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Book review: 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown, dubbed the new 'Hunger Games'

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Dystopian hierarchical societies. This topic has arguably become as popular in novels as vampires. Many people debate whether or not this subject has been overdone – is it possible to produce something new in this realm? Perhaps, one might counter, if the book is good enough – well-written, entertaining, meaningful – it doesn't matter if it's "new."

Debut author Pierce Brown's novel "Red Rising" is good enough to bypass criticisms regarding the "newness" of his topic. That his novel is being likened to "The Hunger Games," "Ender’s Game," and the "Harry Potter" series should not be taken to mean that his story is unoriginal – instead, it should be regarded as a statement that asserts the universality of his novel. Although it technically falls in the sci-fi and fantasy genre, this story will not be bounded by this narrow categorization.

At the center of "Red Rising" is the sometimes-cocky but always-relatable Darrow, born in the mines of Mars, believing he is a pioneer sacrificing for the greater human good. He soon discovers he has been deceived since birth – his whole family, his whole tribe of Reds (a low color in this caste-based society), has been lied to – the pioneering days have long since passed, luxurious cities teeming with the high colors have been built upon Mars's surface, and he is little more than a slave. Following the death of his wife, Darrow becomes the leading force of the rebellion against the ruling Gold class. He infiltrates the Gold society and their elite school, which turns out to be little more than a giant game of power, a dangerous and thrilling game that Darrow must win in order to rise among the Golds. Fueled by his rage and desire for vengeance, he must achieve a high-ranking position in enemy society in order to overthrow them in the end. The situation becomes more complicated as Darrow forms relationships with his fellow students, his enemies.

From the depths of Mars's mines to the mountains on the surface, Darrow's life is never dull. The first in a trilogy, "Red Rising" is a raw, racing tale of power, of justice, and ultimately, of love.


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