Review: Red Rising

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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 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.


Will probably contain minor spoilers.


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So on Twitter, @DateABook is holding a Red Rising readalong, which is where everybody gets a copy of Red Rising (the eBook was on sale for a dollar or so when it started) and reads specific up to specific chapters or parts of the book before the deadline FOR that part of the book. It basically means rather than flailing about the cliffhangers, etc, alone and in your bedroom, you can flail WITH other people on Twitter! I wonder what the collective noun for a flailing group of people is? (Also, if I flail with other bookworms on Twitter, does this make me social? Can I answer “Strongly Agree” for the question “I am a social person” on a survey? Nah probably not. Still an antisocial carrot.)

Quick summing up of the book before I start ranting about other peoples’ opinions on the book. Darrow is a Red, one of the poor people who live underneath the surface of Mars, mining precious Gas that will one day allow the planet to be transformed into another Earth. When that day comes, the rest of the human civilization will flee the barren wasteland that is now Earth, and come to live on Mars. The Reds will be held in highest esteem!

But then. Darrow discovers that that day has already come. The rest of Earth is already on the surface of Mars. Gorging themselves on posh food while the Reds starve. Using what the Reds have worked so hard for. (Similar to the Capitol, with surgical enhancements, people with 6 fingers, etc).

With the help of a rebel group – the Sons of Ares – Darrow goes through a major Beauty and the Geek transformation, going from a scrawny Red to a powerful Gold. Then he infiltrates the school. But this is not a normal school where the children sit around reading books and learning their bloddydamn ABCs. This is a school where people kill each other. The school where only the strongest survive. So then it all goes a little Hunger Games-esque, when hundreds of children are thrown into an arena – not to kill each other – but to take power and become the only House left standing. (They’re grouped into Houses, such as House of Mars, House of Apollo, House of Minerva, etc) They can do this by making people of other houses “join” their house as slaves, through branding them on the forehead.

Phew. Recap over. Sorry for minor spoilers but it’s literally impossible not to review this book without spoiling a tiny bit of it.

I feel like some of the “bigger” reviewers on Goodreads or so (won’t mention any names but you can go see for yourself on the Red Rising Goodreads page, URL down below) are just looking for things to fault. They’ve said that the main character, Darrow is too perfect, hence them giving it 1 star. They say that the arena sequence was just a mashup of drama, excitement, killing and action. But wait. Isn’t that a good thing? I thought that sounded more like a complement. They’ve said that there’s really only one character, the main one – Darrow, and all the other characters are not really shown. But wait. How many people are in the arena again? And how many people are in his house again? And how many people does he meet again? And how many people does he consider his friends again? Whoops. My bad, I didn’t count them. Sorry. 

Darrow is not perfect. That’s like saying Katniss Everdeen is perfect. OMG SHE’S A PERFECT SHOT WITH A BOW AND ARROW WTF WHY ARE YOU SO PERFECT I HATE YOU. This could even be extended to sexism. Just coz Darrow is a male who is good with his fingers DOES NOT MEAN THAT HE IS PERFECT. Katniss Everdeen literally never, ever misses a shot. Do I see people calling her perfect? She literally never, ever loses a fight. Do I see people calling her perfect? NO. Darrow IS NOT perfect. His fingers and flexible and dexterous BECAUSE OF his time in the mines, operating machinery that NEEDS quick fingers. THIS IS ESTABLISHED, PEOPLES. YES. IT’S ESTABLISHED THAT HIS FINGERS ARE QUICK BECAUSE OF HIS TIME IN THE MINES. THAT’S WHY HIS FINGERS ARE QUICK AND HE CAN SOLVE PUZZLES AND USE KNIVES OR WHATEVER. IT’S THROUGH HARD PRACTICE. ONCE AGAIN, THIS IS ESTABLISHED. SORRY IF YOU DIDN’T PICK UP ON THAT.

And again, he doesn’t win every single fight *ahem*CatpissEverclean*ahem*. HE LOSES. AND HE GETS BACK UP. HE SHOWS RESILIENCE. He rises again, and he’s Red, hence the title Red Rising. HE IS NOT PERFECT. JUST BECAUSE HE’S STRONGER THAN HE WAS BEFORE DOES NOT MEAN HE IS PERFECT. Ugh.

I will however agree with one specific person on one specific thing they said: the fact that the first 25% of the book was quite hard to follow. There was a lot of setting up and worldbuilding and heaps of Proper nouns with awkwardly capitalised words. Like drillClaw or whatever. It was TOO MUCH FOR MY BANANA BRAIN! But continue past the first 10% and YES you will love it AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT PURPOSELY TRYING TO GIVE A BAD REVIEW.

There is more than a healthy dose of action and gore, and with a touch of magic realism, this book is DEFINITELY one to get. To sum, this quote from the acknowledgements page says it all: “To reader, you’re going to bloddydamn love these books”. Book 2 is out now, book 3 coming Feb2016.


Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10


Red Rising is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.


The Info:

  • Title: Red Rising
  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Del Ray Books, Random House (January 28th, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN10: 0345539788
  • URL: Goodreads
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10 thoughts on “Review: Red Rising

  1. I love this book, I wish I’d known about the readalong before, I may have joined.
    I honestly like this book better than The Hunger Games, I just felt everything; the characters, the world, and the history, had been so much more developed. Though like possibly everyone I struggled to get through the first part, but once the action started I didn’t want to stop reading.

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  2. I really enjoyed this book too! It was everything that I enjoyed about Hunger Games, with the dystopian setting, the underdog rising up, the class differences, and the Battle Royale style arena, but it still managed to be very unique. I haven’t read the second one yet, but only because I’m waiting for the third to come out before I do.

    (And I completely agree with your commentary on other GR reviewers. It sounds like some people are just looking for a reason to complain about a book!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG I FEEL YOU. Like. I was chatting with @DateABook on Twitter, and they’re like: “Don’t read the second one too quickly, we hear there’s a massive cliffhanger” and now I’m so TORN. IT’S LIKE. TO READ OR NOT TO READ, THAT IS THE QUESTION. ARGHGHGHGHHGG. REMIND ME TO NEVER EVER START AN EPIC FANTASY/SCI-FI SERIES AGAIN HALF-BAKED. PLEASE PIERCE. WRITE FASTER.

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      1. But the third one comes out soon (ish), so it’s not too long to wait! I hate having long periods in between books, though… but I definitely know what you mean because sometimes the hype for a book is so high that you can’t resist, or you love an author so much and you would rather torture yourself afterwards than wait another minute!

        Liked by 1 person

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