Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on March 18, 2016 | 10 Comments

Review: Red Rising by Pierce BrownRed Rising by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Published by Del Rey (1.28.2014)
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
382 pages
Source: Library

4.5 Stars

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.

My thoughts

I am right. He is wrong. I am the spark that will set the worlds afire. I am the hammer that cracks the chains.

What the slag made me wait so gorydamn long to read this book?! This book was awesome! It totally took me by surprise. I’ve been seeing it around everywhere since it came out, have witnessed many readers raving about how amazing it is, and still I put off reading it. Why? I don’t even know. I guess I was worried I wouldn’t like it, or it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Oh how wrong I was! I am so glad I finally decided to pick it up! (And now I don’t have to wait for any books to come out!)

The world is incredible and cinematic. This book NEEDS to be a movie! (It’s been optioned. So here’s to hoping.) This book is pretty much like the Hunger Games, with Colors instead of Districts, Darrow instead of Katniss, and it takes place on Mars. Yes, Mars. It’s very similar to the Hunger Games, yet it’s utterly unique. I loved the concept!

I have to admit that the world was a bit overwhelming in the beginning. Terms are kind of chucked at your face with little to no explanation – it’s submersion. You’re thrown into the world and left to figure it out for yourself. I think that is the one complaint I have about this book. I struggled in the beginning with all of the terminology – Helldiver, pulseBlade, holoCan, the Flush, genAlt…there’s so many more. There’s a lot of made up words, not a lot of explanation. Even now, after finishing it, I can’t really grasp the way the armory and weapons look/work.

The Color system was epic! There are tons of different Colors, and they all serve their purpose. The system was quite intriguing. The only thing that threw me off, though, was the fact that all the Colors’ hair and eyes were actually the color of their Color. Hmm. Golds had gold eyes and gold hair, Reds had red eyes and red hair, etc. That aspect made it almost fantasy, despite it being a dystopian. How did they get crazy eye and hair colors?! It made it farfetched as a futuristic, realistic dystopian. (And how to Obsidians have 8 fingers and Violets 12 fingers?! Weird…) But it sure was cool!

In her eyes, I see my heart. In her breath, I hear my soul. She is my land. She is my kin. My love.

The love dynamic between Darrow and Eo in the beginning is both beautiful and tragic. He held her in such high regard, it was absolutely heartbreaking when she was killed. (I don’t consider that spoilery since it happens so early and is in the synopsis, hopefully that doesn’t ruin anything for anyone!) I love that everything he does is in her memory. I also love that romance has little to no part in this story. Other than the very beginning, and an almost part in the end, there is none. View Spoiler »

I will say that the prose is kind of dry, although it’s very well written. And despite being rather stiff and formal, it didn’t create any detachment for me. That surprised me, to be honest! There’s a kind of intensity to this story that grabs you, leaves you wanting more. I was hooked from the very first page! It’s also pretty violent, which I loved. INTENSE.

The characters kind of sneak up on you, too. You don’t realize how attached you are to them until their lives are at stake! I love how real they all felt. Each character had their own dimension and personality.

You are the wolf that howls and bites. I am the mustang that nuzzles the hand.

Darrow was such a badass! He has moments where the lines start to blur, where things aren’t so black and white, and I liked that. It made him flawed and relatable. But he still sticks to his purpose, even when he can’t see things so clearly. He does bad things, but he is still good. He is respectable and admirable, a just ruler. Someone to look up to. But he’s not afraid to kick ass and take names when necessary. I liked him a lot!

PAX. Ohh, Pax. I went from “this dude is a freaking brute” to “holy shit Pax is terrifying” to “holy crap I kind of freaking love Pax.” When he threatened the Jackal in a snarky (and hilarious) manner, I realized how attached I’d become to him. Because it totally snuck up on me. View Spoiler »

Favorite quote

“Things are set in stone. Things are well ordered. Reds at the bottom, everyone else standing on our backs. Now you’re looking at me and you’re realizing that we don’t bloodydamn like it down there. Red is rising, Mickey.”

Overall Assessment

Plot: 4.5/5
Premise: 5/5
Writing style: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
World-building: 4/5
Pace: 5/5
Feels: 4.5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5

Jessi (Geo)

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10 responses to “Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

  1. I am reading this one right now. The world is kind of overwhelming me, just like you said. It was kind of boring me too. I am just at the point of Eo’s death and it is starting to get a bit more interesting. I am hoping it gets much better. Great review.

  2. I’ve seen this everywhere also but have been thinking about reading it. That first sentence of yours though, “What the slag made me wait so gorydamn long to read this book?”, that just decided me. Nice review.

  3. I am so glad to hear you loved this book. I just started the sequel and right away the terminology is confusing me, but drawing me in all at the same time. Great review!

  4. I was so happy to see this review in my inbox this morning! I actually have this book sitting on my shelf right now – i recently got it from the library. I plan to read it soonish… I’m excited about it but I’ve also heard mixed things. It sounds right up my alley though, and know that you enjoyed it so much definitely makes me more excited to pick it up!

  5. My co-blogger Liza loves these books so I know I have to read this one at some point. I think I tried a long time ago but I didn’t really get into it. I want to try again though since I’m a lot more into sci-fi recently.

  6. danielle hammelef

    Great review! It sounds like the characters and world in these books are well done and amzing and unique. thanks for the heads up about the terminology so I don’t give up on an exciting series.

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