Gather ’round children for the hunger games, Gingers vs. Nazis edition! Now includes rape!
This is the spoiler free review (I think, at least I’ve aimed for no spoilers), I will also be writing a much longer spoiler full review for those of you who want to do a deep dive into all the ways this book never should have hit the best seller list, find it here.
Red Rising is the first in Pierce Brown’s series that seems to be written as what if the hunger games had a good ol’ fashioned male protagonist and catered to a boy’s club instead. It is about a future world in which humans are divided by class, distinguished by color scheme, and the lowly Reds, distinguished by being ginger, are the lowest of them all. They are slave laborers but they don’t even know it. In comes a bright young girl to say hey! let’s rise up for some of them human rights and then through a series of events her husband becomes the chosen one instead. Darrow is our Jesus figure throughout the book cause you can’t spell lazy writing without Jesus. He shall become the savior for the Reds by… going to school with the top class, the golds. Doesn’t sound interesting until the author repeatedly crams it down your throat that this school is full of murder and rape. And that’s somehow a good thing. Kids gotta learn right?
The bulk of the book is very predictable as the writing is lazy and unimaginative. That is until the end when we are treated to about 10 surprise twists in 20 pages, all of which are either not actually surprising or just confusing and shoe horned in, but they’re all treated as enormous reveals. Additionally, this book is supposed to be sci fi but the sci part is wildly inconsistent. A huge plot point at the beginning of the book relies on the gravity of Mars being weak but the gravity throughout the rest of the book only pops up as an issue when it is convenient and is generally inconsistent and unexplained. The world building is also lacking to say the least. At one point the author describes a bazaar that smells like automobile exhaust. You’re telling me that hundreds of years in the future, on Mars because humans ruined Earth, that we’re still using gasoline engines and wheeled automobiles on a low gravity planet? No we’re not, that’s dumb, you’re dumb and you should feel bad.
The book has a very hard time grounding itself in the future. It constantly refers to the Roman Empire and various ancient philosophers and leaders as what should be emulated. In thousands of years humans still haven’t topped the Romans? Really? Brown can’t write. Period. He has his own series and he can make up any history for it that he wants. Something better than the Romans but he doesn’t. He can’t even think of anything more interesting from more recent history to refer to. I guess that would require thought that he is just not willing to put into this formulaic garbage pile.
Since everyone here in this Red Rising future is stuck so far back in the past that they think Alexander the Great is who they want to be like the book has some very old fashioned views on women. By that I mean this is the most sexist book I’ve read all year. The language of the book is couched in deeply ingrained sexism. Every time something or someone is described as weak they are compared to being like a woman. The female characters in this book are fridged, damseled, and yes raped. The children/very young adults in this book are described as being brought to a feral state which apparently assumes that the default setting for human females is to be weak and helpless and the default setting for human males is to uncontrollably stick their dicks in unconscious or bound girls. That’s insulting to everyone. And you must keep in mind that this is a YA book and our protagonist starts his journey at age 16 (married to a 14 year old child bride).
This book just sucks, in all the ways a book can suck. To read my even longer and angrier spoiler full review go here. I’ll discuss more of the details about the actual plot and get into how the Pinks are one of the most vile creations I could think of. This author is disgusting.
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