Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste of society and fated to spend his life underground. Darrow believes his work will help make Mars habitable for future generations and higher colors; however, eh soon learns that his entire life has been a lie. Mars is not only terraformed, it is a lush world of sprawling cities ruled over by the elite Golds. Angered by the lies and injustice, Darrow agrees to help the rebel Sons of Ares by infiltrating the society of the Golds.
Red Rising does lose some points for originality; many elements are instantly reminiscent of other popular stories. There’s a definite Hunger Games vibe in that the poor laborers are oppressed by the rich elites. The institute is a battleground where teenagers are made to battle each other. People are born into defined castes created through breeding and genetic engineering, a la Brave New World. There’s even a system of school houses with a sorting ceremony, although unlike Harry Potter, this sorting is thoroughly unpleasant.
It’s to author Pierce Brown’s credit that the story is able to be much more than just “Hungry Potter.” The world of Red Rising is very well developed and uses the genre tropes on very creative ways. Nothing is black and white here, and the revenge element definitely keeps the story interesting.
Things pick up considerably once Darrow leaves the underground mining colony, and the reader is given a glimpse of Darrow’s futuristic world. Red Rising is a really good read, even if it isn’t the most unique story out there, and the ending certainly left me wanting more.