2007. I remember when I first started reading Games of Thrones, the first book of George RR Martin’s epic Song of Fire and Ice series. It took me a few chapters to understand and fully follow the style and language, but as soon as I got to that point, I WAS HOOKED.
Since, there hasn’t been a book, or series, that has captivated me as quickly or as intensely...until Red Rising, the first book in the Red Rising trilogy, by Pierce Brown.
I. Couldn’t. Put. It. Down.
No, seriously. It was bad. Not the book! I'm talking about my total lack of interest in everything else. I wasn’t gaming with my husband or hanging out with my friends...all I wanted to do was read. EVERYTHING about the book was incredible, especially the setting, the characters, and the writing.
I think the book is best described as a Sci-Fi/Fantasy hybrid. It takes place in the far future (Sci-Fi), where the planets of the solar system have been colonized and each are governed by powerful families (Fantasy). They are all ruled by Octavia au Lune, who lives on Luna, also known as Earth’s moon. The story’s setting starts in the depths of Mars’s core, where our lead character is mining for helium-3 to support planet colonization. We also travel to the surface of Mars, into its slums, and into the society’s top educations institution, where the young elite are trained to rule. Each location is depicted beautifully.
The storyline follows 16-year-old Darrow, a Red, who lives a simple life with his wife and family. In Darrow’s world, people are classified by color (and I'm not talking about the color of their skin). The Golds are the rich and powerful, whereas the Reds are the poorest with the least desirable jobs. Between, there is a whole spectrum of color, with each representing a different skill and station in life. Pierce does an excellent job of introducing the reader to characters of all colors and stations. And all shortcomings. The characters are very realistic, very believable, and very flawed. They are wicked, yet redeeming, sultry, yet vulnerable, beautiful, yet deadly. They are complex, which makes them real and relatable.
Finally, Mr. Brown’s writing is absolutely incredible. His use of slang language is so thorough, so fluid, that I was instantly drawn into Darrow’s ruddy world. Sure, it took some getting used to, but that’s what made my brain tickle. I just HAD to make sense of this incredibly intricate language and dialect. He also does an incredible job of describing the complicated settings and characters. My imagination danced along with this text, creating vivid imagery and emotional attachment. I felt like I was a part of the story - the writing knew how to draw me in and keep me there, in the throws of the story.
I don’t want to give too much away...the book is just so good and I want everyone to experience every little bit of it…
Like I mentioned, the story follows Darrow. He is poor, and lives underneath the surface of Mars along with huge colonies of fellow Reds. One day, Darrow and his wife, Eo, are caught breaking the rules. The punishment? A public whipping. At the display, Eo, in rebellion, decides to sing a forbidden song, a crime punishable by death. On orders from the ArchGoverner of Mars, a Gold, she is hung on the spot, in front of the underground population, including Darrow.
Red Rising is a story of his quest for vengeance...a quest that turns into an incredible journey.
I CAN’T RECOMMEND THIS BOOK ENOUGH. I didn’t even mention the plot...which is by far the best quality of the entire book. But how do I discuss the plot without giving it away??
My favorite since Game of Thrones, I know I will be reading Red Rising one over and over again. AND THEY’RE MAKING A MOVIE! Details are a bit muddied, but it’s definitely listed on IMDB as “in development.” WEEEEEEE!!!!
Pierce Brown is a screenwriter and novelist, currently residing in Los Angeles. He moved around quite a bit while growing up, due to his mother’s successful career. He received his degree from Pepperdine University in 2010 and sold Red Rising in 2012. Red Rising, his debut novel, was #20 on the NY Times Best Seller List. The sequel, Golden Son, rose to #6 on the same list, and the last installment of the trilogy, Morning Star, reached #1. Mr Brown has received the 2014 Goodreads Best New Author award, as well as the 2015 Goodreads Best Science Fiction Novel.