Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Red Rising (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 416 pages
Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (2014)
ISBN-10: 034553980X
ISBN-13: 978-0345539809
Author's Website: http://www.redrisingbook.com/
Notes: I borrowed this one from the library.

'My life is a lie. So many times has Octavia au Lune told us of Lykos that we are the pioneers of Mars, that we are the brave souls who sacrifice for the race, that soon our toils for humanity will be over. Soon the softer Colors will join us, once Mars is habitable. But they have already joined us. Earth has come to Mars and we pioneers were left below, slaving, toiling, suffering to create and maintain the foundation of this … this empire. We are as Eo always said—the Society’s slaves. (...)

“They told us we were man’s only hope,” I say quietly. “That Earth was overcrowded, that all the pain, all the sacrifice, was for mankind. Sacrifice is good. Obedience the highest virtue …”(...)

“Reds were sent to Mars five hundred years ago. The other Colors came to Mars about three hundred years back, while our ancestors still toiled beneath the surface. They lived in the paraterraformed cities—cities with bubbles of atmosphere over them—while the rest of the world terraformed slowly. Now the bubbles are coming down and the world is fit for any man.

“HighReds live as maintenance workers, sanitation, grain harvesters, assembly workers. LowReds are those of us born beneath the surface—the truest slaves. In the cities, the Reds who dance disappear. Those who voice their thoughts vanish. Those who bow their heads and accept the rule of the Society and their place in Society, as all Colors do, live on with relative freedom.”

He exhales a cloud of smoke.

I feel outside my body, as though I’m watching the colonization of worlds, the transformation of the human species, through eyes that are not my own. The gravity of history drew my people into slavery. We are the bottom of the Society, the dirt. Eo always preached something of the like, though she never knew the truth. If she had known this, how much more passionately would she have spoken? This existence is worse than she ever could have imagined. It is not hard to understand the conviction with which the Sons of Ares fight.

“Five hundred years.” I shake my head. “This is our bloodydamn planet.”

“Through sweat and toil it was made so,” he agrees.

“Then what will it take to take it back?”

“Blood.” Dancer smiles at me like a township alleycat. There’s a beast behind this man’s fatherly smiles.

Eo was right. It comes to violence.'

This is the first book in the Red Rising trilogy and I cannot wait to read the final book. February cannot come soon enough and I've already got this one on pre-order. Of all the books I want to read in 2016, Morning Staris at the top of the list--not second, not third, but numero uno. I read this one and immediately devoured the second all in the span of two days. If you liked the The Hunger Games, you will probably like this series as well. It's like the grown up version of The Hunger Games meets the vision of Adolf Hitler's perfect world. (Scary, I know.)

The book takes place in the future on Mars after a group of humans has terraformed the planet and established their own rule over it. The division between societies is more than just economic based. Golds are stronger, taller, faster, and  thought to be smarter than the people of the other tiers. They've been bred to be so, although the details of how this was accomplished aren't mentioned. They are also vicious cut throats who have been born and raised into a dog eat dog world where only the strongest survive.

Darrow is a strong, smart, and charismatic individual who people tend to listen to and follow. He's a low red who has been chosen to be the person to infiltrate the Golds and bring them down. Think of David versus Goliath, but instead of taking down one individual he needs to bring down the whole of the society. Ironically, he isn't a violent or vengeful individual, and what sends him over the edge is the death of his wife, Eo. Had they left Darrow and his wife alone, nothing would have inspired him to attempt to go against the Golds. It is Eo's dream that gives Darrow's life purpose and spurs him to do what he normally wouldn't. Eo dreamed of a world in which their children could be born free to be who and what they'd like to be. To be able to own land and not live off the scraps that Golds throw their way. The opportunity to be more. 

One of the most significant hurdles Darrow must overcome is the differences in his physical appearance to the Golds. He's significantly shorter than the average Gold, has different coloring (hair and eye color), and doesn't have the surgical implants which identify a person as a Gold. I couldn't help but wonder if  his transformation was inspired, in part, by that of the Ethan Hawke character in the 1997 movie Gattaca where a genetically inferior man goes through extreme measures to take on the identity of another in order to become part of a team to travel into space. The film definitely came to mind while I read the transformation scenes, and both the film and this book made me cringe.

I ended up giving this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. The story managed to capture my attention from start to finish. At times it was a little slow, but I felt this was done as a means to emphasize the enormity of the transformation Darrow had to go through. It also afforded us our first glimpse of how the society works as we observe how some of the different casts interact. The task that Darrow is taking on is huge. Can one man make a difference? Well, I believe it was Joe Walcott who once said, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." The question being once they've fallen, will they stay down for the count? I look forward to seeing what this author has up his sleeve. I just hope he can deliver what his first two books seemingly promise is coming. No pressure Mr. Brown. No pressure at all. *SMIRK*

Order of the series:

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