Aaron Bunce's Reviews > Red Rising

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
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really liked it

This is a difficult book to review...why? Because ultimately, it feels like 2 completely different stories. The first segment follows Darrow, his young wife, and their life together as lowly miners slaving to make Mars habitable. This portion of the book was wonderful, once you get acclimated to the accents, dialect specific language, and exposition-heavy writing. (It gets thick) The second part took me by surprise, as it veered off into a strange, hard pg-13 version of Harry Potter meets Ender's Game, plus a dash of Game of Thrones. Darrow is remade into a gold and thrust into the institute, which is essentially a medieval version of survivor, meets capture the flag. The dialog was good, but became scattered at times. I listened to the audio book version, and got lost in some conversations because of a lack of dialog tags. The writing is really the hardest thing to overcome in this book as it was written in a style I am not entirely used to: 1st person - present tense.

With that said, the story really did grip me. Sufficient time is spent building Darrow as a character to understand his ambitions, the events that drive him, and his ultimate goals. Those, in part, are why I ultimately bonded with him as a character. He isn't perfect, despite the fact that he is trying to play "the" part, amidst a sea of elevated peers. Darrow is relatable, flawed, and ever aware of those facts.

The uses of colors was one thing that confused me early on. There are references to his, or her, red hair, and even eye color, but without sufficient detail, I was left with a number of questions. Are these classes of people (reds, golds, pinks, whites, obsidians, and grays) always wearing their color? Are their bodies these colors as well? If not, how are these people identified by their colors, and resulting class? Also, the action receives the lions share of attention, forcing the setting to drift into the background, sadly forgotten and out of focus. I love to inhabit the worlds created in books. Red Rising promised a rich one, and in some ways it delivered, and others, failed. There are castles, forests, sprawling, gravity defying cities, and an underground mining community that would make the original Total Recall proud. Yet, it is all painted in broad strokes. We read about things like fry suits, burners, and grav boots, but it was like I was supposed to already know what these things are, and what they look like.

In the end, Red Rising is a relatively fresh take on the Y.A. hero elevation trope, buts its all been done now. Harry Potter, Maze Runner, Divergent, the list goes one. They all deal with young people thrust into a new world, sorted, trying to find their place in this society, and ultimately fighting an unjust world or structure, but Red Rising doesn't pull any punches. The darker, grittier tone works well, as it represents the harsh realities of life for these people. By the end of the story, I was hooked. If you decide to read, stick with it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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Reading Progress

March 31, 2014 – Shelved
March 31, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
April 5, 2016 – Started Reading
May 3, 2016 – Finished Reading

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