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Red Rising
by Pierce Brown
Del Rey, $25.00, 382 pp
Published: July 2014

In the tradition of Ender’s Game and Hunger Games, comes another contender:  Darrow of the Reds.  This is the first in a new series.  In this universe, mankind has left Earth and spread throughout the solar system.  Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste in his society.  Reds labor in the mines doing the most dangerous of work, for the betterment of the whole human race.  Darrow lives in the mines of Mars with dreams of the day the surface is claimed for his children; but he and his fellow Reds have been lied to – for generations.  The surface is covered with cities and parks for the pleasure of everyone but the Reds; who are deliberately being kept in slavery.  Everything changes when Darrow’s wife, Eo, is killed for her rebellion.  Darrow is left for dead, as well, but rescued by an underground movement.  The Sons of Ares know the truth and are looking for ways to overthrow the tyranny of the Golds, the highest caste.  The different castes have been deliberately bred for particular traits for generations.  Golds are the epitome of human intelligence combined with great strength and beauty – the leaders.  Darrow is offered a choice of becoming a Gold and infiltrating their training academy where the next generation of Gold Rulers is chosen.  After extensive surgery and training, Darrow enters a world he never knew existed with rules and traditions that are unlike anything he’s experienced.  The training academy is nothing he is prepared for but he finds that his experience as a Red in the mines gives him distinct advantages; so long as no one guesses that he is anything but a Gold.  To his surprise, he finds beauty, friendship and honor in the people he has despised his whole life.  He also finds the most callous, brutal and self-serving people in existence.  But to achieve his vengeance, he has to do more than survive; he has to win, and win big.

This is a first person narrative and it is done very well.  The author does a superlative job in personalizing the characters and placing the reader directly in the action.  The plot is simple and the majority of the book is one long protracted battle and survival-in-the-wild story.  There is some nice conflict between characters and some mystery to keep the reader engaged.  I did enjoy the story and am looking forward to the sequel.  Click here for the review of the sequel, Golden Son. ~~ Catherine Book

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