Red Rising took me completely by surprise. Not only is it extremely well written and utterly captivating - it's also hilarious. Lying by the hotel pool in Greece, I've giggled and laughed out loud on many occasions, earning more than one odd look from the other sun bathers.
The main character Darrow is a very likably guy. He's got all the core values of a down to earth good guy, but driven by anger and need for revenge, he wants to bring down the Golden elite show's enslaved his people for centuries, enthralling them with lies.
When Darrow infiltrates the academy disguised as one of their own (after quite the Hunger Games-ish make over times 10), he becomes full of conflicting emotions. He is soon sucked into the politics of the war games and the battle for survival between the students. It's even quite hard to remember at times that he's a mole working undercover, side-by-side with the children of his arch-enemies. Even he forgets this at times. But are the children their parents? Or do they have values of their own? It doesn't matter - Darrow has to win to succeed and avenge the Reds.
The book's front cover tells it's a mix of the Hunger Games and Ender's Game, and that's pretty accurate, but it also really brings its own to the table. Red Rising is a brilliant mix of awesome sci-fi at its best, politics, war games and teen on teen death matches. It portrays mankind at its absolute worst as it strives to forge it into its absolute best. The action is high paced, the plot is intricate, the humour is dry and on point and it's masterly written. In short, I loved it! I also very much enjoyed the heavy comparisons to Roman and Greece mythology.
I've already bought the second novel in the series, Golden Son (published in January 2015), and I can't wait to read it! Book 3, Morning Star, is expected to be published in February 2016.