The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.
I don’t really have a reason for putting off reading this for like 2 years, but you know what, worth it.
This book surprised me with its educated and deep dive into politics in a way that built its own world system, but also makes you reflect on current and previous political oppression. It points out several things that humanity has done to itself for millenia, and unfortunately continues to do in certain ways. For a book that has a target audience of young adult readers I thought these topics were addressed and explained really well for younger audiences to understand, and hopefully become impassioned by.
The beginning of the story is pretty sad which unfortunately wasn’t very effective for me because I didn’t know or care about the characters yet. But I recognise that it is meant to show the main character’s motivation for attempting to bring down the hierarchical society and creating a sympathetic character etc. However, after he is turned into a gold the story gets super interesting! I know this isn’t marketed as Young Adult fiction, but I will admit this felt very much like a YA, with typical YA tropes throughout.
Along with the political aspects of the story, the game played by the gold characters forces their assigned groups to each create a society from nothing and face/survive the challenges that come with that – like what will they eat, will they work together, who is in charge, what is their justice system, how will they win the game? The other complication to these mini new societies is that the other groups of beginner societies (who are all doing better than you) are trying to turn you into slaves.
I didn’t really connect to the characters until closer to the end of the story and I’m still not sure why that is. Admittedly Darrow isn’t my favourite character either and I found myself searching for more likeable characters around him. Thankfully, I found that in a little goblin and now I would die for Sevro and his weird little brain. It is extremely possible that I was positioned not to really like anyone because of their gold status and self-righteousness that comes with that. Even so, I hope to see more of the characters in the following books to see how my opinion changes on them and if they will start to realise their society is broken and cruel.
RATING – 3/5 stars
Author – Pierce Brown
Publisher – Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN – 978 1 444 75899 3
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