Reviews

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

carolinareadsromance's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

lvlykristen's review

Go to review page

dark tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.25

stormy_gopher's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark tense medium-paced

4.5

drew_cn's review

Go to review page

5.0

Holy Shit. What a ride, this book just kept exceeding my expectations. I can’t wait to see where the series goes in the next book, the world that was developed is so dark but so intriguing. I loved this book so so much.

shelfreflectionofficial's review

Go to review page

adventurous challenging dark emotional inspiring sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

“I am no Gold. I am a Red… Forged in the bowels of this hard world. Sharpened by hate. Strengthened by love.”

“I am the spark that will set the worlds afire. I am the hammer that cracks the chains.”



I’m a little late to the Red Rising Party as this book came out in 2014, but I’m happy to be here and since all the books are out I’m also happy I don’t have to wait for the next one!

This is your classic dystopian fantasy/sci-fi series about classism and the rebellion against the ruling elite. It’s similar to Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Lord of the Flies but a more intense, adult version. Yes, there are a bunch of youths fighting one another in an arena of sorts where the rules constantly change, the outcome appears rigged, and their humanity is on the brink of being lost forever. But they are in space and the writing is more graphic and ruthless.

Just like Katniss wasn’t like any other fighter in her arena, so too is this series’ hero— Darrow who has his own special skills and back story. Also like Katniss, he comes from the lowest ‘class’ and is fighting against the elite, ruling class. He will also become the face of the rebellion (at least that’s what this series seems to be telling me). His motivations for winning are also what sets him apart from the others he is fighting.


Somehow the Society has not figured out that if you kill someone’s wife you are the catalyst for creating your own demise because that man will rise up like a superhuman warrior and rip your throats out. Or something close to it. [See Gladiator, Braveheart, Memento, Sweeney Todd, Law-Abiding Citizen, or Rocky IV if Apollo Creed was wife...] Seems like this should be bad-guy-101: killing wives spawns rebel warriors.

I mean I was just 40 pages in and my heart was already ripped out so that was fun. But it did immediately invest me in the success of Darrow. The stakes felt very high throughout the whole book.

This series is six books long so I’m curious how many diversions we will have before Darrow gets his revenge, but I love a good story of justice served so I’m here for it. However, one main theme in this book is Darrow figuring out the difference between revenge and justice. He is not a perfect hero and I’m not sure what we will have to go through to reach that justice and if it will be worth it in the end. That is the draw of the story for me now.

“They want my memory short. But all my people sing of are memories… I must not become like them. I’ll remember that every sin, every death, every sacrifice, is for freedom.”

This book did take a while to get into because you’re dropped right into the middle of this foreign world, a terraformed Mars, and this colony of Reds has their own vernacular. It takes a minute to figure out what’s what, who’s who, and why it matters.

I definitely felt immersed in the world. It probably helped that I was able to read large chunks of the book at a time. I think especially when you first start this book you should have the ability to read a big chunk first or it might lose you.

Although, overall, I felt the world-building was good, I think there are still parts of the world I’m struggling to picture. I don’t know what a terraformed Mars looks like because the planet is red. But in this book there are mountains , snow, forests and water and so I’m struggling to understand the science behind how this happens— are they in a big bubble of some kind? Or is that aspect just something I need to accept as ‘the way it is.’ Because although they are in space, Earth is not obsolete. It’s not as if Earth was destroyed hundreds of years ago so I’m still wrapping my mind around the setting.



Basic Premise

Darrow is sixteen and part of the Red Colony. Everyone on Mars is divided into social classes identified by color: Oranges are technicians, Obsidians are soldiers, Coppers are bureaucrats, Yellows are doctors, Reds are diggers, etc. And of course the highest of all are the prestigious, genetically modified to be superior Golds.

The Reds are so low on the totem pole that they don’t even realize that they have been enslaved. They think their work mining helium-3 is essential to the planet becoming habitable for everyone eventually.

In this colony marriage happens young. Darrow has a wife. Life is hard, but he is content to dig and come home to the love of his life. It is enough and the work feels important.

“Without me, she would not eat. Without her, I would not live.”

The hierarchy is unfair and oppressive, but rebellion comes at too high of a cost.

“We are a people of dance and song and family. It is the one resistance we can manage against the Society that rules us… Yet to remind us of our place, they make one song and one dance punishable by death. My father made that dance his last.”

Like his father, Darrow’s wife has a dream of rebellion and freedom. In one of her last acts she shows Darrow a glimpse of the world above— the planet has already been habitable for many years and has been built on the backs of the Reds who will never see the spoils of their labor. They are supposed to stay enslaved in the lies and oppressed into submission.

She sees what Darrow could become.

“Emptiness is living chained by fear, fear of loss, of death. Break the chains of fear and you break the chains that bind us to the Golds, to the Society. Mars could be ours.”

At her punishment for going outside the boundaries, she sings the forbidden song and both Darrow and her pay the ultimate cost.

In a bitter twist, Darrow does not find himself in the vale with his wife. Death has not claimed him. Instead a band of rebels with connections arranges for his ‘rebirth’ into the society above. They plan to infiltrate the Gold from within in order to bring them down. Darrow, Red to the bone, becomes a Gold, tutored in their ways and mannerisms. Gold in the face, but Red in the heart.

“I’m a sheep wearing wolves’ clothing in a pack of wolves.”

The first step for him is entrance into the academy that will send him on the needed trajectory for leadership over armies or squadrons. Part of the entrance process involves an elaborate capture the flag ‘game’ between the twelve ‘houses’ of the Society. While it’s not specifically a fight to the death like Hunger Games, death, torture, mutilation, and rape become acceptable practices as the Gold warriors compete to win the accolades and the best job prospects post-game.

“You’ll realize you are a good man who will have to do bad things.”

“That’s what they are teaching us, not only the pain in gaining power, but the desperation that comes when you are not a Gold.”




Love and War

It is always interesting to read these kind of books that challenge the idea of violence as entertainment or that expose people’s true violent capability.

Why do we enjoy these books?

“What we must study is humanity. In order to rule, ours must be the study of political, psychological, and behavioral science— how desperate human beings react to one another, how packs form, how armies function, how things fall apart and why. You could learn this nowhere else but here.”

Perhaps we tell ourselves that this is extreme and this would never happen to us. Perhaps we think we are learning. It’s something worth pondering. But whatever we think as we’re reading, I think it would be hard to deny that what we must come to grips with is our own capacity for evil. Pushed to their limits or put in a crucible of the right ingredients, people will do unspeakable things.

People aren’t inherently good. We have something inside us that wants to always choose the selfish option. Self-preservation. Anyone but me. We’re pretty good at justifying our actions so we don’t have to confront our own sinfulness.

There is no doubt that we need a Savior. And thank God we don’t have to rebirth our own version of one we cross our fingers will be enough to bring us freedom. There is a man perfect and holy enough to live the life we never could and die the death we deserved, not because he was pushed to the limits, but because he willingly offered Himself out of love for his enemies. Us.

That person is Jesus. And his sacrifice is a done deal. No finger-crossing required.

These kinds of books remind me that I am thankful for that sacrifice. I am thankful that he has the cure for my own sin. He has the freedom that releases me from being enslaved to my own selfishness and I don’t have to sew myself into a horse carcass to get it.

These thoughts bring me to this quote from the book:

“Love and war are two different battlefields.”

Is it true?



Recommendation

I would definitely recommend this book and series as long as you can handle the violence. It’s not for everyone and that’s totally okay. There are plenty of other books to read.

I also would not recommend this for teenagers. It is definitely a different level than Hunger Games and even though the characters are teenagers, I wouldn’t say it’s appropriate for young readers.

I am looking forward to continuing this series and watching the trajectory of justice take its course.



[Content Advisory: The world-building includes a new vernacular for swearing. I suppose that makes it easier to read because they aren’t traditional swear words but there is still some crassness in the dialogue and obviously a lot of gore and violence.]

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

dannywithaygreenlikethecolor's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

"Break the chains." 3.5 Stars
This was a hit or miss for a lot of people and I get it. I HATE the fake language/curses. I think it's pointless but towards the end of this novel you actually get why it is so impactful! Different language different colors, I was so happy to know Darrow didn't get himself killed. Will I continue the series? I think so but I am not pushing super hard for it. I was lucky enough to get the Red Rising Fairyloot set soooooo I do think I will read them at some point.

mslelouch's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

Once in a while, you stumble on a book. A book so fine and divine that you can not help but love it. Red rising is that book! Ohh the prose! The politics! Everything! Red rising was compared to the hunger games! I don't get it, it is more. This! This was epic. I'm so happy and overjoyed!!

We follow Darrow, who is a "red" and is pretty much contented with his life, but the loss of someone pivots him to find out he is being lied too. So what does he do?! He enters the Gold society as a spy of the red rebellion and plays their game. Ohh he plays so well. We get to see his inner conflict, his demons, and the friends he makes along the way. All this for revenge. Does he succeed? In a way. Well, he is getting there.......
My only small issue with this was that he, somehow, always wants to stand on the moral ground. I can understand that. But "my lord", you have killed before. That moral pedistle is gone, my good sir. So just sit down. Finally in summary everything comes down to 4.79 stars

larakmacon's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

pgunther's review

Go to review page

dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes

5.0

sulm's review

Go to review page

adventurous emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0