Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising
Series: Red Rising #1
Author: Pierce Brown
Published: January 24, 2014 by Del Rey (Random House)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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. 

hat Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought. Until the day that 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. 

Break the chains. Live for more.

Red Rising is a book that has been on my TBR for awhile now. I learned about it last year when it first came put and heard good things but never got a chance to read it. Then I was gifted a copy by my previous secret sister (thanks Elizabeth) and grabbed the audiobook for a great deal on an audible sale. So I figured with the final book in the series coming out in a few months I would give it a try and see if I liked it, and I did. It's a brutal and action-packed science fantasy with complex characters and an interesting world.
The first thing I noticed about Red Rising is the world building. Pierce Brown was able to create a subtle and interesting world that constantly had me wanting more. Like most new series, the first section was all exposition and creation of the world. With Red Rising it was the show style of world building so I was constantly curious to find out more about what was happening. It drew me into the story and kept me engaged despite the fact that I was often confused. Then as the book unfolded and we learned more details about the world I was absolutely hooked. What I especially liked about it was the foundation in Roman culture. Everything at the Institute had references to ancient heroes and leaders, not to mention battle tactics and fights that would make even the best Gladiators stand and take notice. And because the book took place on Mars, that seemed to perfectly fit. It's such a genius idea because the planets already are named after Roman gods. The world was definitely one of the most interesting things about the book.

But so much of the world building and plot development also dealt with political intrigue which I always. This is one of those books that walks the line between science fiction and dystopia. Much of the book is based on the idea of a revolutionary who is trying to overthrow a corrupt society from within. You have this specific caste structures and those at the top oppressing those at the bottom so there were a lot of those underlying themes of society and control. But first the MC must attend a brutal training academy where the struggle for power had real consequences. The stuff at the Institute in particular was complex and brutal. It felt like real warfare, like an actual battle between houses fighting for control. I often forgot that it was a school and not the actual society. It was fantastic and action-packed and had me cringing from time to time because of the brutality. If you wanted to call this book Hunger Games in space that would be a really good explanation.

The plot wasn't the only brutal and complex thing about this book, the characters too had so much going on. Within this world you had to be a little bit odious to survive. So many of the characters here did morally circumspect things the question is were they for the greater good. With the main character of Darrow you always felt he had society and the people's best interest at heart but he often had to make tough decisions. He was a really great leader for that reason and it was nice to see him develop within that role throughout the book. That's one of the reasons that made his such a great revolutionary and the kind of main character I enjoy. I liked seeing his development throughout the book and seeing where he goes in future books. But so many of the other characters were just as dubious. It was hard to decide who was an antagonist and who wasn't. I really liked a few secondary characters especially Mustang and Sevro. The characters here were so complex and another thing about the book that I really enjoyed.

One thing I will say is that I didn't particularly like the audiobook. I switched between the physical book and audio and I definitely preferred the book. The action fit perfectly with the book but I didn't love the narrator. He had a really strong accent which isn't immediately a turnoff for me but so many of the characters just sounded the same and it was hard to follow who was speaking throughout most of the book. I would recommend that if you are going to read this one maybe read it instead of listening to the audio or if you do want to listen then try a sample first.

On the whole I did really enjoy Red Rising. It was an action-packed read with lots of political intrigue and mystery, an interesting world that had me curious and questioning, and complex characters that walked the line between good and evil.

I give Red Rising by Pierce Brown 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of science fiction or epic fantasies, especially if you after looking for something that is more brutal and with characters that are on the darker side of the spectrum. I'm excited to see where this series goes.

Have you read Red Rising? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. YES!! So happy to hear you loved this one! I got an eARC of it via NG and also got approved for Golden Son, so I binge read them and ADORED THEM!! Now I have the hardcovers and I'm planning to re-read them in preparation for the final book! Given how twisty the books are, I want to have them fresh in my mind to not miss anything!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I've been eyeing it for ages, so now I'm even more excited to get to it. This seems right up my street, so I really hope to get to it soon. Thanks for this review! ♥

    Denise | The Bibliolater

  3. I've been recommended this book so many times! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I feel like I haven't read an epic fantasy in a long time!