Red RisingRed Rising
Year: 2014
Author: Pierce Brown
Length: 400 pages

It is difficult to review a book like Red Rising without noting the heavy comparisons to The Hunger Games. Perhaps this speaks to the strength of The Hunger Games’ format, but there are almost too many parallels to ignore. Dystopian class-separated society? Check. A skilled lower-class individual who defies the odds? Check. Violence and a romantic subplot? Check and check. About the only difference between the two is that Red Rising takes place on Mars and over a few years instead of a week or so. Of course, it’s hard to tell the timespan since important details always seem to be missing from the first-person narrative.

If anything, I’d peg Red Rising as the gritty, over-violent, and over-sexualized version of The Hunger Games. If The Hunger Games appeals to girls and women, Red Rising should appeal to boys and men. A lot of the content in this book felt a bit over the top and unnecessary to the plot. Granted, the action was pretty well written, and at least a few of the characters seemed to have their distinct personality. I didn’t care for the more “aware” portions of the prose, as they seemed out of place in a “look how flowery I can write this simple scene” sense.

Another split from The Hunger Games comes in the form of the main character. While Katniss subjected herself to the brutality selflessly and sacrificially, Darrow was solely focused on a simple-minded goal: vengeance. Consequently, while I could understand Darrow’s motivation, it failed to have many nuances. It ended up being so repetitive that I rolled my eyes every time he brought up his past. Still, there were a few good twists and some great character development through this volume. There’s enough of setup at the end of this book that I’m curious where Golden Son takes the story.

A male-oriented knock-off of The Hunger Games, I give Red Rising 3.5 stars out of 5.

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