Red Rising started off great and had a very exciting premise. The main character, Darrow, works under the surface of Mars, helping to terraform the planet for future colonization. In this world, castes are differentiated by color. Darrow is a Red, the lowest rung of society, while Gold is the highest. Darrow, and the rest of the Reds, think that Mars is uninhabited, when in fact it had already been colonized and they are initially slaves mining helium for the upper classes. Darrow’s wife, Eo, suspects that something isn’t right and pushes Darrow to take action, which eventually results in her death. Darrow is eventually smuggled out of the mines and transformed into a Gold so he can infiltrate their society and eventually lead a revolution of Reds. After his transformation, Darrow get’s excepted into the institute of elite Golds and the rest of the book delves into his experiences there.
I was very confused on what type of book Brown was trying to write here. The plot was a whole mash up of genres and other novels that made no sense being put together. For starters, I was expecting a totally awesome sci-fi, filled book (I mean, it takes place on Mars!), but after the first few chapters, there was absolutely no science fiction to speak of. In fact, the setting and characters seemed to go back in time to something resembling ancient Rome. The Golds are physically perfect, and Brown often hints that they resemble something like ancient gods. Every Gold carries the name of a god or goddess. I understand the theme, since Mars, Jupiter, Venus were all named after Roman gods, but it was a little much.
The second thing that really confused me happens after Darrow is accepted into the Gold’s institute. Basically, all the students are dropped off in the wilderness as a ‘test’ to see who will survive and as a chance to weed out the weaklings( cough, cough…Hunger Games?) But what weaklings? These are Golds here. Physically and mentally superior to all other classes. Bred to rule. Why would the leaders be trying to kill them? The rest of the books delves into how the students form their own societies, kill each other off, starve to death, rape each other…and other grisly acts that are in complete conflict with the beginning of the book. The Golds hate the other colors, not each other. I felt like I had time traveled back to high school and was re-reading Lord of the Flies all over again. IT MADE NO SENSE!
While Red Rising wasn’t a bad read, I felt like it carried no identity of its own. There were too many similarities to other books and there was no consistency in what the author was trying to accomplish. I probably won’t read the rest of this series because I was so frustrated with the Red Rising.