Books · Reviews

Review: Red Rising

Title: Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown

Genre: Dystopian, Sci-fi

Pages: 382

Published: 2014

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Format: Paperback

Acquired: Bought in my local bookstore

Rating: ★★★★★ [4.5]

Book Blurb:: The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable-and inhabited- for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down at Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, 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.


I didn’t really know what to expect with this book. I don’t usually read a lot of sci-fi (fantasy all the way, baby), but I really liked the premise of the story when I bought it. I had seen a lot of people loving this series, so I was keen to see whether it lived up to its hype.

Red Rising is the first book in a trilogy. As the blurb says, the book focuses on Darrow, who is a Red and part of the lowest caste of the society of Colours. He has always been told that he, along with the other Reds, are pioneers on Mars who are working to the death underground to make the planet habitable for the rest of the population on a dying Earth. Although the work was hard, Darrow was happy with his life and his marriage; he accepted life as it was, knowing it was for the greater good.

However, when a tragic event strikes within his community, Darrow is offered help from a rebel group, which is where he learns the truth about a society of humans on Mars’ surface. The planet is habitable and run by a caste of Golds; who take advantage of all other Colours to make their lives as easy as possible. The rebel group, Ares, offer Darrow a unique (although not entirely pleasant) opportunity to infiltrate the Golds and destroy them from the inside. To do this he is going to have to start from the bottom, and rise to the top in their command school. However this school is perilous, and he will have to do whatever it takes to reach his goal.


This book did have a slow start before Darrow found out the truth of Mars, but I must admit that this book was so gripping!! There were so many twists and turns, and everything was so ruthless that I honestly couldn’t predict what was going to happen next. This made it so so addictive and I couldn’t wait to get stuck back in to Darrow’s progress through the command field warfare tests.

One thing I will say is that this story doesn’t delve too much into the emotion-side of things… well, except rage? It mainly focuses on tactical thinking and the consequences of everyone’s actions. Now you know me, I’m a sucker for book that describes emotions well and makes my heart feel like I’m the one in the story. If I don’t get good emotions in a book then I tend to get grumpy- I mean all of my reviews tend to rate a book based on how immersive my heart finds it.

Me when I don’t feel enough emotion… Source:


However, for this book I’m actually going to make an exception. What it lacks in strong emotions it makes up for with strategy and intrigue. I’m useless at politics and strategic planning- both in real life and when reading fiction- so I loved that this book can explain why every decision is good or bad. It helped me keep up with everything and get a lot more invested in the story.


There may not be many emotional scenes, but my gosh there was so much action! Red Rising is a very fast-paced novel with betrayals, gore, real class warfare and downright dirty tactics, there definitely wasn’t a dull moment during the tests, that’s for sure. I can’t believe how ruthless it got, and I just couldn’t stop reading. One thing I will say though, why is Pierce Brown so obsessed with everyone pissing on each other? It is a very testosterone-orientated setting, but there were so many comments about pissing on each other it was a bit strange.

I was very shocked at all the revelations that kept happening, especially towards the end! The finale with the ArchGoverner is also very interesting, even if I did kinda feel like it was a betrayal of values? I’m interested to see how Darrow can progress forwards though in the rest of the series, I couldn’t stop myself rushing out to buy the other books as soon as I was done with this one! 😛


I did enjoy Darrow as a main character. He went through a hell of a lot at the beginning, and while he did accomplish so so much in the Gold tests despite his lack of official training (minus the convenient sci-fi tech), I thought he was a really solid character. He may be super strong and clever, but not everything went right for him, which is really important. It was really exciting to see him mature and think of the bigger picture, rather than always giving in to his emotions 🙂

The other character I wanted to quickly mention was the elusive Jackal. He got so much hype during the book and was painted to be the ultimate enemy/frenzied killer, but in reality he fell a bit short? His big reveal was definitely a surprise, but I was completely underwhelmed (even more so at the end of the story OH MY GOD). I was expecting a really terrifying and manipulative character, but he felt more like a wet blanket. He may redeem himself in the other books, who knows?


Despite a few little comments I thoroughly enjoyed Red Rising. It was really fast-paced and full of action. I loved the strategic element of it and I honestly couldn’t put it down. This book has been likened as a cross between Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games or, as Fantasy Fiction put it at the beginning of this paperback:

“The Hunger Games for Hunger Games fans who have grown up.”

I completely agree. There was such a strong Hunger Games vibe, but this felt a lot more ruthless. It was a very addictive book and I am pleasantly surprised! Cannot wait to get stuck in to the second book in the series now 🙂


Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Rating: star-1star-1star-1star-1star-1-5



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