Ok, so yes, this is another YA dystopian novel, and yes it shares a lot of common features w/ Hunger Games, Divergent, and Lord of the Flies (among others, I understand), and yet, it is GOOD.
Darrow is a Red -- he's born to serve the other colors with his strength, speed, and perseverance. His ancestors have been sent to Mars to get it ready for terraforming, such that the others can eventually join them and live on the planet.
Only... that's already happened. They just "forgot" to tell the Reds, down below the surface. So they slave away (quite literally), generation after generation.
Until some Reds grow tired of serving the other colors of the human race. Darrow's young wife is one such Red -- she dreams of a time when Reds will be free and equal. And she is taken from Darrow in the most complete of ways for her dreams.
Darrow is allowed a chance to seek his revenge and to perhaps someday see Eo (his wife)'s dreams realized. He is placed in the belly of the beast and we shall see how he can survive.
I ... that's really just the beginning. I don't want to say much more because I think the discovery is much of the charm. (Or you can also just read other reviews if you want more ;))
What's good: Ya know, despite it being just another teen dystopia, it's really good! It's somehow really interesting. Brown has created many sympathetic characters, Reds, Purples, Pinks, and Golds alike. Although the story is written from Darrow's first person perspective, you feel like you really get a sense of what others are feeling and thinking. And that too -- it's written in first person, which is initially jarring and off-putting and ... well, odd, given Darrow's personality. But it actually makes sense for this story. And I think, ultimately, it's how the story needed to be presented. Although Darrow often comes off as an arrogant, thoughtless, typical teen ... you also see growth and understanding and shame - all from his own perspective.
What's not as good. So... yeah, all the comparisons to other YA dystopia are pretty strong. It's Lord of the Flies in that teens are left to their own devices and, as such, there are terrible consequences. It's Hunger Games in that the battles that are being fought are not, necessarily, for others' amusements, but .. well, they are. And it's not actually war .. just kind of play-war. And it's Divergent in the way the teens' rankings are continual and posted and ... brutal and seemingly immoral. (and I know, that's not really clear, but again, I don't want to give anything away :)) So right, it's not terribly original. There's some originality there and it's written well enough, but the story is not really new. And then there are times where the story feels repetitive and redundant ... where maybe it could have repeated the patterns a little less and moved a little more quickly.
But all in all, a quite enjoyable read, and I am definitely looking forward to the 2nd in this trilogy.
I also think it's important to note that there should be mild trigger warnings -- no graphic descriptions, but rape comes up a fair amount in this book, even just the existence of it. No real scenes, no descriptions, just ... it comes up a bit. So mild trigger warnings for the particularly sensitive.
Overall, FOUR of five stars.