I had almost given up on future dystopian fiction. Everything after THE HUNGER GAMES has fallen flat for me, and I scrolled past all the books on Amazon labeled as such. Meh, I said. I'm not interested. But when I was researching covers for The Nogiku Series, I kept seeing this cover for RED RISING near the top of the list. I liked the cover a lot (I gave it to my cover designer as inspiration), but I never even looked at the blurb. Can you believe that? NEVER EVEN LOOKED AT IT.
Then, I was visiting one of my favorite blogs, Paper Fury, and Cait there mentioned that this is one of her all-time favorite series. Huh. Cait has good taste, and I had seen the cover enough times to be interested. Not long after, I received a Bookbub email that RED RISING was on sale for $1.99, so, still never having looked at the blurb, I picked it up. $1.99? Why not?
So I was on vacation this past week in Japan, and I finished a novella I really enjoyed (more on that and my trip later). I picked up my Kindle and started searching for a new book to read. I picked a space opera book that had good reviews and couldn't get past the opening chapter dream sequence. Nope. Not for me. I picked up another book by someone I know, and for some reason, I couldn't get into the prose. It wasn't personal enough (third person POV is hard for me). So I went back to my Kindle library and saw RED RISING. Sure, I thought. I'll give it a shot. Cait has good taste.
I knew nothing going into this book and, boy, was I glad I didn't, so I'm not going to go into details here. But I was entranced by the opening chapter.
The first thing you should know about me is I am my father's son. And when they came for him, I did as he asked. I did not cry. Not when the Society televised the arrest. Not when the Golds tried him. Not when the Grays hanged him. Mother hit me for that…
On Mars there is not much gravity. So you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.
“They let the loved ones do it.” That is literally the end of the second paragraph of the first chapter, and from there this book sucked me in so hard, I dreamt of Darrow and his color-coded Society, of the trials and tribulations he would go through, his lost love. This book had so many things I'd seen done before, done better, done the best. A loved martyr. A game of murder and deceit. A revenge story so intense, you're both horrified and awed.
I never saw anything coming. I was surprised at every turn. And I've read enough books about warfare and war games to see plot twists coming a mile away. But man, no, I was surprised by so much of this book.
But most of all, I loved the writing. It was so simple. So easy. Brown tends to shy away from using contractions (something I really loathe in most writing), but it works. Sometimes he could just sum up an entire feeling with a three word sentence. Really powerful.
I don't understand why this book is shelved in Young Adult, though. It really did not feel young adult to me at all, besides Darrow, the main character, being young. He's married and lives an adult life to start, and nothing about the book is really “coming of age.” Anyway, if you think YA isn't for you, then don't even take that into account here, because I didn't see it.
A lot of people in the reviews of RED RISING do compare this to THE HUNGER GAMES but I see many vast differences, especially in the motivations of the main characters and the world in which they inhabit, so that's something to consider. With over 3000 reviews on Amazon and still over 4.5 stars, there is a reason why this book is doing so well. I finished it quickly and immediately bought the second one.
I highly recommend RED RISING to you all. You know I don't usually gush over books, and mostly just keep my recommendations to my once monthly Book Chat posts, but I had to let you know about this one.
For those who loved THE HUNGER GAMES and ENDER'S GAME. If you can't stomach violence, this is definitely NOT for you. If you want to read something that'll captivate you, pick it up today.
Purchase RED RISING on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bUkAyH