Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Red Rising ~ Pierce Brown (earc) review [@DelReySpectra]

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1)
Del Rey
January 28, 2014
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

The first book in the Red Rising Trilogy starts with seventeen-year-old Darrow, a Helldiver, a Red, and his crew mining helium-3. It's their belief that they're doing this all - risking their lives, many losing their lives - to make Mars habitable for future generations. They're pioneers.

Darrow believes wholeheartedly in what they've always been told. His wife, Eo, does not. Risking everything, she shows Darrow that there is more than the underground, barely habitable surroundings they have. Not only has Mars already been terraformed (what they're supposedly working towards), but the Golds enjoy it already.

Fighting against the Golds who keep the Reds enslaved, who enjoy the true bounty of the planet is Eo's goal, however, not Darrow's. He's not even ready to act when he loses his his wife, his love. Forced into some sort of action, its vengeance he seeks. Vengeance against the Golds.

Transformed from the Red he was, he'll be disguised to fit in among the Golds. To find a place at their elite school and bring them down from the inside. The school isn't any school, though. With no classrooms, this is one where learning kakes place on the battlefield. The Golds may be privileged, but they can be ruthless as well - with their own goals.

I feel like the only person who did not just love Pierce Brown's Red Rising. The novel started out very slowly for me, the first twenty or thirty percent reading very slowly. While that beginning was necessary for setting up the characters, who they were and why things after that happened, I wish it had been laid out differently. This is one book where I wonder if, instead of a strictly linear timeline, starting around Darrow's transformation, going back to the beginning for the 'why,' and then continuing the story would have been better? Or for me it would have. (But, as I said, I'm in the minority with my feelings on this book.)

I really liked Eo and how she was portrayed. She wasn't exactly a dreamer, but was much less pragmatic than most of those around her. She knew what she wanted, both in Darrow and in not accepting only what they were given. Whether that was to her detriment or not was not her main concern and in the Red's world that made her stand-out.

Darrow's love for her did feel confusing at times. When it was being used as the impetus or the catalyst for his big transformation into a Gold, it was a grand, encompassing thing. Later, when the plot needed romance (action, tension or just the thought) it seemed diminished. While that's expected to happen over time, some of the waxing and waning seem to depend on whether it was Darrow's motivation or a certain character being discussed.

The action in the middle of the novel, especially, was very well done. While there was more violence, more murder than I typically like in my reading (YA or adult) it was a part of the story here. This is not a clean or happy tale for Darrow or for readers. There is a lot he has to struggle with - from his past, what he wants out of his current situation, how to achieve it, even who he is now, whether he's still a Red or if he's, truly, now a Gold - and not a lot of time to sit back and think about it. With new challenges at every turn and constantly having to strategize, Darrow's on edge and readers will feel the tension.

I never really developed any real connection with Darrow while reading Red Rising. There was worry that he would be found out but more of a curiosity about how everything would come together in the end. Some of the turns were easier to see coming than others - from characters or the story. It was hard to tell if some of the lack of connection was due to not liking him much or if I didn't like him much because I couldn't connect with his character.

Either way, I am hoping I fare better with Book 2 in the trilogy. Though it may not necessarily sound like it, once I got past the beginning bit (which was slow for me), I did quite enjoy this book. With Book 2 I do hope that, with a new location, we'll get some more world building as I found little bit we saw of Mars' surface very intriguing.

Rating: 6/10

thank you to the publisher for my e-galley through NetGalley

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