“I am something different. I freed the enslaved and let the broken mend themselves. I gave them something you older generations can’t understand.”
He chuckles, irritating me. “That is the problem with youth, Darrow. You forget that every generation has thought the same.”
“But for my generation it is true.” No matter his confidence, I am right. He is wrong. I am the spark that will set the worlds afire. I am the hammer that cracks the chains.
Red Rising has been recommended to me by everyone, everywhere (all at once) for so long that I must be the last sci fi lover on the planet to have read it. But in case I'm not, here's a review to convince you why you should drop everything and read it right now.
The primary reason I'd put it off is that it's written in present tense, first person perspective—a one-two combo that usually knocks me off a book faster than Muhammad Ali on five cups of coffee and an energy drink chaser. So it wasn't until I went on a long-overdue roadtrip with my youngest brother, who had the audiobook version cued and ready, that I finally gave it a chance.
Reynolds (narrator) did a marvelous job bringing the story to life. His light Irish accent didn't affect my American (in)ability to understand my own language at all, and his rendition of the characters felt spot-on. In fact, his marvelous performance made me completely forget about the tense and perspective until several chapters in, at which point I was too invested to care. Thank you, Mr. Reynolds!
The book follows Darrow, a veritable slave working with the rest of the low Reds in the pits of Mars, sacrificing themselves so humanity might one day reap the benefits of their labor, whereupon Reds would be exalted as heroes of their species.
Riiiiiight. As you can guess, not everything is as the Golds (highest of society) have promised. Darrow, already married at the tender age of 16 and hardened by the harsh work environment, gets a near-fatal dose of reality of what the Golds are really up to, setting him and his quick temper down a ruthless path of vengeance filled with twists, surprises, and self-learning at every step. Brown does all this amidst incredible world building in bleak, distant future where humanity had to leave their exhausted native home and spread across the solar system.
The cast of characters is vast and varied. Fortunately, Brown does a good job of segmenting them so I had little trouble following who was who in a given setting. Better, he sets up constant conflict not only between the protagonist and his supposed allies, but between the allies themselves, and everyone in between. Games within plots within games kept me guessing and rooting the entire time.
Red Rising has a little something for everyone. Action fans won't be disappointed. Those who enjoy politics will have their dose. Adventure and fantasy fans will be pleasantly surprised. Sci fi fans will, of course, have a field day. It even had enough romance to feel genuine without going over the top. The end, too, felt satisfying and whole, while still leaving plenty of room for Book 2, which I will be starting shortly.
So... yeah, if you've been holding out for whatever reason, give it a try. I quickly became a fan. Maybe you will, too.