Friday, December 19, 2014

Red Rising Ascends As A Sci-Fi Thriller

Every civilization experiences four periods within its life cycle — rebellion, ascension, decadence, and decline. The Golds, the genetically enhanced and augmented society that dominates a future caste system civilization, have enjoyed several generations of ascension and decadence after shrugging off Earth's dominion and then conquering it. The worlds they have made afford them every luxury.

To stave off decline, they have also created an academy that accepts the only the finest of their children with the intent to prime them as future sovereigns. With little explanation or instruction, the teens are taken to an expansive countryside where they are divided into feudal houses. There, they will establish their own criteria for leadership within their house and work to conquer all other houses. 

The stakes are impossibly high. Those who thrive during these barbaric and often brutal trials will be given the most coveted positions within their government. Those who do not risk being shunned, mutilated, or even killed. That latter point is made on the first day, when half of the students are purged.

Red Rising is an immersive debut destined to become a classic. 

The oppressive society created by author Pierce Brown provides the perfect backdrop for a story that is even more compelling. What sets the novel soaring is that it doesn't follow just any Gold teen through the trials and tribulations of the so-called academy. Instead, it follows Darrow, a tragic protagonist from the lowest caste — tribes of miners who work far below the surface of Mars under the mistaken belief that they are planetary pioneers toiling away for the good of mankind. 

What they don't know that is that the Golds have long since terraformed and populated not only Mars, but also virtually all life-sustaining planets and moons in the solar system. In fact, it is the material that Darrow's people mine that has helped fuel the outward expansion of the civilization that had long declared democracy and equality among the greatest lies ever invented. 

Shortly after Darrow suffers a devastating personal loss, he is thrust into the hands of a secretive underground insurgency backed by high Reds — people who belong to the same caste as Darrow but serve the Golds above ground. Hand picked for his uncharacteristic tenacity, he is then biologically retooled and mentally trained to blend in as the Golds he has come to loathe. Once inside their ranks, his mission is to become a manmade Messiah capable of toppling the oldest and most powerful civilization in human history. 

The task is easier said than done as Darrow discovers that he not only needs to stand out to earn an influential position after the academy, but also survive a cruel and unforgiving test that resurrects the feudal system. Not only will his physical prowess and mental acuity be tested, but also his faith in himself and loyalty to his own cause as he struggles under the pressure of duality.

A couple graphs about author Pierce Brown. 

Like many would-be writers, Pierce Brown found himself taking on any number of jobs that were one off from what he really wanted to do. This included working as a social media manager at a startup tech company, toiling on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, doing time as an NBC page, and giving up sleep as an aide on a U.S. Senate campaign.

All the while, Brown also invested most of his free time writing a science fiction fantasy that seamlessly blended his fascination with building forts (and setting traps) as a youth and his insights into the oddities of the political system that only paid campaigners are exposed to. The self-described science fiction nerd is now in a position to become a science fiction super star for a story that creeps up on you for its storytelling.

Red Rising By Pierce Brown Captures 8.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Although sometimes criticized for its violence, the novel successfully straddles the young adult/adult science fiction market with a protagonist who is a teen but rarely seems like one (beyond his bravado). Never mind that the story sometimes gets bogged down in self-analysis or that the writing isn't always all that crisp — it's the well-drawn characters, page-turner story, and willingness to sacrifice characters who become fan favorites that will eventually hook most science fiction or fantasy fans.

You can find Red Rising: Book I of the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown on Amazon. Red Rising can also be found on Barnes & Noble or downloaded from iBooks. The audiobook is narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, giving Darrow a Scottish accent. Best of all, there is no wait for the second installment. It's slated for January.