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.
Genre: YA, sci fi
Published on: January 28, 2014
“Funny thing, watching gods realize they’ve been mortal all along.”
I gotta say… I was so disappointed by this book. I didn’t know a whole lot going into it aside from the fact that it’s a dystopian but so many people absolutely adore this series so I fully expected to find a new favourite. But there were just so many aspects that made it not enjoyable for me.
Starting with the part that I actually enjoyed, the world was really interesting. Even though the whole class system being set up by colour wasn’t the most unique idea, I still loved how the world was developed with recolonizing on Mars and developing a society there were the Reds are essentially the backbone. It was interesting to see the break down of jobs and how the system runs as a whole, I just wish we got more insight into it. Since it wasn’t super touched on, it made the distinctions feel even more superficial. But I’m always a fan of a revolution-esque story with the lower classes rising up so I still enjoyed seeing it from Darrow’s somewhat limited perspective.
The biggest problem for me I think was the writing. This isn’t something that usually completely ruins a book for me but in this case it made it so difficult for me to get through. The sentences felt very choppy and it didn’t feel like creative writing as it did a militaristic account. A solid section of this book takes place during the competition and I ended up skimming through a lot of it because it just recounted how many people were lost or taken as slaves during one of the numerous battles.
“They are coming for me. Or am I coming for them? I do not know. I try to feel like the predator, but I cannot. My rage is calming. It is slowing and giving way to fear as the halls stretch on.”
There was no emotion behind the writing or passion even though that was supposed to be the whole entire premise of the story. And because I couldn’t care about anyone or anything none of the plot twists were all that exciting, it just felt like yet another aspect to the plot that I was going to have to drag myself through to find out what happens in the end. I think so much of his descriptions of the competition could’ve been cut down and replaced with his relationships with other characters or a look onto the society.
But at the same time it felt like the author was trying too hard? So many rather insignificant moments were so melodramatic I just wanted Darrow to get over himself. And yes he is 16 years old but he definitely does not read like one because apparently he is basically a god.
Plot-wise, the whole rebellion aspect felt so superficial? The whole book just felt like a reiteration of “I want to take down the Golds. Rage, rage, Eo”. Maybe it was because of this perspective but it made the politics feel rather tactless as well. I understand Darrow’s drive to bring down the system but there seemed to be nothing behind it but pure rage which I feel just led to a lot of questionable decisions? It’s so hard for me to believe that Darrow manages to go as far as he does solely based on the fact that he’s doing it for Eo.
Also can someone please explain to me the level of technology in this society. Why do they use so many different weapons if they have such advanced versions? What happened to guns? If Darrow got fully transformed to be a Gold why doesn’t it happen to more people? I need more about the world.
And speaking of the characters, I really was not a fan of Darrow. His personality seemed to revolve only around the fact that he’s man which don’t get me wrong, I love a good revenge story but once again, I just couldn’t fully feel his motivation. Also how is he one of the most unrealistic characters I’ve ever read? It’s not just that he’s the chosen one but he’s literally incredibly smart, amazing at fighting, and apparently the only one willing to challenge the authorities. He’s supposed to be this figure that will take down the Golds but the decisions he makes felt so stupid, and at times he literally goes on about how he’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing so then why are you doing it?? And of course in the end everything turns out perfectly.
The side characters I definitely enjoyed a whole lot more, especially the girls. Honestly I loved Mustang so much and even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of how everything played out I just love her potential in the series and if I end up ever reading the other books it’s going to be because of her.
OVERALL: Premise itself was interesting enough but the writing and the main character just fully brought this book down so many stars for me. I don’t know if maybe I’m not reading this at the right age but I still feel like I’ve read enough YA dystopians recently that I’ve enjoyed for that not to be the case.
Have you read Red Rising and what did you think of it? Do you agree with any of my opinions or did you feel completely differently about the book?