Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Publisher/date: Del Rey (2014)
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi
Series: Red Rising
Rating: T with violence, there is mention of rape but no sexual content
"They didn't create me. She did."
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he toils willingly, trusting that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
Here is a handy link to a complete list of the social castes by color, which is very handy when you can't remember what's what.
I was told to read this by some bookish friends on Instagram who know how much I love The Hunger Games and The Illuminae Files. Red Rising is a combination of those two series, and I can't believe I'm this late to that game. I'm lucky I picked it up now, because Fairyloot just came out with a beautiful set of these that I've already purchased! (They're still available here.)
First, Darrow. It's been a while since I've read a series with a male protagonist, so that was nice for a change! He's perfect, I'm totally shipping on him and Mustang. He's amazing and brave and still afraid and I love him! I know people book boyfriend guys like Rhys and Rowan, but for me, Darrow is the man!!!
The combo of dystopian and sci-fi just works so well here. There isn't too much of the scientific explanation to bore me to tears as sometimes can happen in that genre, and not to much battle jargon and ship descriptions and blah blah blah. Just enough to understand the plot, i.e. the perfect amount!
Some dystopian books (and TV shows) fall into the despair bucket for too long. A good author knows how to give you enough to hope, while still constantly worrying about the protagonist's well-being. This book strikes the perfect balance. You're always worried about Darrow giving away too much, but at the same time just want him to be able to trust someone. His pain over his wife is palpable, but at the same time you want him to be happy. Can I say perfect enough times for you to understand how much I love Pierce Brown?
AND THE PLOT TWISTS! They just keep coming and coming. I've had to read and reread this review to make sure I don't spoil anything for you, because talk about shocker!
5 Stars, I love and adore this series and thank you to everyone who recommended it to me! It IS like a sci-fi Hunger Games!