Friday, July 29, 2016
Seeing Red (Well... Reading It)
Set in the future on the planet Mars, Red Rising depicts a rigidly class-divided society in which the lowborn are made to serve the elite. It follows a young man named Darrow as he tries to rise above his station and potentially lead a revolt against the system. In short, this is The Hunger Games, Silo, Divergent -- or, in other ways, Ender's Game or Lord of the Flies. For a story about revolution, there's little here that's revolutionary.
That said, in the same amount of time it took me to conclude that I'd read "this story" before, I also concluded that Pierce Brown was a bit better at writing it than the versions I'd read (or what I would infer from their movie adaptations). Darrow's origin story is largely interchangeable with Katniss Everdeen or Beatrice Prior, but the character felt like less of a do-gooding, destined-for-greatness cipher to me than the protagonists of most dystopian fiction. Through the occasionally clever turn of phrase, or the slight mixing up of recognizable plot elements, Brown managed to keep me from putting the book down.
I suppose it's because society feels so hopelessly class divided that stories like this keep getting remixed. (Someone more well-read than I could probably go back and track how long the trend has been going, and whether it has intensified of late.) So I credit Pierce Brown for striking a nerve, mining a vein that still has ore in it, or whatever metaphor you'd choose. But the fact remains that all throughout the book, I was alternately "intrigued and involved by his writing," and "exasperated by regurgitated plot elements."
But I did finish the book.
Whether I go on to read the next two, however, remains to be seen. With a "to read" stack that feels a mile high, perhaps not. But if this particular sub-genre is your thing, I'd have to say that this felt like a worthy entry I'd probably recommend. I'd call it a B.... maybe? Let me put it this way: if Pierce Brown isn't a one-hit wonder, if he goes on to publish some other book or series, then I'll probably investigate it. Until then, I'll be seeking greener pastures. (Or is that pages?)