I do not have time to read, but the books just keep getting stuck to my face. UF, HF, YA, fluffy romance, whatever. I love it all.
But I might judge you if you hand out five stars all willy nilly.
Before this book I really believed...
* Dystopian novels worth reading were a flash in the pan that began with The Hunger Games and ended with Divergent.
* Heart-stirring stories need to include a significant romantic thread.
* Books written by men, from a man's POV, are mostly action with not enough heart to keep my interest.
Red Rising made me eat my words.
I don't even want to tell you what it's about, because it's so much better to go in knowing nothing. Have no expectations for the direction the story will go, unless it's to expect an epic adventure. Stop reading reviews (except this one, you can finish reading this one) . All you really need to know is that this is a book that has all the passion of Braveheart, the intensity of Gladiator, the intrigue of The Matrix, and the loyalty and insurrection of Spartacus. If you enjoy watching Survivor for the strategy and the social game, you will be just as glued to Darrow's situation and trying to strategize along with him. I know I was.
Pick up this book when you want to read a book that will grab you from the first page, with zero fluff and filler. A book that clips along briskly and will not bore you. It has flawed characters who grow into heroes throughout the book.It's set on future Mars, which has been terraformed into a beautifully habitable planet unbeknownst to the lowest class of people slaving away in the mines below ground, and I found this fascinating. The author really made me believe that this is possible and I could tell he did his research and thought everything through.
It has unexpected twists and turns, as well as situations in which the characters are faced with truly difficult choices and I learned something from the decisions they make. There were horrifying injustices but also deep friendships and I loved so many side characters just as much as I loved Darrow. The story was told through his eyes, yes, but there were many other strong, likable, detestable, remarkable and memorable characters. This story had heart.
Is there romance? No.
Is there a triangle? Emphatically no.
Is there love? Yes. Emphatically, yes.
"We grew together, and now are grown. In her eyes, I see my heart. In her breath, I hear my soul. She is my land. She is my kin. My love."
"I live for the dream that my children will be born free. That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them."
"I live for you," I say sadly.
She kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."
This is not a YA book. That label is honestly a little insulting. Too often YA is a parent-friendly way of saying "teen romance." Darrow is technically 16, but he is more like a 30-year-old in a 16-year-old's body, already married and hardened by a life as a helldiver in the mines of Mars. Aside from the occasional mention of his age, I forgot all about it.
This book falls outside of genre boundaries. It's a dystopian that people of all ages and genders will appreciate, much like the Hunger Games, but I would say it's even more relatable and relevant than The Hunger Games. It is fiercer, more ruthless, and more cunning. It has moments that are shocking and violent, heartbreaking and painful, but none of it is gratuitous. I didn't feel things were just thrown in to rattle me, and it wasn't overly graphic. The harshest parts of the story were muted and that kept me from getting too bogged down with the weight of it. Pierce Brown didn't hold back or spare his characters grief, but it all felt necessary to the story being told.
This is the easiest five stars that I've given in a long time. This book exceeded my expectations and surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. I didn't think a book without an overt love story could keep my interest, but I was up till all hours of the night finishing this one. As long as you go in expecting a dystopian adventure along the lines of Braveheart and Gladiator, and not a dystopian carried by romance (e.g. Divergent), you will not be disappointed.
Had I not already read and loved this book, and I was seeing all the comparisons to manly-man movies, I might still be on the fence-- so I want to emphasize again that even though this is not a romance, it will speak to your heart. It is a story worth reading. It made me think and had more underlying observations on the human condition than most books I've encountered.
I am so tired of book hype letting me down, and authors starting out strong and then peetering out at the end of the book. Pierce Brown, much like Darrow, has earned my trust and I am confident he knows where this series is going.
"You do not follow me because I am the strongest... You do not follow me because I am the smartest... You follow me because you do not know where you are going. I do."
*all quotes taken from an uncorrected proof and may be subject to change in the final copy.