My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for a review which did not in any way influence this review. That should be obvious by the two stars and it was hard to decide what to give this book. Someone said they felt bad for rating it so low because you felt it should be higher because it's well written and most people seem to love it. I didn't. I found a great deal of it to be predictable and dull. Especially the beginning.
Granted the beginning was easy to predict just from reading the back blurb. Darrow is a young (only 16) helldiver, a Red Mars miner. His world is dark, dangerous and underground, slaving away to ready Mars for occupation. In true dystopian style, women are relegated to the role of broodmare only good for their uteruses (at least that DOES get better later in the book). Darrow is married to Eo only that took me so time to figure out and there was problem number one for me. I never once thought he loved her. He seemed more concerned about winning a laurel for his mining than he ever did her. It took about thirty seconds to realize she was going to lead him into trouble and they'd get caught and we still do public hanging because apparently in this SF high tech world punishment is now back to the 1800s. I was with Harmony on this, Eo was a worthless idiot. If this had been a library book I wouldn't have gotten further than this before returning. That's why most of my reviews are three star or higher. I don't read books I don't like unless there's a reason. If I win a book, I'll read it no matter what.
From here on out assume there are minor spoilers in the review.
Darrow is The One (no wait, that's Neo. Okay, pretty much the same difference). He is selected by the rebellion to infiltrate the upper level colors in their caste system which is insanely complex. Darrow learns he has been lied to. Mars is already occupied and has been. His people, the Reds, are mere slaves. Darrow has been selected to be remade as the highest of the high, a Gold. Mickey, a purple who seems to be able to flesh shape as their special talent (and what a name, half the book has Greco-Roman names for some reason and here we have Mickey), is going to re-write Darrow down to his DNA. I almost stopped reading here again when the science was so wrong. At one point Mickey is tearing muscles to make them stronger and I started gnashing my teeth. Okay I'm medically trained. I know that makes a weaker muscle but maybe not everyone knows so I Googled it. Yeah that took 30 seconds to prove it's all over the place had anyone bothered to look. For that matter having each color so separated and unable to interbreed, Brown has actually created subspecies of humans so they're not even the same species any more but I digress. This section was so very boring.
Finally Darrow is ready and he's sent to the Academy where for some reason I still don't buy into the Golds do battle ala every YA dystopia in the least decade. The smartest and wealthiest caste do battle. Let that sink in. How many money men do you know who do their own fighting? There are castes in this system designed to be warriors. Maybe somewhere it was explained why they fought. I was probably asleep by that point. I couldn't buy into it. Sorry, I just couldn't. The rich and powerful tend to buy soldiers not be them. You don't take the best brains on the next generations (because these ARE teenagers) and make them fight to the death or at least until they're maimed. That's idiotic.
So for the next nearly two hundred pages you have scene after scene of predictable violence as Darrow gathers his followers and that's yet another problem for me. Darrow is angry. he should be. But he's also arrogant and unlikable and I don't see how he's so charismatic to have the loyal followers that he does. At least Mustang and Servo were somewhat interesting as was Jackal.
And the ending failed for me too. Jackal makes his offer. Darrow does what he does and forces Jackal to do something rather unbelievable and while it looks good on the page if you like over the top violence, it really that likely to happen. Then thirty pages later another character makes more or less the same offer and Darrow takes it leading us into book two. Frankly it would have made more sense to take it when Jackal offered but that wouldn't have allowed for those pages of more violence.
I guess if you like violence for violence sake or you're a fan of these battle type YA dystopias, you'll like this. I think this is it for me. If ever I want to read another YA dystopia I'll get it from the library so I don't have to finish it because I'd feel bad if I don't. As for me, I was so bored with this I finished four other reviews before it. I know I'm in the minority with not liking it but that's okay. It's obviously just not my thing but as a bestseller, it hardly needs my approval.
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