Publishing Info: January 28, 2014 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adult, Action/Adventure
Date Completed: December 27, 2017
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Golden Son (Red Rising #2), Morning Star (Red Rising #3), Iron Gold (Red Rising #4)
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 already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks 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.
By the time I got around to writing my review for RED RISING, I’ve already finsihed the entire first trilogy and finished the first installment in the next era with IRON GOLD, so admittedly, I have quite a different view of this book than when I write down my initial thoughts. It actually makes it all the more interesting to see how I’m able to look back at this book in a such a different light, so I’ll try to capture both aspects since I’m able to do so!
RED RISING really wasn’t what I expected at all. First off, it’s not really young adult. It’s a young adult book in the sense that it has a teenage protagonist and involves many things that are prominent themes in YA novels, but the whole series is marketed and was sold as adult, which I had no idea! It’s weird because I don’t find young adult to be young, or limiting, or unable to reach the depth that adult novels have, but there was a sort of different tone that had a more mature feel and made the journey much more of one where the main characters are being pushed into adulthood rather than experiencing the normal coming-of-age transition that many YA novels focus on. This also becomes a lot more noticeable throughout the series, at least for me.
To go along with that feel and concept, the book had a much different flow than I was anticipating. I’m not sure what I really was expecting with this book but I was not anticipating a HUNGER GAMES read-alike, something of which I have never truly found. The book kicks off with Darrow and his life on Mars, setting up the current state of things and once that’s established, it quickly moves to murder school where the teens essentially learn what it is to be an adult in this type of society. I was kind of disappointed with the abrupt switch because I really wasn’t expecting it and it felt like a whole different plot and even a different book. That being said, I did still enjoy everything that happened, but it was quite a different feel! It was super brutal and really had that cut-throat (sometimes literally) feel of the HUNGER GAMES mentality, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away and everything that takes place there sets up the relationships for the entire series, which I loved.
At the end of the book, I wasn’t totally dying to run and pick up the next one. I had mixed feelings on the overall flow and while the writing was deep and beautiful and amazing, the way that it ended just didn’t push me to pick up GOLDEN SON right away (even though I basically did). It was hard to see where life was headed after this and it was set up but still quite fuzzy. I could tell it was going to delve much more into the politics but without knowing what the world was like outside of this academy, it was hard to anticipate exactly what the feel of the next books would be.
This was the first book I’ve read (in print) in a while that I’ve really been able to focus on and enjoy so that did have me excited to continue with the series! The hype was real and while I didn’t seem to love this first one as much as other people had, obviously at this point in time, I know the hype for the series is real! If you’re new to the series, it is definitely worth it, even if you’re not in love with RED RISING; however, if you’re not a fan of the themes, action, or writing of RED RISING, that is the general feel of the whole series so you may want to think how you might feel about future books!
Kept Me Hooked On: Mars?! I loooove books that take place on other planets. I love space and it’s so neat to see how authors create livable atmospheres on other worlds.
Left Me Wanting More: Flow. The book didn’t really flow like I had wanted it to. It felt a little choppy in the beginning but I think it really came together in the end!
This one wasn’t my favorite of the series but it really sets up everything for the series and the characters, action, twists, and adventure are so worth it!