Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising pictureHello all. So it’s been a couple of months since I’ve last written (insert reader shaking head in disgust here) and I’m very sorry about that.  It’s been a pretty busy stretch, but I promise I’ll be back in full force by summer time and will keep posting when I can until then.  In the meantime, here’s a new, much needed post!

Brief Summary: Darrow is a Red, a low-life human forced to work the mines of Mars.  But when Darrow joins a secret resistance society, he gets the chance to infiltrate the school of the powerful and cruel ruling Golds—and with rage and cunning he is determined to end their rein: Red, is rising. 

The Tsundoku Scale:  Middle of the pile, 7 out of 10.

The Good:  For the first 80 or so pages, I absolutely hated this book—and then for the rest of the story I found I couldn’t put it down.  The book is action-packed and entertaining—almost the entire story takes place within a ‘game’ at the Gold Institute that is much more deadly than Darrow, the main character, could have ever imagined.  Basically the book is a mix of Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games placed in a SuperSmash Bros melee free-for-all stage. All with some great plot twists sprinkled in as well.  As the series will be a trilogy, I am comforted in how the author seems to grow as the book progresses and though his characters start off fairly hollow in the beginning (almost as if they were just figureheads for his ideas), the characters truly begin to fill out by the end of the book: they begin to become real characters and not just caricatures, and I am excited to see where they will go. 

The Bad: The beginning is really bad, and there’s no way around it.  The writing is short and choppy, and Pierce Brown uses so many unnecessary made-up words like drillClaw that it’s hard to pay attention to the story with all the pointless lingo.  And for almost half the book, Darrow is the annoyingly dumb character who frankly does not get much of anything.  For a while, Darrow is all brawn and raw impulses, and no brain.  More worrisome, however, is that it was often hard as a reader to feel compassion for Darrow’s raw, impulsive emotions because for most of the story there’s not much of Darrow to relate to, even though he himself is the narrator.  Even now, at the end of the novel, it is hard for me to say I am particularly invested in any character, and that it would pain me to see them die or run into an unfortunate situation.  I like the book because the story draws me in, and because the story of each character intrigues me, but the characters themselves still feel so distant.  But by the end of this first book, that gap of distance has certainly started to recede.