The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs. Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government. When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand's dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury.
In this fast-paced dystopia, Olivia Chadha transports us to a climate ravaged future in South Asia. Rise of the Red Hand is filled with complex characters, a deeply flawed and divided society, and technology with searing ramifications ... From beginning to end, Rise of the Red Hand is an intense ride. Chadha introduces us to the world layer by layer as Ashiva goes on a smuggling run. It’s a smart way to blend the details of the world without halting the nonstop forward momentum of the plot ... This mix of plot, world-building, and technology is consistent throughout every facet of the book, which all place it firmly in the hard science fiction genre ... Rise of the Red Hand throws the reader into the melee immediately and doesn’t stop, even when we reach the end. It’s a book that will leave readers breathless and ready to dive in again to catch the details they may have missed.
Olivia Chadha’s heartfelt, adroit, brisk and thoughtful debut novel proves that everything old is new again ... [Chadha] deploys a lucid, unornamented voice that serves her purposes well, showing us the grimness of existence, but also granting clear access to the inner lives of her protagonists ... her swell utilization of the c-p toolkit is beyond reproach. Additionally, seasonings of Richard Morgan, Ian McDonald, and Paolo Bacigalupi contribute nice elements to the mix ... Rise of the Red Hand proves itself willing to shatter daringly all its initial assumptions and verities, putting its cast through life-altering fires, in order to create new forms of beauty and hope and possible salvation.
The setting is more than an interesting backdrop. The behaviors, objectives, and motivations of the characters aren’t rooted in a Western/white mentality but a South Asian diasporic one ... The rest of the worldbuilding is just as fascinating ... Chadha does a good job of dispensing [...] information out in such a way that it allows the narrative to breathe without slowing down the plot ... There were a few elements I struggled with ... We don’t get much cyberpunk in young adult fiction these days, despite the obvious need. Wouldn’t it be nice if Rise of the Red Hand kickstarted a new trend?