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. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.
Blurb and picture from Goodreads
I’ll admit, when I first started this, I wasn’t overly excited. It was set out like every other dystopia book; the poor classes realise they’re being treated badly, so go to rebel against the system. By the end of the trilogy, everyone will be living happily ever after (with a few losses along the way).
Only, then he meets Dancer at the rebels. And they refused to follow our stereotypical dystopia pattern. Instead, they get Darrow to infiltrate the Gold’s school (the best of the best in the hierarchy). This school was like nothing I’d ever read before. It was ruthless and brutal, and there was so much going on inside it. There was no way of predicting what would happen next; I don’t think Darrow himself knew. There was a new twist every couple of chapters, and yes, there were times when I had to freak out and walk away from the book.
The world building was good too. With Dancer’s great idea, we got to see both what it was like to be a Red, and the opposite end of the spectrum. Interestingly, neither of them were happy. I loved that comparison. In the next book, I’d like to see more of the outside world. The school isn’t the same as what it’d be like to be an actual Gold. I think we saw enough of the Red’s lives for me to be content. We definitely got to see how much they suffered, and I sympathised with them so much.
We also had a pretty great cast of characters. Mostly, we got to know Darrow. He changed a lot going through the process of the school; as you’d expect, with what he had to do to even have a shot of getting an apprenticeship. Some of the other characters, we didn’t get to know as well. He was very wary of becoming too close to people, since they were his enemies. But I’m sure he had a little crush on Mustang. I know I did… She was pretty badass, and didn’t seem to be afraid of much. I loved Darrow’s love for Eo. We didn’t get to actually see much of her, but we got to see Darrow’s memories of her. Couples like those two are my favourite. We saw Cassius go mad (for a pretty good reason), and I loved seeing that descent. Actually, we saw quite a few characters go mad. Again, they’re in this brutal place to get a good future. Can you blame them?
The ending sort of blew my mind. I went through SO MUCH STRESS and SO MUCH PAIN. My mum was kinda worried about me I think, since I was sitting in my room yelling at my book. But what can I do? With an ending like that, I had to freak out somehow. I need the second book ASAP, so I can find out what the hell happens to Darrow after making that decision!