Book Review

Red Rising

Red Rising

  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Genre: YA Sci-Fi
  • Publication Date: January 28, 2014
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Series: Red Rising Saga #1

TRIGGER WARNING: violence, gore, mutilation, off-page rape

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

This book was shoved down my throat strongly recommended by my friend, who said she was sure I’d love it. I was skeptical, since I do not generally like sci-fi, especially that which takes place in outer space, but she has never once steered me wrong, so I listened to her. She was right. 

There’s a strong Greco-Roman influence to the society in which the story takes place. While it does take place on Mars, it isn’t overwhelmingly space-oriented, as I was expecting it to be. Mildly reminiscent of Red Queen, the society is broken into color-oriented castes, with Reds at the bottom and Golds at the top. Darrow is a Red, and like the rest of his class, he is little more than a slave to other classes. The Golds are viewed as godlike. 

After his world is rocked by tragedy, Darrow is willing to risk everything to get into the Institute, which trains Golds for their futures. What he doesn’t expect is how brutal the training really is. It’s physically brutal, but also emotionally brutal. And for Darrow, especially, there’s a huge psychological component that isn’t present for the others, because he is in the process of becoming the very thing that he hates. 

“‘An empire cannot be destroyed from without till it is destroyed from within.’”

Even as Darrow was changing, I still really liked his character. He was extremely self-aware, and realized what was happening. He was surprisingly sensitive, and despite his physical, mental, and genetic deficits, he still managed to hold his own against the godlike Golds he was pitted against, and it actually gives him an edge in one way because he has an insight that his peers don’t. 

“‘There are no Golds here. I’m a Red. You’re a Red. We are all Reds till one of us gets enough power. Then we get rights. Then we make our own law.’”

The other character that I really loved was Sevro. He was a total underdog the entire time. Sevro was brilliant and managed to use his intelligence to overcome challenges and his physical shortcomings. 

I was kind of expecting this to be similar to The Hunger Games with a male cast, but it wound up having more in common with Lord of the Flies, but with older participants that have a lot more on the line. There was a lot of violence in the story, but it actually fit in really well, and I didn’t feel like it was overdone. I was completely taken in by the immersive world. Between the flowing, natural writing, the fast-paced action, and the surprising plot twists, I was hopelessly lost in Darrow’s story and this world. I immediately went to the library and picked up the next two books because I absolutely could not wait to see what happens next in this incredible series!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 15

5 replies »

  1. This series also keeps being recommended to me and I keep putting it off coz I worry it won’t be my jam! But seeing as you liked it a lot convinces me that I should probably bump this up my TBR and finally kick it off the list sooner rather than later. I’m not particularly keen on Lord of the Flies but this does sound interesting enough! Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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