Obviously March has not been my month.
So far, the spring has demanded a lot of my time, between school, jobs, and friends visiting from out of town. Throw in a migraine and a friend’s house-warming party, and I’m just about spent.
Is it August yet?
Anyway, I’m here to talk to you all about the first book in Pierce Brown’s trilogy, Red Rising. I don’t plan on going into too much detail, because there are entirely too many, so you should be fairly safe to continue without being spoiled.
This story follows Darrow, a sixteen year old boy whose life is almost halfway over. His people, known as Reds, mine the planet of Mars in order to make way for the rest of humanity to come and terraform the planet. Mining for Helium-3 is a dangerous profession, and most of his kin doesn’t make it past thirty-five. Reds, called such for their rusty hair, eyes, and complexion, lead simple and extremely difficult lives.
And by the end of the first act of the book, Darrow’s life has been particularly hard. His father was hanged for protesting. And so was his wife, his beloved Eo. And so, after her death, Darrow was hanged for burying her body instead of burning it.
Now, this book takes awhile to pick up because the established world, the world Darrow knows… Well, it’s not everything he was told. And a huge portion of the book goes to building this world, and explaining the convoluted caste system. It’s all based on colors, with Golds at the top and Reds at the bottom.
And Darrow? Well, he’s going to do the impossible. He’s going to become a Gold. And he’s going to destroy them from the inside out.
That’s the plan anyway.
This book took me a while to warm up to. The first act, only 40ish pages long, was choppy and short, with Darrow’s first person narrative devoid of any sort of style or sense of individuality, except for when he described Eo. She was my favorite thing about the story before her death.
There’s so much to develop in this book. Complex characters with their own motivations come in and out of Darrow’s life, and as the book progresses the training wheels come off. Soon the reader is responsible for understanding the slang that Gold’s speak, and how it differs from that of the other Colors. A Red might say one thing in a certain scenario, while a Gold would say something entirely different, and by the end of the book, that is the reader’s responsibility to catch and attach meaning to.
Overall, as the book picked up in the final quarter, I really enjoyed it. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and they are all distinct and enjoyable. Mustang and her determined optimism, Servo and his devoted wickedness, Pax and his good humor and burly nature. So many Golds that we’re supposed to hate, and yet love anyway. And then there’s others, so many others that you actually do hate!
Another great thing about this book is its creative use of Greek Mythology. Now, I know my basics, but I’m by no means an expert. I’m sure there were references I didn’t get, or names that could have hinted to me that a character would turn out a certain way, but I don’t think my lack of knowledge detracted from the reading experience in any way.
Also, you might not expect this, because many label this book as young adult, but it deals with many adult themes. Murder, gruesome deaths (a personal favorite of mine involves people climbing out of dead horses to attack a fort), betrayal, and rape (that happens off screen). But still, there’s a lot of very mature content, either on screen or alluded to.
The emotions are very real in this book. Darrow grows a lot, and I can’t wait to see where he ends up in the next book. The tension of Red Rising is far from settled, in fact, these problems are likely to get much worse for Darrow before they get better.
And that’s good writing.
Even if it was slow.
So, my recommendation? Don’t give up. Because you’ll want to. At least, if you’re like me, you’ll get bored, and you’ll predict a few things and think that the book has no surprises to offer.
You’re wrong. Keep reading, I promise it’s worth the time.
I’m sorry this review was so long in coming, and that it’s not as effervescent as my usual reviews. I finished it at the beginning of the month, and if I tried to go back now and track the details for you, I’d just make a mess of things. So, I hope this review gives a little insight, and helps you decide whether you should read it or not.
Again, I think it’s more than worth your time. And I can’t wait to read the sequel, Golden Son.
Until next time, Blogland.