Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising.jpg

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies…even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown
Published January 28, 2014 by Del Rey
Format: Hardcover; 382 pages
Science Fiction/Fantasy/Dystopian
Also By This Author: Golden Son, Morning Star, Iron Gold
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

There is SO MUCH packed into this novel that I am not even going to attempt to write out all of my thoughts. Instead, I am going to play a little game (since this book revolves around a game of sorts) called Top 3 Takeaways (I just made that up but I like it so I’ll probably use it for future reviews).

Top 3 Takeaways from Red Rising

  1. Nothing is black or white, everything is grey, and all’s fair (but not necessarily forgivable) in love & war: That’s a mouthful, so let me break it down. Red Rising is about war and revolution. It’s messy. It’s tragic. It’s violent (trigger warning: there are scenes involving rape, murder, torture, and enslavement). But both sides are shown and analyzed and the protagonists and antagonists all have realistically complex motives, making this novel full of grey lines. Sometimes Darrow does some unforgivable things. Sometimes you want his enemies to survive. In no way is this an easy novel to read. As Joey from Friends would say, it’s a “put it in the freezer” kind of book.
  2. Character building is better than world building: It took me a while to get into Red  Rising because the first several chapters are mostly world building, which can be rather boring and overbearing at times. I had to push through until Darrow made some frenemies, and then the novel started to get interesting. Those characters are what really grew and challenged Darrow, and the chapters when he is collaborating and conversing with the Golds are far more enjoyable than the first third of the novel when readers are learning about Mars and the Society and the mine where Darrow is from. If you’ve already read this novel, I will let you know that Chapter 36 is my favorite because of the brilliant way in which Darrow is stretched and empowered as a leader and a revolutionary.
  3. A book can be good or enjoyable without being original: The best way to succinctly describe Red Rising is by calling it a cross between three other dystopian science fiction novels: The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Ender’s Game. During a few moments in this book I honestly felt I was reading about The Capitol of Panem, and The Institute that Darrow “studies” at is just a high school, co-ed version of Lord of the Flies with much more violence and savagery. Darrow is also very similar to Ender Wiggin, an outsider prodigy who doesn’t play by the rules. I found both characters to be slightly untrustworthy at times, unlike Katniss Everdeen who is steadfast, moral, and a character I could trust with my life.

Overall, this book produced good and bad reactions out of me, but I think its praise is deserved, even if the dystopian Society is reminiscent of other novels. Red Rising will still keep you up until all hours of the morning with cliffhanging chapters and unpredictable characters.

You May Also Enjoy

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (for the dystopian society)
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (for the psychology behind war & survival)
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (for the sci-fi and war games)

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

One pitch-black London morning, a ghoulish little man tramples a young girl and continues heedlessly on his way. Caught by a passerby and returned to the scene of the crime, the man is forced to pay £100 in restitution. He produces ten pounds in gold and a check for the remainder. Curiously, the check bears the signature of the well-regarded Dr. Henry Jekyll. Even stranger, Dr. Jekyll’s will names this same awful and mysterious little man, Mr. Hyde, as the sole beneficiary. Troubled by the coincidence, Dr. Jekyll’s attorney visits his client. What he uncovers is a tale so strange and terrifying it has seeped into the very fabric of our consciousness.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published January 5, 1886 by Longmans, Green & Co.
Format: e-book/audiobook; 64 pages/3 hours 3 minutes
Classics/Science Fiction
Also By This Author: Treasure IslandKidnapped
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I was really looking forward to reading this spooky gothic classic by Robert Louis Stevenson, especially during the Halloween season. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. While the novel’s plot and characters were intriguing, I found the writing style incredibly boring. It took me at least two weeks to finish a three hour audiobook, mainly because I kept zoning out and losing interest as the story went on.

Everyone knows the basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: a curious scientist drinks a potion that turns him into a murderous lunatic, and overtime Dr. Jekyll becomes consumed by this psychotic half of his split-personality. It’s a fascinating plot for a story, which is why Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains so popular over a century later. While I did enjoy the beginning and the end of this novel, I felt that the middle dragged on without very many exciting things happening, aside from some very lengthy passages of dialogue that could have used a sentence or two of description.

I would recommend this book to fans of gothic lit and classic sci-fi (namely H.G. Wells’s novels), but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend an audiobook version unless the narrator is extremely entertaining. I believe the version I listened to was from Librivox.

You May Also Enjoy:

img_1269FrankensteinThe Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Soulprint by Megan Miranda

soulprint

Most people agree it’s better not to find out who you once were. And if you do find out, it’s best to keep that knowledge to yourself. Because while the soul has no memory, the world does, and that is usually enough.

Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Published Feb 3, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Young Adult/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Format: e-book from Netgalley; 368 pages
Also By This Author: Fracture, Hysteria
                                                            Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

                                                            My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Synopsis:

With the science of soul-fingerprinting a reality, Alina Chase has spent her entire life imprisoned for the crimes her past-self committed. In an attempt to clear her name, Alina unintentionally trades one prison for another when she escapes, aided by a group of teens whose intentions and motivations are a mystery to her. As she gets to know one of the boys, sparks fly, and Alina believes she may finally be able to trust someone. But when she uncovers clues left behind from her past life that only she can decipher, secrets begin to unravel. Alina must figure out whether she’s more than the soul she inherited, or if she’s fated to repeat the past.

Thoughts:

Alina is a 17 year-old girl who is being “contained” on a guarded island for her own protection (or for punishment). Why is she being contained? Because in a past-life, Alina’s soul belonged to a fugitive named June Callahan. The science behind “soulprinting” is that when a person dies, their soul is essentially reincarnated into a newborn, who grows up to lead his or her own life but studies showed that they would exhibit similar tendencies. Throughout the course of the novel, Alina is trying desperately to prove to the world that she is not June, but unfortunately for her, the more she tries to break away from June, the more she starts to understand and sympathize with her.

Soulprint is one of those stories that stays inside your brain for a few days after you finish reading it, and I think that’s because the world that Megan Miranda creates is not far-fetched. The idea behind categorizing people has been around for ages; sometimes it’s used to protect others (for example, identifying people as sex offenders and making that database public), but it has also been used to control and annihilate people (in the case of the Holocaust). In Soulprint, people are defined by who their soul belonged to in a past life. Officially, this is meant to be private knowledge. Only an individual can find out who they used to be. But since this is a dystopian novel, you already know that there is something much bigger going on here. In the novel, June Callahan became a fugitive after she publicly called out people for being criminals in their past lives. And at the start of the novel, Alina Chase is paying the consequences…but are they hers–or June’s–to pay?

Read This Book If…

…you’re intrigued by sci-fi/fantasy stories, especially if they deal with ethical issues.
…you’re a fan of dystopian themes in literature.
…you’ve ever been curious about genetic memories or other similar sci-fi motifs.
…you’re looking for a book that fits into multiple genres like science fiction, fantasy, young adult, suspense, and romance.

“Yes, I wanted out,” I say, my voice firm and practiced. “I always wanted out. Because I was being held, inhumanely and unconstitutionally.” The speech I’d come up with last year pours out of me. “Because my soul is my own, and the world is punishing me for something that no longer exists. The world is the only one with a memory. Not my soul. June is dead. I am the only one here. I am Alina Chase.”

Final Musings:

Soulprint captivates you from the very first page. There is a constant suspense looming that something huge is about to happen, and the characters have solid motivations that anyone can identify with: greed, love, guilt, innocence. I found myself having a hard time putting this book down, and for anyone who enjoys intriguing sci-fi/fantasy novels, I would recommend Soulprint to you in a heartbeat!

My soul was not meant to be in a cage. Not then, and not now.