Monday, August 15, 2016

RED RISING by Pierce Brown

Red rising by Pierce Brown

5 Stars

I originally purchased this book in 2014 for my teenage son, and had no intention to read it myself. After my son finished reading it, he asked me when the sequel was out and if I would pre-order it for him (of course I will!!!). Now it's nearly two years later and I'm first reading it, mainly because when you have a teenage boy who's read the trilogy at least three times, you start to wonder what the fuss is about. I'm so glad I finally decided to pick this up and read it, as it was a fabulously written story, and I'll be jumping in to the remaining books as soon as time permits.

This story takes place in the distant future. It is the story of Darrow, who is a miner on Mars. His clan (and thousands more like it) is led to believe that they are making Mars' landscape hospitable for future generations, under the belief that it is currently unable to sustain life. Darrow is a Red, meaning his eyes, hair, skin, etc are red. Your status is determined by your skin color, and unfortunately for Darrow (and other Reds), Red is the lowest class. But Darrow is fairly happy with his life...he has a wonderful family, a beautiful wife and feels he has enough to get by. Darrow is also only 16 years old, which is middle-aged for Mars Helldiver. Darrow and his clansmen gather helium-3, which is essential to colonizing and sustaining life on Mars (and other planets, moons, etc). Each month, there is a competition between clans to determine who has mined the most helium-3; Darrow is excited because he knows he's mined the most this month, and the prize for gathering the most is extra food and necessities granted by their government. But something is off and Darrow's team doesn't win; they quickly realize that the results are (and have been) rigged. 

Reds are required to live underground; they've never been above ground on Mars. When Darrow's wife shows him a path above ground, they take the chance to see what it's like. They're caught on the way back in and are punished for the "crime". This is the launching point for the whole story. As I mentioned before, your status is determined by your color. Golds are the top of the class, reds are the bottom and there are a myriad of levels in between. But the tone of your color also influences your value or worth. Darrow is shown that there has been life on Mars for quite some time, as there are vast cities; and life on Mars isn't the only place it has been conquered. There are still those who live on Earth; but also on moons and other planets. Darrow is upset at having been duped by the upper classes for so long.

Darrow is able to infiltrate Gold society, and while his hatred is strong, he comes to learn that not all that are at the top are bad, just like all those at the bottom aren't good. He's able to make friends and sees value in some of those he initially thought were vile. And there are some who he now sees as utterly despicable, despite initially thinking they were worthy. This is a complex story, and I'm certain I've not figured out all the nuances, but I can't wait to see what happens.


Side Note:  My son and I had the chance to meet Pierce Brown at Chicago BookCon earlier this year.  Even though it was fantastically busy, he took just a few moments to ask my son about his favorite characters and why he liked them.  It made a great impression on my son, and I think Mr. Brown's found a lifelong reader in my son.

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