I knew nothing about this book when I started it, other than that it was very well reviewed by people I respect and part of a three-book series. This was another case of those I respect holding up their end. This was fun as hell. The initial depiction of red life was a good entry into the world. The author doesn’t hold your hand describing everything, but you quickly get a feel for everyday life as a “red” on Mars. The payoff for the early line regarding when you hang someone on Mars you have to grab their legs to break the neck was done well and gave me confidence the structure of the story would work.
Darrow is a good protagonist despite being reasonable familiar in being the best of the very best…the smartest of the smartest (like Kvothe or Ender among many others). There are real short term and long-term stakes to what he is doing and the relationships he builds along the way (good and bad) work. In my reviews I try not to give away too much of the plot, but this is a novel where the world is well setup, the themes are clear, and everything is well realized and delivered. There are plenty of surprises and minor twists along the way, but none feel cheap, many in fact are incredibly well earned. This is a great opening to a great series. I’ve since read some comparisons to The Hunger Games, which I get at some level, though to me this is much more ambitious and does so much more over the course of 3 (or 5+ depending on how you look at it) novels.