Take one part Hunger Games, one part Ender’s Game, and mix in some Harry Potter to taste. Take the whole thing and put it on Mars. Voila Red Rising.
Despite the description–or perhaps because of it–I did actually enjoy Red Rising quite a bit. Essentially Red Rising follows the story of Darrow, a Red (slave caste) of Mars who, with the help of the local freedom fighters / terrorist cell is biomodded to be a Gold (ruling caste) instead. That’s the first third or so of the book. After that, we switch to full Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game mode with a game of capture the flag cranked up to 11 taking up the rest of the book.
It’s a bit of an abrupt switch and honestly I think the book may have been slightly better had it just been the latter section. It just felt so strange to go from the death and oppression of the first third to the much more gamelike (although still deadly serious) remainder. On the other hand, I’m not sure how we could have gotten quite the same motivation. For better or for worse, it does work.
Next up, the world building. The idea of segmenting the human race into a dozen or so color based castes, each of which with enough genetic modification to arguably make them truly distinct species feels just as made up as many YA novels of this ilk are (I’m looking at you Divergent), but it’s at least done well. There are enough divisions to be believable and the literal genetic modification and physical differences are a nice touch.
On the other hand, the growth and change of language is just weird. pulseBlade. There are compound words all over the place, with the second always being the one capitalized. I get that it’s to give a feeling to the world, but it managed to pull me out of the story just about each time.
All together, it’s a solid book. I enjoyed it more than any of its peers (YA, like Hunger Games / Divergent) that I’ve read. It’s not my favorite book ever, but it was enjoyable.