Red Rising is the first book in the Red Rising Trilogy, a series that follows Red Helldriver Darrow as he is chosen by the Sons of Ares to help save their enslaved people. It is an introduction to the world after we've colonized the moon, and a look into what we've engineered ourselves to be.
I guess I should start by saying I put this book off way too long, but at the same time I'm glad I waited. There is no wait for me to read the second installment, Golden Son, and the wait for Morning Star, the last installment, is only a few months. Which I'm sure is three months too many. I've managed a few chapters into Golden Son and I know I'm not emotionally ready for what's coming. So I guess I should say thank you to Goodreads for giving me a reason to finally crack open Red Rising. Even if I fell from the bandwagon and never posted in the re-read group. I did however use my blog as a read along as I went through this journey with Darrow. Red Rising is one of those that no matter how may times I read it again, and I will need to read it again, the experience will never be as good as this first time.
I finished it a few days ago and this post as been sitting in my drafts as I try to piece together my feelings for it. Bottom-line, I loved it. I put off TV shows, sleep, and folding my laundry to have time to spare to read even a couple of chapters. Pierce Brown has a wonderful way with words that just drew me into the story. He didn't overwhelm me with information in the first book as he introduced me to the world. The characters he created were wonderfully broken and I felt well rounded. Some seemed flat at times, but I honestly felt that was the point. I also can't thank him enough for the women in his books. Not all of them were weak and helpless. In fact many were strong and independent. Even if one them got what she deserve for being a horrible, horrible person.
Yeah Antonia, I'm talking about you!
They other thing that kept me going was Darrow himself. The entire book is told through his point of view, and honestly I don't think I can say it enough, if it was told any other way I don't think I would have liked it. Red Rising is all about Darrow and the trials he has to go through for his people. Having him tell this story just added more to it for me. I got a front row seat to his mind as he worked through the Game of the Institute. Darrow is a flawed character who makes mistake after mistake, but he learns from them. I got to see each emotion as the world seemed set up to stop him, and I got to see his determination to break through. It's sort of hard to explain for me, but having him tell the story, hearing his thoughts. Made it a little more heartbreaking.
But, it made me want to watch Darrow burn it all down.
At the start of the book you are told that Darrow is sixteen years old, but by the time I was halfway through the Game I had forgotten how old he was, how old any of the characters were. However, every so often Brown would slip in something to remind me: Roque having a crush, Darrow remembering he'd be eighteen at a moment. Little things to remind me that this wasn't happening to adults.
As for the movement of the story in Red Rising, I felt it moved pretty quick. There was really no lag in the action once Darrow arrived to the Institute. A lot of questions arose during the Game that were finally answered during the last part of the book, Reaper. All of the plot holes that had me raising my eyebrows were answered when they finally revealed who the Jackal was. I never felt a character was killed off just because someone had to die. Each death had a reason, a purpose. For me I felt the farther into the book the stronger the writing become.
I did wonder if Brown, as the writer, was going through this journey with Darrow as he was writing it. Sometimes my own characters go off script while I'm writing them. I can't help but wonder if the same happened to him. It's something I'll have to ask him if I ever get to meet him.
It wasn't all rainbows and puppies for me, though. I almost put the book down during the first half of the book. While Darrow himself amused as our main character and the world building had me interested, I wasn't sold. Then came Eo, at first she was a fine character that I knew, thanks to the back of the book, something terrible was going to happen to her. Only the more Eo was around the more I realized I wasn't overly fond of her. I wasn't overly fond of the way she used Darrow. That terrible thing couldn't come fast enough. Thankfully I stuck with it, because after that book just gets better and better.
Honestly it's a great book for anyone who likes either the Dystopian or Sci-Fi genres. Red Rising has both. It definitely has a bit of the Hunger Games vibe to it in regards to the Game, but I feel that's sort of where the comparison ends. To me I don't feel like Darrow is the hero of the story. The things he's done already, the things he'll have to do, it almost makes him the anti-hero. Doing bad things for the greater good, if you will.
I really enjoyed this book from Darrow, to the writing, and the science (which is bloodydamn cool!) that Pierce Brown evolved. The science stuff felt right for the book. It was an advance of things people are already trying to do, or things I've read in other Sci-Fi genre books. I wasn't even finished with this one before I bought Golden Son, and I've already pre-ordered Morning Star. Plus I've already pawned Red Rising off on my flatmate, a friend, and a co-worker.
So if you're on the fence about I saw give it a go. Darrow is worth it! Now that this review is up I'm off to jump straight into Golden Son.