Red Rising

Del Rey: Ballantine. Feb. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780345539786. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780345539793. SF
OrangeReviewStarAll 16-year-old Darrow knows is mining for helium-3 deep below the surface of Mars, believing, as do all those of the Red clan, that they are the first peoples of Mars who sacrifice their lives to create a habitable planet for the inhabitants of an overpopulated dying Earth. But when his equally young wife is hanged for singing a forbidden song of freedom, Darrow follows her to the gallows only to be saved by members of a higher clan who want to use him to overthrow those in power. Surgically altered to resemble a Gold, the highest, most powerful clan on Mars, Darrow undergoes a demanding training and education regime in an effort to attain admittance into the Institute from which the future leaders of Mars are chosen. It is only after he is chosen as one of the top 100 most promising students that he and his classmates discover just how vicious the ruling classes are as they are forced to fight one another in war games where only the most intelligent and the most ruthless can survive and rise.
VERDICT Brown's debut novel, the first volume in a planned trilogy, is reminiscent of both Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games and William Goldman's The Lord of the Flies but has a dark and twisted power of its own that will captivate readers and leave them wanting more. [See Prepub Alert, 8/5/13.]
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