Red Rising by Pierce Brown is the first in a trilogy of YA dystopian novels. It tells the story of Darrow who, after his wife’s martyrdom, is given the opportunity to escape his lower class existence in order to infiltrate his society’s elite. The idea behind this is that he will give the rebels opposing the current regime a man on the inside to help bring down the current system. When he learns that his class has been lied to for many years, he doesn’t hesitate to take this opportunity.
I received a copy free to review from Netgalley. Del Rey is promoting Red Rising quite heavily at the moment, and it’s always quite fun to see books I’ve read free on huge piles in bookstores or in internet advertisements. Feedback has been generally excellent – Red Rising has an average rating of 4.35 on GoodReads.
What I liked
Good worldbuilding. Brown does an excellent job of setting up the world in which Darrow lives originally, his challenges, and despair at his wife’s death. He then follows it up with a good description of the world of the Golds – the elite – the world Darrow must infiltrate. While survival of the fittest to be accepted into a program is hardly unusual it was well written and enjoyable.
Pacing. The pacing throughout the novel was brisk and kept the story moving along. There was never a point where I was waiting for the next thing to happen.
Characters. The central character dilemma – how to remain true to your values while acting and living as one of the people you despise – was well explored and very interesting. It was clear many times that Darrow was struggling to do what was required of a Gold in terms of ruthlessness. However, it did leave the reader with the definite concern that he might “turn native” so to speak and adapt too well to his Golden status.
What I didn’t like
Just didn’t grab me. There is nothing wrong with this book. It is an interesting premise well executed. For some reason though I just couldn’t connect with the main character. I sympathised with him, but I found I didn’t really care about him. I don’t believe this was any fault of the author, more just personal preference. I’m not certain I will read the second book, Golden Son, when it comes out.
I gave Red Rising three and a half stars out of five.