The premise behind the Red Rising series is very well thought out and immersive. There are a lot of things I dislike about this book but I honestly did enjoy it. Pierce Brown does a great job at creating this futuristic universe ruled by class separation.
Where Brown succeeds is with his world building. I felt like this universe exists and as though I were there. We discover the futuristic technology and patterns of the society with Darrow. Slowly throughout the book, technology and explanations are given, and it is very smooth and enjoyable.
This first book is similar to The Hunger Games series in that it involves a bunch of kids fighting to the death in an impossibly difficult battle for survival. I enjoyed the subtle progression of the plot, but it did move very slowly. This slow-burn style really did feel necessary, however, because we are learning about this world along with the main character, Darrow.
Darrow has a very adaptive personality and this is the key to his survival. His life as a Red made him strong, resilient, and determined. It is this strength that makes him so resilient once he becomes a Gold. I did have a few issues with Darrow, however. The biggest one being that he felt very one dimensional at times. He is constantly described as being the best and the strongest which became very repetitive. It is nice when a character has a lot of development and when readers can see the progress of a character, and I felt like this didn’t really happen with Darrow.
Another issue I had was with the message that Brown is trying (and failing?) to convey. There’s a lot of politics involved in this book – a color based society – but I couldn’t quite grasp what Brown was trying to do with it all. He is obviously trying to comment on societal inequalities, but is he successful? It didn’t feel like it. I believed very much in the societal inequalities between the Reds and the Gold and everyone in between, but the book focusses very little on that and more so on Darrow. The only thing that is very clear is that Darrow is the best at everything and only he can save this world. Darrow is supposed to be this no-name kid from the lowest class system but somehow he’s better and smarter than everyone and it was kind of hard to believe after a while.
What I enjoyed: The science fiction undertones – colonization of Mars and technology used to change Darrow from Red to Gold
What I disliked: Darrow’s characterization
Would I recommend this book: yes
This review is cross-posted here under the title, Red Rising Review *SPOILERS*.