Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a little Enders Game, a little Battle Royale, and a little 1984 with a dash of Harry Potter.
I don’t usually write such short reviews, but in some ways, while a lot happens in this book, not very much happens. Which is to say that it’s the first book of a trilogy so nothing huge can get resolved. It’s a lot of setup in 3 parts, each with their own beginning, middle, and end. That’s what Pierce Brown does so well and which keeps me from being TOO upset at the fact that at the end of this book, things are only beginning for the main character. Yet we have already seen him have 3 arcs. He’s grown so much in the approximately 2 years in which the book takes place and yet he also reminds somewhat blinded in simplicity by his goal.
The book, like this review, is awash in contradictions. Another example is in the fact that the final third of the book is populated by about 200 teens who would be considered gifted by our standards and yet also are the jocks of their society. It’s like being the poorest rich kid, you know? In your world you are treated the way middle class people treat the poor. Yet both poor and middle class would kick you for feeling that way. The author, through Darrow is constantly reminding us that even the “brutes” are insanely smart.
Brown has set up an awesome world with a rich history at the end of the first book. The question is whether I or anyone else reading now will care next year when the second book comes out. That’s part of the problem of a pre-planned trilogy – at least for those of us who jump in at the beginning. I imagine those who pick it up later will soar right into book 2 as soon as the first is done.
If the world hasn’t tired of Battle Royale and Hunger Games and the like – this would be a great spin on the idea. It combines the frenetic pace of those movies with a bit of a science fiction element.
Finally, I heard the Recorded Books version. The narrator is a great voice actor. He does a great job with a great many voices. It really did make me feel like I could hear a bunch of different characters.