Publication Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Genre: Dystopia (YA)
The sole reason I wanted to read Red Rising was because it was set on Mars. I didn’t really need to know anything else. I was expecting major science fiction stuff: the discovery of planets, terraforming, space ships, the works. But the book isn’t really like that. It is more of a dystopian, and honestly it couldn’t have been set on Earth or anywhere. The Mars aspect didn’t really matter the way I was expecting it to. Not that the setting and description weren’t great, but it was not necessarily “Mars” in my opinion. It could have been somewhere else.
This story is about Darrow who is a Red, a race (an aspect apparently defined by hair and eye color, though that isn’t very clear) of slaves who works mining the subsoil of Mars in order to make it inhabitable for Earth citizens. However, he soon finds out that all his life had been a lie and that Mars has been inhabited and fully functional for centuries. The Golds, the so called superior race, live among the surface, controlling all the other colors (almost every shade is mentioned on this). Now Darrow must become a Gold and exert his revenge, freeing the society from the dictatorship of the colors.
This is just a short synopsis. This story gets really complex and it involves a “Hunger Games” style sort of school competition throughout most of the book. Overall it was a great concept and it had a ton of action and a good political comment. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a favorite for me.
First of all, there was too much info dumping, confusing names, there’s greek/roman mythology thrown here and there without any clear meaning besides the superficial “certain Gods with certain qualities”. The world is full of strange phrasing and different words that in my opinion weren’t really necessary. You get used to it eventually, but in the beginning it is hard to get into. The situation per se is not difficult to comprehend, but the dynamics of the colors (how they came to be this way, the colors of their eyes, what are their skin colors? is it varied?) and the nuances of the world just aren’t clear enough. I wouldn’t say underdeveloped, because it isn’t. But it is not very easy to grasp. Maybe that will be clearer in future books.
As for the action scenes, there were just way too many, and with no emotional charge, which is not the kind of thing I personally like. I found myself skimming some of the battle scenes. They are boring to me. This probably won’t be a problem for everyone, though. If you like battles and war strategy, I would say this book is for you. But I’m not really into that. It took me unusually long to read. Maybe it was because I didn’t have a lot of time, but still, it wasn’t constantly good. Some chapters made me want to keep going and were exciting, while others were just meh.
Another thing is that I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, I just didn’t feel like most of them were really developed. They were just names on a page. Even Darrow, though the story is from his POV, felt a little two-dimensional for me. The story is just more focused on plot and action, which is not bad, but it shouldn’t steal light from character development.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read, just not my favorite. I do want to read the sequel, Golden Son, but I think I’m going to wait until it gets an ebook deal or something.
What about you? Have you read this book? Did you like it? If you haven’t read it, does it sound like the book for you?