by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Published on January 28th, 2014
by Random House LLC
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Length: 16 hours 12 minutes
Source: Purchased for Audible
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Also by this author: Golden Son, Morning Star (Red Rising, #3)
The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.
This book. Red Rising is all kinds of amazing. This is like nothing I’ve ever read before and a combination of a lot of things I’ve read before. I know I’m not making any sense, but bear with me while I try to make sense of it myself.
Now, here’s the thing. For the most part I listened to the audio for the book (more about the audio later), but at a certain point I had to go back to the eBook for a little white (thank goodness for whispersync) because some of the words that are unique and I couldn’t understand them well just by listening to them. For instance ArchGovernor, ArchPrimus, gravLift, holoImmersion or medBot are weird words, but worry not dear reader because it all makes sense at the end.
“We grew together, and now are grown. In her eyes, I see my heart. In her breath, I hear my soul. She is my land. She is my kin. My love.”
This is a long book and I won’t attempt to retell the story for you. The story can be divided in three parts and we will discuss each in turn (mind you that this is the way I “divided” the story in my mind, the book itself has four parts.) Part one: In the beginning of the book we are introduced to the Reds. The Society is divided by “colors” which are a group of people that are genetically engineered for a specific purpose. Thus the Reds are the slaves of the Society, they dig the helium-3 that serves to make planets habitable. The trick is that they don’t know they are slaves, they believe their sacrifice will save a doomed Earth. Darrow is a Helldiver, brave, smart, young, loving, and simple. He’s married to Eo and that love is taken from him. I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but it is heartbreaking to read about the depth of his love and the depth of the oppression that the Reds live under.
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free. That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.’
‘I live for you,’ I say sadly.
She kisses my cheek. ‘Then you must live for more.’ ”
Part two: Darrow is “rescued” from death by a group of revels (as it says in the description, I promise there are no spoilers!), that open his eyes to the truth. It is a mindboggling concept and very hard to come to terms with. Darrow is asked to pass himself as a Gold to bring the structure of the Society down from within. This might sound easy, but it’s not. Each “color” behaves, talks, and looks different, so Darrow’s transformation is long, and painful. Not only does he need to look like a Gold, but he also needs to learn how to “be” and think like them and then get into their Academy.
“You have made me give up the hair Father gave me, the eyes Mother left me, the Color I was born to, so I will keep the name they granted me, and you can make it work.”
Part three: When Darrow goes into the Academy his life is turned into an extreme “Hunger Games” scenario. The caveat is that that the goal is not to kill each other, but to tease out the leaders, and eliminate the weaklings. It is violent, scary, unjust, and long (almost a year long.) BUT, during this time Darrow learns to become a different kind of leader. Others follow him because they want to, not because they have to. He learns to be a great tactician and to anticipate other’s moved. He’s helped by “Mustang” a Gold that has a new vision of the future could be.
“You do not follow me because I am the strongest. Pax is. You do not follow me because I am the brightest. Mustang is. You follow me because you do not know where you are going. I do.”
The world building is outstanding. The Society is somewhat based on Roman culture and in a world where people like Hitler, Alexander, Spartans and such are role models and democracy is mocked. Most names are Roman and so is the mythology. However, this is a Fantasy / Sci-fi and is based on the fact that other planets are habitable, were there is advanced technology, and the power to do many things (not all bad.) The writing is incredible good, so graphic, enthralling, and captivating. Oh my, this story is AMAZING! You never guess what’s coming next, it’s so interesting and I can’t wait to see where Darrow is taking us next.
“Man cannot be freed by the same injustice that enslaved it.”
Overall, Red Rising is an epic beginning to what I hope it’s an incredible series. I cannot wait to read Golden Sun!
About the audio: Red Rising was narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds and he was amazing. This is definitely one of the best audio books I have ever heard. The performance is amazing, voices are distinct and even the accent is different from Reds and Golds. I hope that Reynolds keeps narrating the series 😉