Thursday 8 January 2015

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I think it is fair to say that this book was one of the hits of 2014  and the sequel Golden Son is probably set to be one in 2015.

I know there have been comparisons made to a fairly recent popular YA book but I disagree with that comparison.

The only thing possibly similar is the Lord of the Flies mentality amongst the young people forced to fight for their lives.

This is so much more and far more complex. It has intrinsic layers of socio-economic status and structures in a dystopian setting. Society and the people within it are structured via colour. The colour you are born into determines your job, life expectancy, amount of food and water you receive and the path you will travel.

Brown has delved deeply into Roman history, their hierarchical pyramids and mixed it with mythology in a dystopian world tinged with the odd Fae element. The author has obviously spent a long time creating each level of society and the impact each colour has upon their own lives and upon other colours.

Darrow is the main character, he is also a Red, the colour responsible for the hard labour. As the story evolves he discovers a betrayal of such an immense size that it is hard to take on board. Everything he believed to be true is turned upside down. Unfortunately that truth is revealed to him after the death of someone he holds close to his heart. In fact she is the one that sets all the events of the book in motion. She becomes the martyr to the cause.

The way Brown chose to have the Reds killed in their work/living environment is one of the most significant and poignant moments in the book. It is very intricately detailed to create maximum emotional effect both in regards to the plot and the reader. Would you kill a loved one to shorten their pain, although it would make you guilty of their death? Such a small subtle detail, and yet so important in the long run, and that is only the first few chapters of the book.

What follows is the integration of one colour into the highest of ranks to seek revenge, to reveal the truth, to initiate change in the world as Darrow knows it. Those goals change during the plot or become secondary to his survival in his new surroundings. I actually think at one point he begins to understand that to change the thought process of old he must become part of the thought process. He must lose part of himself to understand how to be a Gold.

Is that a betrayal of his colour and people or is that just the true nature of the human beast? When it comes to nature of the beast the young competitors are conditioned to be as ruthless as possible, to disregard any inkling of conscience and to survive using any means possible.

The combat, interactions and struggle for power that ensues is an interesting insight into the psyche and personality of the participants. I enjoyed the read and look forward to see where Brown is going to take this tale, on every level.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

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