Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pierce Brown has taken something that should be familiar to any reader of the distopian genre and made it different at the same time. I can see what people are saying when they compare Red Rising to The Hunger Games. These two books are about young people entering an arena to compete in a winner take all contest. And while I enjoyed Suzanne Collins' romp, I feel that Brown did it better. His idea and world is far more original than Collins' is, the plot isn't as plodding as The Hunger Games, and Brown's prose is far more polished.
Brown excels in his world building. I was very interested in this world where man has expanded far beyond the horizons of earth and conquered the solar system. I was interested in this caste system of colors: golds at the top, reds at the bottom. I was interested in the technology, the ships, and the weapons. Unfortunately, Brown doesn't spend a ton of time exposing the reader to these interesting things. He has a story to tell and needs to get Darrow into that arena. I am hoping that Brown spends more time revealing his world to the reader in the subsequent novel. Because of this novel's ending I think that is likely.
He did take less time to establish the character of Darrow and so, I didn't care as much about his main character as I did about Katniss Everdeen. Collins spent half of her novel allowing the reader to get to know Katniss and that was preferable to the few chapters we were able to spend with Darrow before he was sent on his mission. It was difficult to connect with Darrow because of this. By the end of the novel I felt conflicted though because the Darrow at the end of the novel is so different than the Darrow of the beginning.
Overall, this was a fun read. I can't fault the book for having similarities to other books in the same genre. After all, genre simply is a way we categorize books or movies that have similarities...right? I am interested in the second and third books, but I might not get to them right away. Too many books on my TO READ list as it is.
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