Do you ever read a book so good that when you hit the last page you wind up sitting there, clutching the book to your chest and just chanting, “it was so good, it was so good.” That’s how I felt about Pierce Brown’s Red Rising.
To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about this book. I received the ARC and the Publisher’s note spoke about the class conflict and oppressive government and the setting on Mars. Eh. I’ve seen those themes a million times. But I decided to give the book a shot.
It took me a little while to adapt to the writing style, but the books’ color caste system (check out the foundation on the Red Rising site) was intriguing and accessible and Brown painted Darrow, our protagonist, as impulsive, brave, caring and just plain exceptional. Someone aptly named a Helldiver.
So we start with an interesting layer, both literal and figurative, of the Reds in their tunnels; then emotions and dreams are laid on through Darrow’s wife Eo; then a larger rebellion unfolds. The Gold transformation is incredible and Darrow remains uniquely himself. There are lines where Darrow describes himself and I just get chills from his words. Then the final layer (so far), the testing. The author’s bio mentions Brown’s love of Hogwarts and you see that complexity in this section, in the lessons that Darrow learns, the challenges he faces and the friendships, enemies and alliances he builds. Can we trust Mustang, will Pax be won, what drives Servo, will Cassius learn the truth?
There’s endless action, romance and great touches of mythology throughout. The rest of the book flies by and it’s like reading one of the great works by Martin or Tolkein without having to work quite so hard to enjoy it. It might be a SciFi book about Mars, but it’s not like any book I’ve read about Mars. I recommend it to anybody who likes, well, books.