Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 28 January, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
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The war begins...
Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.
Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow 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..
The hype is warranted – Red Rising completely and utterly blew me away with the strength and fire of the main character, advanced war and army tactics and the extensive world building of clans who inhabit Mars.
Darrow is a Red Helldiver, who works in the mines beneath the surface of Mars. When his wife Eo, sings a song of a revolution, she is brutally hung and made into a martyr. Darrow is turned into a Gold, those who live on the surface of Mars and inhabit the rest of the planet to their bidding. Golds are superior in every way, from their appearance, to their strength and wisdom. The Golds enter a war game called the Institute, where those who emerge victorious will be selected for the highest ranking roles in society. Others will perish in the cruel game that is the Institute.
Red Rising revealed a world that was both futuristic and primal in nature. The technology, weapons and armour used in war are powerful, rewarding the giver with additional powers such as the HoverBoot, the invisibility cloak, and more. The war itself was vicious in nature, as those who rise to the top of the army cut off people’s food sources, murder other players of the game, pillage and rape and take others into slavery. I couldn’t wrap my head around why the Golds, supreme creatures of the planet who have a life of leisure and comfort, would choose to participate in such a cruel game resulting in death, slavery and starvation. It was a cruel mockery of the other colours who don’t have a choice of what they have to do, and those superior choose to throw it all away.
“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.” – Darrow
Darrow is a vicious and fiery character who learns the tactics of war quickly. Eo’s sacrifice for him, and the hope of his people on his shoulders lead him to a single goal – to become the Primus of the House of Mars, and rise to the ranks of the superior Golds. He isn’t the smartest, he isn’t the strongest, but he certainly is the most driven towards achieving his goal. Unlike the others competing to be the Primus, like Cassius and Titus, Darrow knows how to gain people’s loyalty and motivate his men. It is this resolve that drives him to his final victory, and the story is exhilarating and intense.
It took me two weeks to read Red Rising, because of it’s sheer intensity. There is a lot happening on the battlefield, as Darrow becoming a leader was not an easy journey. There will be allies, some of which will change allegiance during the course of the game. There will be enemies, some which are obvious and others unknown to the players. And there will be betrayals, secrets and manipulations because everyone is gunning to win.
Move over Hunger Games clones, for Red Rising is THE must read dystopian/sci-fi book and it is brutal, bloody and glorious.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5