Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

79a3b-redrisingRed Rising by Pierce Brown

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1

Publisher: Random House (January 2014)


Wendy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Darrow is a helldiver, one of the most skilled and daring miners among the Reds who work themselves to death to prepare Mars for the “softer colours” of a dying Earth. The thing is, Mars has been terraformed for centuries, but the Golds who rule above all colours are already there, lolling about on the unknowing backs of the lesser colours.

Darrow learns this the hard way when he becomes involved with the Sons of Aries, a rebel group determined to bring down the ruling Golds — by turning Darrow into one of them.

I avoided the hype on this book, though I did know about The Hunger Games comparison. Initially, I didn’t quite grasp the comparison, but it becomes clear soon enough. Darrow, in his new Gold body, becomes a part of a deadly game of survival against the other Gold hopefuls. But unlike the Hunger Games, these young adults are fighting for a place high in society. The goal isn’t simply to kill the competition, but to conquer, just as the Golds have done for centuries.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the idea that the people at the top of the pyramid live in luxury, but they are far from soft. The society is modeled after Greco-Roman domination, and their tctics are no less ruthless. There most certainly is death within the arena, but there is also political intrigue and a lot of scheming. The Sons of Aries have taught Darrow much, but it his own skills and smarts as a Red and as a Helldiver that really come in handy. Of course.

Of course Darrow ends up more or less on top throughout, though there is ample struggle and betrayal along the way. In fact, there are a lot of things that go on that, after a while, become quite tedious. They all make sense, well enough, but I had so little connection to the characters, including Darrow, that I simply didn’t care. Brown tried to make them real enough, but in actuality, Mustang, Pax, Cassius — they are all fairly two-dimensional, as is Darrow himself, despite the level of depth Brown tries to give through Darrow’s initial tragedies. I got tired of Darrow telling me about his rage.

Also, Darrow is only 16 years old, but I found the characters didn’t often act their age. I initially chalked up Darrow’s more adult actions as due to a life of hardship that forced him to become an adult early in life, but this too was part of the disconnect I felt with the characters. I am not a fan of YA books that feature petulant, idiot teenagers, but this book simply didn’t give me characters with enough depth to classify them as anything more than archetypes.

With YA battle dystopias being all the rage these days, I expect to see REd Rising in the theatres soon enough. While I didn’t enjoy the read, I suspect a movie could potentially give me more of the depth I was looking for.


25 Comments on “Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

  1. that’s true, I heard a lot about this one as well but I haven’t read it I confess. I think I’ll try it one day but for now I’m not that attracted.


  2. Re: movies with more depth than their books
    I thought Hunger Games fell in this category as well.

    But unlike Katniss, Darrow sounds like a boring invincible action hero. Definitely avoided.


    • The movie did a good job of capturing moments and emotions in much more pithy ways than the book did for Hunger Games. A movie has time constraints, to deal with, so some directors/writers could easily gloss over things, but there were several moments in the films that, while condensed, really hit the mark. Credit to the actors for nailing those scenes, too.


  3. I read this one before the hype train started rolling and felt much like you; good but really this is the current big thing? ANd yes, the movie rights have already been sold.


  4. I liked the book well enough, but to me it was somewhat unbalanced: too little time is devoted to Darrow’s physical transformation and behavioral training and too much to the battle between the groups, to the point that it felt too drawn out – therefore I could understand very well when you spoke of tediousness.

    Despite the flaws, though, I’m interested to see where this leads, so I’ll be following the series – unless the bothersome aspects of the story become too much even for me, that is…


  5. The beginning of the book feels so different from the rest of it. Yeah I didn’t think about that, but you’re right it is nice that those at the top have to work for it. I liked this book, but I didn’t care for Darrow either. I’m hoping he’s matured for the sequel. Red Rising would make an awesome movie!


    • I like that he put so much effort into the transformation. It was an unrealistic transformation, but at least it took time, which made it easier for me to swallow.


  6. Haha, just to be a total obstinate so and so I’m going to say I really quite liked this. I must admit that now you’ve mentioned it the first half is a little rushed. And, I liked your point about the richer people still being really tough on each other. No room for softies in the elite!
    It will be interesting to see how No.2 develops!
    Lynn 😀


  7. In all honesty I’ve been avoiding this one because of all the hype. I mean, i’m interested in it, a lot but hype tends to ruin books for me so I’ve been skeptical and just buying my time before reading it.


  8. I’d like to see one of these dystopian fight to the death style novels as an adult fiction outing rather than YA. I feel like there would be less angst (then again, maybe not) and more emphasis on political intrigue, which is something that I often find lacking in these kinds of books.


    • That was one of my problems… Darrow and the others felt a bit older at times. As I mentioned, it could be excused by Darrow’s hard life, but the moments when the teen angst is invoked, it feels forced. And of course, now that this is the In Thing, it’s growing very tiresome.


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