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Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1)
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”
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.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(4.5 / 5) I would call this book a mix between Lord of the Flies and Hunger Games with the revenge aspect of Count of Monte Christo.
The world building is fantastic. It is intricate and took a bit for me to imagine. We start out under Mars surface where Darrow and his fellow Reds mine helium3 which is an energy source. It is a dangerous job. The Reds are the lowest class and some feel they are treated as slaves. However, this is the only life they’ve ever known. Then the book takes a twist from there and the ride is awesome!
It is labeled as YA and Adult. I have to say that the first half felt more adult fantasy/sci fi, then the next half was full of teens so it had more of a YA feel. It almost felt like two different books. Which would be odd but when you know the story line, it makes sense. One complaint I do have was the amount of characters and not being able to keep them straight.
Those last 50 pages were unputdownable and can’t wait to delve into book 2!
Content was very high in this book, language and violence especially. When I say it has a Hunger Games feel, it includes the killing of teens by teens and aggression or mistreatment of teens. There were a lot of joking sexual comments but also rape with no details. I would definitely recommend this for older teens if they’re able to handle the content.
Detailed Content Review
Derogatory terms etc-
Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking
A man is drunk and slurring his words at work.
A man lights a burner (cigarette-type) and smokes it. More light up and “popping out the swill” which is an alcoholic drink.
A man is drunk at a celebration. Many more are also.
A man holds a bottle of alcohol, drunk. He gives some to a young man.
A man and young man smoke.
A man stumbles and wobbles while drunk and carrying wine.
A man was forced to take pills that made him hallucinate.
A man swigs from a flask and passes it to a young man who drinks also.
A group have wine to watch a competition.
A man passes a jug of wine around, a young man drinks.
A group of teens gets drunk.
A young woman held captive has food laced with sedatives.
Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty
*No LGBTQ+ aspects included*
“Old enough to screw, old enough to crew.”
At 16 a boy is married. Marriage age for girls is 14, for boys 16.
“… my drill still digs a dent.” A man says when he says he will take a young wife.
Some women sell themselves for food.
She’s a “ripe thing for piggin’”
A young man walks naked to the communal showers.
A husband slides his hand up the side of his wife’s skirt. She swats him away.
A wife kisses her husband.
A young man and his wife kiss, then they “make love” under the sky. No details.
A young husband and wife kiss.
A young wife sells herself to buy medication for her husband.
“A woman… slinks out of a red lace robe. Suitably naked, she then applies the cream to a place on her body where no woman has ever before gotten a blister.”
A young man shows men and women with price tags labeled.
A certain group of women “They breed them for pleasure, for the curves of their breasts and hips, for the tautness of their stomachs and the plump folds of their lips.”
A young man applies hair removal cream to his “privates.”
A young man sits naked in a chair for a physical test. Others watch him.
A young man sees a young woman dressing.
Three young women come to a young man’s room to “attend to (his) needs” but he sends them away.
After a beating, two young men are stripped naked. In other rooms others are stripped naked and they meet up, still naked, later.
As an insult, one young man says to another, “If your legs are open, then make a chastity belt to protect your soft spot.”
“I think he’s wanking off in the bushes”
Rape is referred to (sometimes vaguely) a few times by a young man but no details are given.
Forced sex is not considered rape if it’s a slave. Even then it is considered against the masters house and not the girl.
“Suck my balls.”
“…he’s telling me about how they took “her” and raped “her” in front of him. Then the slaggers came back a week later to do it some more.”
A young man remembers his first kiss with his young wife.
Two young men have tied up a young woman and left her in just underwear. One strokes her skin. A hand is on the inside of her thigh.
A young man tries to rape a female slave. He punches her and holds her down, choking her until a young woman punches him off.
“Does the pain in your back give you a hard-on like it gives me?” He laughs.
A young man pulls down his pants and urinates on a flag.
“Neither will your prick if you keep sassin’! Ha! Is it as small as you?”
A young man kisses a young woman. “There is a bed. There is time. And there’s a hunger” but it goes no further.
A prisoner is naked. No details.
Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood
A mother hits her son for not crying at his fathers death.
A screen shows a previous terrorist bombing aftermath. Kids are shown “mangled.”
A man and young man fight and punch each other.
A man hits a young man in the gut with an object.
**SPOILER**After being held in a cell for three days, a young man is jerked around by his hair. “Then the lashes come. Forty-eight in all. The lashes bite and wail into my flesh, making a strange keening noise as they arch through the air. Music of terror. I can barely see by the end of it. I pass out twice, and each time I wake I wonder if you can see my spine…” His wife then gets lashed. His blood covers the area. “Hang the rusty b—- lest she continue to howl.”— she is then hanged for singing. “Then her feet scramble at air and she falls. Her slim throat gags. Eyes open so wide. If only I could save her from this.” Her husband kisses her ankle and hugs her legs and pulls to break her neck. He is punished for burying her and is hanged. “I feel the door beneath me open. My body falls. Rope flays my neck. My spine creaks. Needles lance my lumbar.”
A young man punches a young man.
A young man squeezes a woman’s throat. Others hit him so he throws her aside.
A woman has a bomb strapped to her stomach.
A man punches a young man in the face. The young man kicks him in the shin.
A young man wakes to a man punching him multiple times in the gut. He vomits. He is grabbed by his hair, and punched more. He is thrown onto a floor, dragged by his feet, his ribs are probably broken.
** SPOILER** Two young men are told to kill the other. They are left naked to fight it out. They punch, break noses, shatter sternums, bite, one falls dead and bloody. Many others have to kill another also.
A group of teens meet up after a competition, they are each bloody and naked. Two young men help each other with dislocated limbs and fingers. One young man tells of crushing another’s windpipe.
A young man says he killed a young man by breaking his trachea with his fingers.
Two young men use table legs as weapons, they hit young men with them and kick. One kicks someone’s face.
A young man knocks out a young man.
A young man drags a girl by her hair, to his house to make her his slave.
Two young women roll and fight, hitting each other. One gets the other in a headlock and squeezes until she passes out.
Some young men beat a young woman, kick her in the stomach and take her things.
A young man slams his hand into a young man’s jugular. Then hits him with elbow, knee, hand.
A young woman hits another young woman with a large stick on the knee. A young man lassoes a young woman around the neck and jerks her off a horse to take her prisoner. A young man cuts off a young man’s ear for laughing. A young man orders others to beat a girl until her hair is matted with blood. Then he drags her by her hair.
Girls scream in horror. A young man hurts them and treats them poorly.
A group catches a young woman, beat her and send her ear back to her group. A young man tries to get her but comes back bloody, black eye, dislocated shoulder and broken fingers. They hit him with shovels and urinated on him.
A young man lunges at a young woman and grabs her braids, a young man trips her horse and she falls, then holds a knife to his groin.
A young man knocks out two people. A group debates on killing them.
A young man takes a young woman captive, she is unconscious.
A young man has bloody blades as his victim screams and falls off his horse. He attacks more.
Two groups of teens fight with blades and homemade weapons. Many fall off horses, many are cut. A stunpike is used, it is like a taser. A young man squeezes a young man injuring his head and more, the young man gets loose and smashes his “grapes” (groin) multiple times.
A young man killed some young men for raping someone. He “bashed their heads in.”
For rape, mutilation and attempted murder, a young man kills a young man with a sword, stabbing him many times.
Two young men fight with swords, an axe and a taser. One is backhanded and goes flying, his molar is broken. One uses his shield as a weapon.
A young woman falls off her horse and is trampled to death. Someone had cut her saddle.
A man once beat a young girl when she wouldn’t kiss him on the cheek.
A young woman has two fingers missing, burns seal the stumps. Probably from a punishment.
A young woman threatens to cut a young woman’s throat. A young man hears gurgles and a thump when she does it.
A young man stabs a young man in the gut with a sword.
A young woman bit a young man before he tied her up. She’s held captive by two young men. A young man sees and shoots one in the knee, another in the shoulder. He drags both out by their hair and kicks them many times. The young woman says to leave them alive.
A group of teens attack another group using swords, blunted axes and clubs. They maim and bludgeon.
A group of teens with swords attack a group with only arrows and dogs. The dogs are kicked and thrown. One young woman bites a dogs neck and hits his groin until it runs away. One young man uses a large club, many are thrown. He uses one young man as a club.
A young man gets whipped 20 times for attempting to rape a young woman. Then another gets whipped many times also.
A young man cuts a young man’s eye out.
A young woman has scalps hanging from her belt.
A young man previously collapsed a tunnel with people in it, killing many. Some were trapped in caves with only water and it took over a month to dig out. He alludes to cannibalism. He later states, “After months in darkness, you eat whatever your mouth finds. Even if it’s still moving.”
A young man is launched and knocks over guards. They fight with spears, he punches and knees and more. One has a broken nose and is unconscious. A young man breaks a young man’s leg.
A young man breaks a man’s nose and elbows his temple until “he no longer moves.”
***SPOILER***SPOILER***A young man stabs a young man through the hand. He needs to cut his own hand off to get out. So he starts cutting. Tears stream down his face as he saws. Another young man gives him a blade that will cut it in one swipe. A young man stabs a young man in the throat then sets off a sonic blast. A young man launches himself at a young man, but another young man intervenes. The young man stabs the young man in between them multiple times until he dies and blood is covering the other young man. They chase the young man as he runs. A man sets off another sonic blast. He fights with the teen with superior weapons and armor. He holds the young man by his hair and punches him many times. The young man punches him in the eye four times with a blade, killing him.
Young men tie a woman to a bed to incapacitate her. They find another woman in the baths. They tackle her but she breaks a young man’s arm and tries to drown him. They take a man captive. Many try to fight them, they fight back brutally, many die, many are beaten, one young man breaks a few necks. A man fights back, beating some, cutting a finger off another and more. A young man breaks his arm. They tie another man up then a man and woman attack with far superior weapons and decimate their group. The man and young man fight brutally, they cut each other multiple times. The man’s thigh is cut.
Three bodies hang from a cross. Two are still alive and are cut down. A young man tells of having to kill a girl.
A young man uses his own blood in a vow to kill a young man.
A young woman carries a young man who is bound, gagged and naked.
Potentially Intense Themes
A father is hanged. Due to no gravity, it is necessary to pull the feet to break the neck. They make family members do it.
There are snakes that bite and like to burrow into warm places (like stomachs) to lay eggs.
A young man gets too close to heat and his protective suit starts melting. He’s terrified and dizzy.
A young man is hung for stealing. His mother was next.
Many men are hung after fighting for more food.
**SPOILER** A young man’s wife is hanged and he has to pull her legs to break her neck. He later visits her body as it hangs. He cuts her down and carries her to be buried. He kisses her and cries.
**SPOILER** A young man wakes and realizes he’s buried.
A young man dies during an operation and is brought back to life but in a coma for 2 weeks. He undergoes multiple surgeries that last weeks and he is in immense pain.
A young man throws a razor wire and kills a deerling.
Teens are supposed to enslave people for a competition.
A young man claims to have killed a wolf with his hands. He drags it in and his hands are bloody. They kill goats for food and a young man trembles as he has to cut the tough neck as it looks trustingly at him. He also had to guide a young woman’s hands to cut her goat. They kill many animals for food and for the hide.
Many teens hide in the bellies of dead horses and surprise others to take over.
A bear chases a young man.
A young man is caught in a net.
**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.