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  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  • ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista
  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ARC Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

His name is Darrow. Remember his name and remember it well.
He's a hero of sorts. A devastated man who lost everything for a dream.

Through him, the Reds will be rising.

Title: Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1) by Pierce Brown
Release Date: January 28th 2014 (US) / February 2014 (UK)
Published by: Del Rey (US) / Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Source: Publisher (Thanks Hodder!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda...

What was it that was so good about this novel? Every single person I know who've read it has raved about Darrow in some form and way. When I started Red Rising, I immediately knew it was going to be a difficult sort of book to get through. I never really liked Darrow at first and it's one of the reasons why I thought there was no point in reading further. Yes, he was a helldriver, a boy who had never seen the Sun and whose life was all about digging, because he thought he was a pioneer like everyone else, to make Mars a better place to live in and that's good enough for him. He wants a quiet life, peaceful, with his wife Eo and his family and even though life tends to be unfair in Lykos because he's a Red and the lowest kind at that, he bears with it because he doesn't want to end up like his father. I understand that, but I initially thought, is this the boy that will start a change? How? He was weak. I should have known better though, because Pierce Brown, you are one sinister writer. Everything changed when Eo died, but the pain and the hurt did not stop after that. There was more.

And then I came across this quote, and I know Darrow's journey is about to start and that it's going to be the harrowing kind. From then on, I started to look at him in a different perspective.
"Personally, I do not want to make you a man. Men are so very frail. Men break. Men die. No, I've always wished to make a god. So why not carve you to be the god of war?"
Red Rising has that deceptive kind of pace that makes you wonder where the story was going at first. it took me a while to get through the first 20% of the book, but then I see Darrow after his devastating loss and suddenly I find myself gritting my teeth and clutching a pillow as I read on. Reading about Darrow's eventual transformation was also one of the hardest things I had to get through in this book. It's not because it was boring or long, but because you feel every single emotion swirling inside of Darrow as it happens: white hot rage for the lies fed to him and his people, and the enormous pain of losing his love, the injustice in his life. A slave repeatedly dealt with unfair hands by the society's hierarchy that was prevalent in the world he lives in, Darrow's eventual transformation from being a young Helldriver to the Reaper was equally stunning and terrifying. Pierce Brown took his time shaping Darrow's character while building a world, a universe even, filled with unrest, ruled by colors, strength and power. He went through repeated changes, forged by hell and fire. And he was that very foolish boy at first, rash, short tempered, easily ruled by emotions. He's not the clever, calculating sort. He makes mistakes that has devastating consequences. He has moments he was unsure of, bitter, afraid, irrational, torn between his loyalty to his people and the truths he sees as a Gold. I had to remind myself that he's a boy, only just a boy, and yet he goes through test after test of not just his wit, his courage, but also tests of will and emotions until he becomes stronger, smarter, calmer, more powerful, methodical.

This story is grim and gruesome. Do not expect some laughable, fluffy moments to appear. There are none. Red Rising will overwhelm people with a powerful combination of cruelty, violence, bloody battles. Savagery. Gore. Mutilation. Death. This was all written in great detail, and Pierce Brown never held back. Mars, the Red planet, sets a grisly stage for Darrow. But do not expect the plot to unravel just like that. It's a merciless world Darrow lives in, and he gradually discovered that through the first step of his journey, when he tries to become one of them. The Golds, the best of the best, the ruling class, the one with power, wealth, money and influence. But you know what's fascinating in this set-up? The Golds are not what they seem to be. They lived in a world as brutal as the Reds, relentless, competitive, playing a high level game of politics and tactics, whose aim is to drive home lessons they must not forget. If they wanted to control the world, they should first learn to control themselves. And control comes in a hefty price. Sometimes you make friends, most of the time you need to kill them. Sometimes you're the leader, until you are betrayed in the worst way. It makes you wonder how wrong this world is, how unjust it can be and not just for the under privileged, but also for those who are deemed to be at the top.

I was prepared to see a full scale rebellion, but Red Rising plunged me in an even dizzying world of war, a simulation that was all too real, a game that was a small scale version of what is to happen  if Darrow was to achieve his purpose. There were secrets everywhere, clever exercises, alliances made and broken, tactics established, challenges issued, battles lost and won, unlikely friendships formed and untimely, budding, unexpected romance. Romance was the least bit of my concern in this book, because Darrow's heart will always be with Eo, but seeing Mustang changes things a little bit. Mercifully, Pierce Brown threw a little bit of positivity in the mix, because as you read, you'll start thinking whether Darrow's misery will ever end. And then when all things were said and done, I take a look at Darrow and I feel two things: I marvel at the boy he has become, and I become afraid for the person he was set to be.

Red Rising has set the bar high for a debut dystopia - science fiction book. It feels a little bit weird to think of it as a debut with how well Pierce Brown crafted this story. It was nothing short of brilliant. It was badass. It was gory. It was amazing. It was intense, heartrending, harrowing and agonizing. I have no idea where Pierce Brown got his inspiration and idea for a story like this, but it's such an incredible story. Here's a boy broken and put back together, with nothing but hatred and pain, thrown into the wolves' den in a body that wasn't his to begin with, with the fate of an entire planet in his hands. How does Pierce Brown do this? Red Rising is a kind of book I have never, ever, read of before. One of the best tales of revenge and vengeance ever told, and it's only the beginning.

To those with delicate conditions and are weak hearted, this book is not for you. There are countless moments that will be hard to digest in Red Rising, and you need a formidable resolve to get through most of them. But at the end of the book, you will see that it's all worth it.

My rating:

Content (plot, story flow, character):
Take all the butterflies in the Galaxy, Pierce. You've earned them.

Pierce Brown is as merciless as his story is. He breaks your heart a lot of times in this book. There's no shortage of killings here, and just when you begin to form a bond with a character, you see him dead. It's a repeating cycle. You hate some, you love some, you'll mourn for some, you cheer for some, you fear some. Let me just say this: Cassius is a character of note, and I am very excited to know more about him. What a potentially destructive character. And of course, I'm looking forward to seeing more of Mustang and her very scary older brother.

Stunning: Worthy of a Goddess' Praise!

Book Cover:
You will want to hug the book so hard once you see it in real life. SO BEAUTIFUL.

1 comment:

  1. Your review makes me want to buy the book now. Good one!


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