It isn't often that you read a book that makes you think about life in a slightly different way. When you do find a story that grasps your imagination, swallows you whole for a few days and dances in your thoughts for a few more weeks, you can rest assured that the author has done his job.
A few months ago, when I met Pierce Brown at a social gathering, he told me a bit about his debut novel. With a low-key humility, Pierce described Red Rising as a story that takes place during a time when all of the planets are inhabited and run by a social hierarchy that the main character is fighting against. Very ambitious! I couldn't help but wonder, how would a young author pull off such a huge concept in one book?
Despite the fact that my preference for literature typically falls into the self-help and business genres with a light sprinkling of the classics, my interest in Red Rising was piqued.
Our paths crossed again a few months later and I was delighted when Pierce offered to send an advance copy. Great! I could have a sneak peek at this book that has stirred quite the buzz online and off. I love to discover greatness before anyone else. Who doesn't? As it turned out, my daughter, Maya (who has been engrossed in dystopian literature ever since Harry Potter) embraced this as our chance to discover a book in this genre together.
We decided to write a review of Red Rising from the perspective of a 40-year-old mother and a 14-year-old daughter who don't always see eye to eye in matters of literature, entertainment, fashion, and a handful of other things in life. Will we be of the same mind when it comes to Red Rising?
Maya Michaelian, 14
I have read all types of dystopian literature. I love this genre because it gives you an idea of what life might be like in an imagined place with different political and social beliefs. Red Rising is a real page-turner, a story that transports you into another world and gives you another perspective of life. However, there is something that sets this story apart from other books of the same genre.
What I found interesting about Red Rising was that there were parts of the book that reminded me of Percy Jackson, parts that were similar to Divergent and others that reminded me of The Hunger Games, but every storyline in Red Rising feels like a true original, interesting and exciting.
From Darrow, Eo and Dancer to Mustang, Servo and the Jackal, each character had a pronounced strength and a debilitating weakness that forced them to grow. My favorite character was Roque, the poet, because he was loyal, wise and used his mind to challenge others. I like those qualities in a person.
The book is very carefully crafted with an extensive use of vocabulary and descriptive language. Once the story starts going and you reach the action, you can't put the book down. You begin to understand and grow attached to the characters and their lives. When you hit the climax, you are deeply invested as the goals of the story become your own.
By the end of the book I found myself attached to the well-being and survival of Darrow and the other characters and looking forward to the second book of the trilogy. I really didn't want Red Rising to end.
Britt Michaelian, 40
The last time I read a book that captured my attention in a way that made me want to tell every person I knew about it was Memoirs of a Geisha. I read that book in four days and plowed through Red Rising in three. What I love about both of these stories is the complete personal transformation of the main character throughout the story.
Red Rising is written from the perspective of Darrow, a 16-year-old boy forced to accept the Society his people suffer for is taking advantage of their lives. In the beginning, we find Darrow underground, amidst the daily routine where he lives, works and loves. After a tragic loss, he is called to step up to a war that he did not choose and he has no choice but to win.
While reading the first 30 pages of Red Rising, I found the book to be beautifully written, but the language and imagery of this new world made me stop and think every few sentences. As soon as I got into the flow of the lingo, I didn't want to put the book down and found myself turning the last page with a feeling of sadness that the incredible journey was over (for now).
Red Rising is overflowing with thought provoking messages of strength, courage, love, patience and perseverance (just the kind of thing a mother wants her child to be exposed to). While my favorite character was Eo, a dedicated and fearless woman, I was happy to hear that Maya loved Roque (wisdom and loyalty are treasured in our house).
The morals and values that are explored through the characters in Red Rising have the potential to inspire a generation of readers to think intelligently about the impact of their decisions on themselves, their family and friends and on their world as a whole. This book is truly a powerful lesson in leadership.
Pierce Brown has done an astounding job at delivering a powerful piece of literature that will definitely make a mark in the minds of readers. Maya and I are grateful that we decided to take this journey together. As mother and daughter, we may have our challenges, but we had a great ride with Red Rising. We highly recommend that you do too.