"Red Rising" by Pierce Brown is like the adult version of "The Hunger Games" all grown up, wiser, and more mature. I definitely saw elements of "The Hunger Games" in this book, but this book is also unique and stands on its own two feet, it is just so much more then that vague resemblance. I did have a difficult time getting into this book, but towards the middle of the book I was completely sold on it and I couldn't pull my nose out of it. It was almost like the two halves were written by different authors, and I hope that we get more of the better half in the second book of this series "Golden Son", although I also feel that if I were to go back and reread the book it wouldn't be the same as it was the first time around, finding it to be smoother now that I understand the world better, and wouldn't be stumbling over characters, races, or the unique vocabulary that exist throughout this book. All in all I found the characters to be strong and well developed.
In this book the different races are distinguished by hair and eye color. Red's being at the bottom of the pecking order, Gold's being at the top, many other colors between these two, all colors having a field of work that they are destined and trained for. The Red's were told that they were going to be the first to colonize Mars and make it habitable, this being necessary because they were told that Earth was a dying planet. Darrow is our main character here, a young Red of the age of sixteen. Red's are considered adults at this age and so Darrow is married to his equally young bride, Eo. Darrow is the Helldriver, operator of a massive piece of machinery being used to drill deep within the sulfurous bowels of the planet to harvest Helium3 so that one day the surface above will be habitable and the other races can join them there. The Red's have slaved away underground for many generations in the attempt to make this happen, never having been up on the surface. When someone rebels and starts to question this way of life the Gold's sentence them to be hung. When Darrow's young wife Eo rebels, she is put to death. Darrow uncovers the truth and learns that not only is Mars surface habitable, but has been for a very long time. A vast city exists up there, a city that they are not a part of, and never will be a part of. They have been lied to. Darrow joins those who wish to see the Gold's fall and restore equality to the races. He under goes a transformation physically, emotionally, and mentally in order to join their ranks. A right of passage to adulthood, a passage that will determine your ranking in the future, is his first mission. It is harsh, it is corrupt, and it is no more then a game and a source of amusement to the superiors. He needs to win in order to get closer to the heart of the Gold's dictatorship. He will destroy them from within. First he must win the game.