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Friday, July 13, 2018

Pierce Brown's Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, Eli Powell

Pierce Brown's Red Rising Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, Eli Powell

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Space fiction
Hardcover: 152 pages
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release date: March 13, 2018

Series:  Sons of Ares #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

From the world of the best-selling YA series Red Rising comes a story of love and loss and rage!

In the future, when mankind has spread across the stars, the hierarchy of man is dictated by the color of one’s caste. The Golds rule all, but what will happen when one falls for a lowly Red? See how a forbidden love will set the course of events for the future and lead to the formation of the formidable Sons of Ares!

This prequel graphic novel introduces us to Fitchner au Barca before his days leading the Sons of Ares. We recall Fitchner as being a tricky sort, with a crude sense of humor and gory (or "gorydamn") penchant for violence. That doesn't mean he's without morality, though, but more like he bats no eye at crossing the line from killing humanely to killing in an animalistic fashion, especially if it's someone who's betrayed him.

Beginning with a brief introduction to the world and it's social hierarchy and origins, this graphic novel sort of skirts around Fitchner's past, showing him in an unknown undercover operation and flashing back to his beginnings and then to his time at the Institute. Mostly, I think this flashback serves to show how Fitchner had a long history of being belittled by his own color, forced to commit atrocities, and thus gives him a new perspective when he takes his position in society. Fitchner shows he isn't like other Golds when he rebels against what his society has taught him and values the lives of others after the horrors he's committed. He saves the lives of Reds caught in an explosion, Reds he's responsible for.

This marks his biggest change, moving from a lonely outsider to being accepted by a family. Here begins what we've only heard barely mentioned by Sevro in the original stories, the talk of his mother, Bryn. It follows her meeting with Fitchner, their marriage, and Sevro's birth -- our sweet little Goblin as a baby (who apparently always was called a goblin). It's easy to see where Sevro gets his attitude after these flashbacks to his father's early life, and their similar experiences of being bullied and shamed by other Golds for their appearance and height.

It is at this point that the novel's present and flashbacks meet up to continue the story. And what a horrifying tale it is, especially for those of us who might be parents of littles and fellow Howlers. Poor Sevro and his mother have been captured by the Board of Quality Control. Bryn is being questioned about her baby's father and Sevro's life is threatened as they want to carve him up to see how he's alive. It's possibly the worst nightmare come true. I won't say how it ends (mostly we know a bit from the novels), but it's in this fight that reveals Fitchner's ascendance to Ares.

This is the first time the world of Red Rising has been captured in art form. Eli Powell creates this world dark and smudgy and shadowed, both with literal shadow and the subject matter. While I liked seeing the science fiction schematics, I sort of feel like we do miss the emphasis of the action that is brought to life so well in the text. It's sort of the age-old, what's in your head is better than portrayals, whether in future film or in this graphic novel series. Not that Powell's art leaves things to be desired, but that the format of a graphic novel doesn't capture the same quality of the novels. There isn't as much dialogue and description because things are shown to the reader. It leaves some things more ambiguous than they might have been otherwise. Perhaps too, it was the nature of this story itself, too, as there aren't many positives. It's truly a rebirth narrative, "out of the ashes of Gold rises a 'god'".

It was not how I pictured Fitchner. He looked more like he was not finely molded, like a block of wood contrasted with typical Gold picturesque carving. I thought he would have perhaps a bulbous nose or just features that were too big for his face. I was also picturing all Reds looking like gingers, but Bryn seemed to have brunette hair. Not a big deal in the long run, but just a different perspective. I enjoyed reading this and will likely continue when more are pubbed but don't expect the full-bodied flavor of the other series. It's just an all-too-brief glimpse into the past.

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.

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