Red Rising (Red Rising #1) – Pierce Brown
(3 / 5)
I love a good bandwagon. Nothing I love more than getting all swept up in the hype for a popular book, and get excited along with others about how fantastic it is and how much better my life is because I read it! This is what was made pretty clear would happen when I read Red Rising – with its 4.26 average on goodreads which is AMAZING! But. Alas. I was not so swept up. Not quite so excited.
Without giving too much away, because the plot is such an important thing, and there are so many big twists and turns that I don’t want to ruin for anyone… But the central character Darrow, is a ‘Red’. Reds are pretty much the lowest of the low class, and the colours increase in class until we reach the ‘golds’ who are the top of the food chain. So Darrow and his wife are living a pretty miserable existence underneath in the mines of Mars. Darrow is a “helldiver” or miner of Helium 3 which is being collected so that one day Mars will be able to be terra-formed and people will be able to live on the surface. So we get to know a little bit about Darrow and his life and then some bad things happen and suddenly he is plummeted into a matrix-take-the-red-pill type of situation where he finds out the horrible truth of the actual real world. So eventually Darrow is taken in by a group who want to bring down the class system, so they make him a gold. Thus begins an epic hunger games type of situation, where ‘gold’ Darrow has to fight for his life in order to rise up the social system, to bring the whole thing crashing down.
I listened to the audio version by Tim Gerald Reynolds, which I thought would be weird considering I had just finished the fabulous Riyria Rising trilogy also narrated by Reynolds. But he puts on a bit of an irish-like accent in this one which made his voice almost unrecognisable. So it was no problem. His singing was a bit of a problem though… I am sure it is more the song than the voice.
I would class it is a cross between the wool series, the hunger games and divergent series, with a bit of other dystopian YA books thrown in there too. Although I’m not sure why this is classed as YA. There is NOTHING YA about it.
So, its quite an intricate plot, and I went into it knowing absolutely NOTHING about the book, except for how great it is supposed to be. So was pretty surprised with the epic hunger games situation which I was not totally expecting.
Its a enriched world that Mr Brown creates, and he does a good job about it. The whole book is well written, filled with extensive character development and vivid scenery. It has lots of blood and gore, action, betrayal, twists and turns, ups and downs. So why then? Why was I not so caught up in this one?
Without the haters getting all “BUT THIS IS MY FAVOURITE BOOK! F*** YOU MEL!”, I would like to disclaim that this is just MY opinion. And we can’t all like the same book! No hate mail please!
Darrow. I had major issues with Darrow. The first being, how on earth he could have been 16 years old. Just like one of my favourite fantasy novels Six of Crows, I had to willingly and purposely PRETEND that he was older so I could enjoy reading about him at all. I get that he kind of had to be that young in order for the story to progress, it just didn’t work. I couldn’t take it seriously, and it was an issue for me whenever I thought about it – so I pretended he was 25 year old Darrow, and even then it was a bit of a stretch, but it worked better for me.
The whinging. Yes, I get it. You’re all angst-y. “I’m really a red, bloody damn it!”. Yes. I get it. I don’t want to hear about it anymore. OH MY GOD HERE HE GOES WHINGING AGAIN! I did listen to the audio version, so perhaps the narration didn’t help with the angst situation, but BLOODY DAMN I was annoyed with him constantly whinging. I actually started listening to the second book too and it is STILL going on! I actually had to stop.
The women. Women in this book are pretty much objects that the male characters get to rape. The reds, rape. The gold’s in the game, rape. Rape everywhere. Even though there were a couple of stronger female characters, they were still at risk of – yup you guessed it, rape. I found it really unnecessary and almost offensive. I understand that its a tough world that they live in, but enough with the raping and pillaging already! And if they weren’t being raped, they were being spoken to or about like trash. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
I was somewhat conflicted. There were some things I really did enjoy about the book. I loved some parts even! Some of the twists were really clever, others were quite predictable. I really enjoyed how he wrote the novel and as you were reading (or listening to in my case), it was like you were listening to a book about war. I appreciated that. I really did. I just didn’t enjoy the book as a whole as much as I was hoping to.
Anyway that’s enough I think. I didn’t find it a bad book. 3 is still a good rating. And perhaps I’m overly critical because I was expecting so much. I don’t know. I am glad I read it. And I will eventually get to the second one after a bit of a break with books that aren’t quite so full on for a while.
Would I recommend Red Rising?
I think its definitely one that you have to experience if you enjoy this kind of fantasy, survival, dystopian sci fi type thing. You might be just like the majority and think it is the best book ever!
I purchased Red Rising at my own expense on audible.com