Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Date Published: January 28th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Audiobook Length: 16 hours 10 minutes
Audiobook Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Description: "I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.” “I live for you,” I say sadly. Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
My feelings on Red Rising have flopped back and forth from “woa this is awesome/shocking” to “ugh so slow”. Let’s back up – this book is praised all over, and is often compared to The Hunger Games (well, all dystopia books are anyway). I didn’t really think of this as a YA, and only later realized it is classified as such. This didn’t feel YA at all (I mean, the main character was married), and it certainly is much darker and more violent than other YA books I have read. I think the audiobook narrator did a great job, though the accent and deep voice might have been what threw me off the YA scent heh. The book started out super slow to me and in fact I had to put it down for a while and listen to a few other books before I returned to it. The point where the plot takes off though hit me so hard and that shock really pulled me into the story. From there I was a lot more into it and was glad I decided to pick it back up. I only read a couple of other books where the main character was physically altered to look like someone else in order to infiltrate or spy on another party. What I thought was quite awesome was the lowest rank in this society, a Red, was altered to look like a Gold, one of the elite. The book slowed down again after that when Darrow had to learn to be a Gold – to use Gold language instead of Red slang, to learn to use his new muscles, etc. The plan is for Darrow to become a Gold, rise up high in the ranks, and take down the Golds that are oppressing everyone else. What I didn’t expect was once Darrow goes into the Gold Institute, the plot to basically turn into war games. (So in that way, I can kind of see why it is compared to The Hunger Games a lot.) The war games took up the rest of the plot, and it really bogged down for me. Some events were exciting and shocking and really carried the plot further, but other sections just dragged. I really liked the friendships forged and alliances made, especially since Darrow started out hating all the Golds for who they were as a whole, until he got to know some of them. I did like the ending and I think the decision Darrow makes will give him many opportunities to continue pursuing his original goal. I am curious to see how the story continues so I may read on.