Book Review: Red Rising

red risingI’ve been on quite the sci-fi binge what with the “Dr. Who is being taken off Netflix” scare and other books that I’ve recently picked up so I guess it’s no coincidence that this book fits in with that theme and really takes it to a new level.

Darrow is a simple kind of guy. He has a job, a wife, a family, and a community…and all the age of 16. He also happens to live underneath the surface of Mars, slaving away in a huge drill to collect the precious helium that will help power the known universe and enable the planet to be made livable for everyone else. Or at least that’s what he thinks he is doing.

But when a serious of dark circumstances lead him to an even darker place, he finds out truths about the world he thought he knew and even more, the truth about his wife, his life, and himself. It begins a journey that leads him to the surface where he discovers that the planet has been sustaining life for some time and it is all balancing on the backs of his people, the Reds.

The society is divided into colors, each with different strengths that allow them to be a cohesive member of the whole. Each person has a value add but those at the top benefit the most. Darrow is offered the opportunity to get into the system and change that but if he does, he will have to give up everything he knows and become someone new entirely.

I feel a little misled by the brief description I had been given before reading the book but I understand now that they had to keep a lot out of it in order to maintain the element of surprise. And there are a lot of twisted little things that happen in this book, some are pretty unexpected. There are heart-pounding moments where you feel sure you will be able to guess what happens and then something else will come out at you.

Very well written and descriptive, if a little graphic at times. It reads almost like an epic novel such as The Hobbit, except without the difficult names. There is a quest and a mission and Darrow is setting himself up to both succeed and fail in different ways. There is no doubt that he is a strong character despite all the difficulties he has to face and his humanity is not lost along the way, nor does he lose his mind, admirable traits.

The supporting cast at the beginning of the book is different from the end but the consistent themes of betrayal versus loyalty and self versus group are prominent throughout. He is a conventional hero masquerading as something less…or maybe it’s something more, I can’t quite tell.

Regardless, I really enjoyed this story, the tie in of mythology and family, history and future. Darrow thinks in logical straits although his emotions, especially anger, can get the better of him. Parts of it read like The Hunger Games and others more like a survival story. It truly is a remarkable blend of themes and genres.

Red Rising is intense at times and a little slower at others, pushing towards the inexorable end and shocking you along the way, pick it up for a distracting read that is both entertaining and a little disturbing.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

My personal rating: 89

  • Writing style – 10
  • Plot – 9
  • Dialogue – 9
  • Personality of Main Character(s) – 9
  • Love story – 8
  • Invokes emotion – 10
  • Synopsis accuracy – 7
  • Consistent level of interest – 8
  • Stays on topic – 9
  • Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 10
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