Red Rising has been recommended to me by several different people, and I’ve seen a lot of praise online. Some of that praise is accompanied by comparisons to The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game, but that’s not really what attracts me to this book. I never read The Hunger Games (though I did enjoy the movies), and while I did enjoy Ender’s Game, it’s the setting and themes that make Red Rising appealing to me.

Colonizing Mars is a big topic of conversation in our culture lately, from Elon Musk’s dreams of escaping Earth to the highly publicized Mars One project. I’m very interested in the concept of leaving Earth to colonize another planet, especially in regards to escaping the destruction of Earth by human pollution. I’m not drawn to this because I think it’s a good or logical idea, but rather the fantasy of escapism inherent in the desire. I think such plans overlook some very basic issues, such as overcoming the spiritual crisis that leads us to attempt such an escape to begin with. How did we get to the point where we feel colonizing another planet is the best way forward, and how do we prevent ourselves from getting there again? And why is escaping better than addressing the issues where we are?

It seems to me that Red Rising, while not addressing these questions directly, at least dips its feet in the water. A Mars colony that has devolved into a dystopian society? Sounds plausible to me! I’m interested to see how deep Pierce Brown explores this theme, but I’m aware that it’s possible that this is primarily an action thriller with an interesting setting. I don’t expect it to dig in too deep into the spiritual and philosophical nature of the setting. It seems like it should be a fun ride anyways, and I’m always interested in the pervasive themes of oppression and liberation in these violent young adult novels.

I’m also interested in the unique writing style; as far as I can tell, it is written in the first-person present tense. It seems quite unique, so I am looking forward to seeing how this affects the feel of the story.

As part of a trilogy, I’ll continue with the rest of the series if the themes presented are strong enough to carry the analysis. I’m sure I will finish the series anyways, but the other two may be relegated to simple reviews rather than Book Clubs. I’d love to be able to break up the long epic fantasy Stormlight Archive with bits of more condensed sci fi in between, though.

(Check out the schedule for this book club here.)

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