolves in the arena, becoming their pack leader. He’s also one of Darrow’s loyal and helpful allies.
If you haven’t guessed yet, I highly recommend going out and buying this book. I love it and I think you will too. The film rights to Red Rising were recently obtained by Universal and Pierce Brown is writing the script too. So get reading! And be on the lookout for the movie. In the meantime, I’m super excited to get my hands on the sequel Golden Son and start reading it to see what’s next for Darrow.