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.
The first half of the book feels very dystopian/sci-fi while the other half reads like historical fiction set fashionably in ancient Greece and Roman at once (sometimes Greek gods/sometimes Roman gods + Roman commanders = confusing combination & references). I loved the beginning and the exploration of the society. Then the main character was thrown into a world of attack-and-conquer with rulers who live, literally, like gods on their own Mt. Olympus. However, it read very similar to “Hunger Games.”
The beginning is very well written. Not all terminology is handed to you, but within the context of the main character’s actions, you get the jist of things. And as you read more, things become
clearer. I like experiencing new worlds instead of having them slowly described. I think the balance
between experiencing and revealing was well done. I like science fiction, so the tech could be easily imagined.
Then the main character went through a “Gattica”-like transformation. After it was over, I liked how Darrow kept his first name. While a risk, I felt that was an essential element to the character. The readers as well as the main character needed something that was still recognizable about the character. As a movie, they’ll need two different actors for Darrow. Using 1 actor for both is not feasible. It worked for Capt. America, but in this story, everything from skin, bones, blood, hair, eyes is changed.
Once we entered the school for Golds, things become incredibly brutal, bloody, and graphic. This is a YA novel? This is way beyond “Hunger Games” grit and gore. And honestly, I’m not sure what new elements were brought to the dystopian genre in general. When I was reading, I kept thinking: “Hunger Games” moment, “Gattica” moment, “Insurgent” moment, “Ender’s Game” moment, “Gladiator” moment. Things felt like pieces of other stories woven together, but it was made into something still recognizable by its counterparts instead of something fresh and new. If this does get made into a movie, I doubt I could watch it. I do not want to watch 16 year olds sawing off their own hands or getting stabbed multiple times in a row.
What I liked about the main character was his love for his wife. He never lost sight of where he came from and the love that drove him at the beginning of the book. However, despite being the top of the class of Golds, he was easily duped. He kept falling into traps and then miraculously saved. First it was about finding Roque, then it was with Cassius, then it was with Apollo. Dude, seriously? The author tries to make it so Darrow understands he’s walking into a trap each time, but it got monotonous.
Everything is very well thought out. Darrow has a lot to learn about strategy, motivations, and politics. How he processed and understood events as well as deciding what needed to be done next was well narrated. Darrow came up with plans that I did not see coming. The strategizing was very intelligently realized. However, this book is long. I felt the war games got to be tedious.
I purchased the professional narration for this book. I think it helped to add a lot of emotion into the narration. I liked how Brown would repeat certain phrases here and there to give them different meanings. There was a robust mix of characters which populated the world. The world itself was intricate & vast. There was very little romance to the story, which is fine with me. There were a few parts I laughed out loud. There was a lot of action. But with said action, there was a lot of violence. There was rape. There was murder. There was a massive amount of cussing.
I really liked the first part of the book: the underground cities, the “propaganda” TV displays, the mysterious larger world, and the community of the Reds. Brown is great at building communities and different dialects and different traditions which make up parts of a world. But the story became something else entirely. While I like the unexpected, the plot became too gory, too intense, and too cold-blooded to read for pleasure. I would not read the book again. I’m not sure if I’d read book 2. How is this YA literature?? It’s somewhat horrifying.
Just released December 2016: "The Forgotten" volume 2 "Heir of the Heretic"
Reviewed and awarded the
2016 Indie Editor's Choice
by the Historical Novel Society.
Long listed for the Historical Novel Society 2017 Indie Award.
Goodreads profile at: https://www.goodreads.com/JElse