Not going to lie, I was really into this. There were a few things that bothered me a bit and I hope that they're resolved in the next book but I felt like this was something that took a really old concept and turned it into a really interesting plot.
When I say old, I mean OLD. Darrow, our main character, is a red. Basically a slave. The world is categorized by different colors and red is the lowest of the low. Darrow and his people live way underground on Mars and have been told they're digging for a certain gas that will be used in order to create habitation on Mars for the people of Earth. What they weren't told is that people have been living on Mars' surface for centuries and the reds just keep digging. After he and his wife, Eo, are discovered breaking the rules, they are sentenced to a televised whipping. Eo, forever the dreamer, takes the chance to sing an outlawed song and becomes a martyr for a better cause. Darrow then steals her body to bury her and is also sentenced to hang, but he doesn't die.
Instead, he is transformed into a Gold by the rebellion, Son of Ares. He is told to infiltrate the institute (where Golds go to pass/fail in order to move up in society) in order to be placed in a prestigious job where the rebellion can make better use of him. Red to Gold spy.
Darrow is pretty cool, but he just doesn't seem to have the depth I'm looking for. His wife was killed for singing a song and he's surrounded by the very people that killed her. Where is the ANGER? Where is the sadness? I don't see it. He says he feels these things, but I need to believe and feel right there with him, and I didn't feel enough. I should be panicking that he'll be caught or raging at what the Golds are doing, but instead Darrow just seems kind of monotonous. I did this and I did that, pretty emotionless for someone who found out their entire life was a lie.
There's also no sort of emotional turmoil when he realizes he has feelings for one of the Golds. Like, yes, he was conflicted because of his feelings for his dead wife still, but there was no hesitation because of who she is and that did not seem realistic to me at all.
I did like that the author kind of made us like the Golds when they should have been enemies (well, some of them). Sevro was clearly the best character, the little goblin that he is. I don't understand how the ending was just kind of brushed under the carpet. Darrow killed some important ass people, how did he make it so that no one cared and he was hero of the day? He just said that Sevro changed the tapes... how could he spin that in a good way and why wasn't that revealed? It seemed like the end was just rushed. And then after Darrow completes the game, he's questioning what next and he said he felt like there was nothing left now that the game was over.... like you realize that now it actually begins? You're part of the revolution... the game was just the start how do you feel like you have nothing left to do?
And then there's the people that will point out that Darrow is naturally good at EVERYTHING, but it didn't bother me too much. He was basically broken and re-built and always talked about how good he was with his hands and dancing and blablabla, so I got over his perfectness pretty quick. It is a bit hard to believe that he's that good with war strategy and can come up with clever plans on the fly, but it is what it is.
Other than these minor things, I think that the book was well written and I look forward to the next one.