Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Posted February 9, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Science Fiction / 10 Comments

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1
Published by Del Rey
Published on: January 28 2014
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda...


Red Rising by Pierce Brown might be the best book in the history of ever.

When I first heard about this book, I was accosted with comparisons to The Hunger Games. By bloggers, by publicists, by other authors . . .

Everyone has read The Hunger Games, and everyone LOVED The Hunger Games (myself included), and the comparisons to The Hunger Games were probably inevitable, b/c Red Rising was the first Dystopian novel since The Hunger Games that has even remotely come close to the same level of brutality (IMO).

HOWEVER, Red Rising takes The Hunger Games‘ brutality and spits on it. Then jeers and makes rude gestures at it. Then rips off its arms and legs and beats it with them, shouting “Pax au Telemanus!” at the top of its lungs.

Seriously, I would’ve thought it impossible for me to even finish, let alone like, a book with this level of savagery. BUT Brown is clever about it. I didn’t even realize it myself until I was 75ish% finished and looking back through the parts I’d highlighted. And (right) now it’s occurring to me that Brown is even more clever than I originally thought him to be, b/c Darrow (MC) would be struggling with the same issues I was having.

About 30ish% into the book, you enter the third stage, and while the overall feel is still one of horror at the inhumanity of the upper classes, Darrow’s enemies start to become humanized. Funny, nay, downright HILARIOUS things happen, camaraderie develops . . . It creeps up on you until you forget why Darrow is where he is. You’re caught up in the NOW, survival depends on the present, and little thought is given to the past or the future.

And you’re experiencing this so vividly b/c Darrow is too.

Red Rising is about a world run by a caste system. The castes are based on the eugenically modified eye color of a person. But the eugenics are not limited to the color of an individual’s iris, oh no, they have Obsidian elite soldiers that are twice the size of normal men, Violet artists with twelve fingers on each hand to better art (I’m so adjective, I verb nouns) with, and Pinks whose only job is to provide pleasure (ifyouknowwhatimean) for the high-color castes (mostly Golds and Silvers). Pinks who sometimes have wings among other fantastical features created by Violets.

And then there are the Golds. The Golds that are in charge. The Golds that send their own children to an Institute, where if they survive “The Passage” (a sort of enforced Survival of the Fittest), they play a real-life version of Risk. How well they play determines their futures with the victorious team members being assured fame and fortune. There are no rules once the ten month-long game begins, but killing other Golds is frowned upon.

It should be noted that there are worse things than death.

Enter Darrow, a Red from the lowest-level caste. He is a Helldiver, one of the most elite driller/miners who live beneath Mars’ surface, who believes he labors to provide a better future for his people. His job, along with the other Reds, is to mine Helium-3 which is essential in terraforming. The Earth is overpopulated you see, and Darrow’s ancestors were burdened with the glorious purpose of ensuring Mars is habitable for future generations. As soon as terraforming is complete, the Reds will return to the surface as the rightful rulers of the planet that was built on their backs.


I could go on and on (and on) about this book. Though it is (for unfathomable reasons) listed as YA, I can tell you that I will not be getting it for my youngest (14 y.o.) sister any time in the near future. I can also tell you that if you read this book, you will run the full gamut of emotions—I did anyway.

Bottomline: Red Rising is one of the absolute must-reads of 2014.

Jessica Signature

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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10 responses to “Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

  1. Yay! I bought this one already, I read 5 chapters and then I painfully put it down to wait for the audio…lol I know I’m going to love the whole dorn thing. So I’d grad have my first experience of it on odio…..Crazy

    • I’m actually going to the library some time this week (to get a library card) so I can start with the audio reviews. I’m gonna try to anyway–I’m not much of an auditory learner, but I want to try 🙂 And you will LOVE it, (I hope). It’s my new go-to book (the one I harass various friends and family members into reading).

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t describe The Hunger Games as dark either, but I think both are definitely brutal. And I loved both of them too, so maybe I don’t have as much of a problem with it as I thought I would 😉

  2. Ooh I’ve been seeing this book around lately but I’ve been waiting to see some reviews on it. I’m glad you liked it so much! I’m definitely going to get this from the library soon 🙂

  3. I don’t think I saw a comparison with Hunger games but I’m curious. I heard great things about this one everywhere and I was surprised. I didn’t take it because I was afraid it would be a sci-fi book about space, and a friend told me that yes it’s in the space but it’s not a space book. Now I know I need to try it and I think I could love it as well. Thanks for the nice review!

    • Yeah, the “space” part of the book is really just background. It’s the future, so people live on Mars and the Moon, but that’s it—just a different kind of country, you know? I hope you give it a shot and LOVE it as much as I did 🙂

  4. You pretty much had the book on my tbr by the opening line. Now that I’ve read your review (which had me LMAO by the way) I’m buying it and adding to my review calendar… I won’t get to it until April probably, but still. Awesome review. And I probably would have never consider this book, because the cover bored me enough that I realized I didn’t even read the synopsis until after I read the first line of your review. Oops! I seriously need to stop judging books by the cover, it’s a bad habit!

    • Do ittttt! Even if you don’t get to until April, it’s totally worth it. And don’t feel bad, I totally wrote it off too. And not just b/c of the mediocre cover, but the whole dystopian thing is getting kind of over-played (for me anyway). One of my favorite reviewers sold me on it, so your bad habit is also my bad habit 😉