Review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Red Rising
By: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Release Date: January 28th 2014

An electronic copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future 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 joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

The Story:
I really had no idea what to expect going into this novel. I hadn’t heard of Pierce Brown and only knew that the story was classified as dystopian. I loved the cover and thought the summary had a lot of potential.

Red Rising starts off brilliant. I was awed with the gruesome world Brown created; it was harsh, realistic and gritty. We are introduced to the Reds, the lowest caste in a futuristic society. The Reds dig underground on Mars and live short, brutal lives. Brown’s words were vibrant, intense and spell-binding. I was immediately invested in Darrow and his story. I was sure Red Rising was on track to being one of my all time favorite books.

Sadly, around 30% the story took a major turn that switched the tone up and honestly felt like a completely different book. The summary supplies us with the knowledge that Darrow leaves his underground life to join forces with those above to retaliate and resist the upper castes–once these elements begin the feel of the books changes.

Many, many pages were dedicated to battle strategy, fighting and very gruesome deaths. All were written very well but overall I wish this section had been edited down so that the pacing felt faster.

The Characters:
Brown was able to create a very unique cast of characters with none of them being either good or evil. Each character had their faults though slivers of good shone through in certain moments. I enjoyed this juxtaposition of good and bad in each and found it made me interested in all the characters. The dialog was impressive since each character’s speech felt very different from the others.

The main character, Darrow, went on an intense personal journey throughout the novel. Though I was able to empathize and root for him I never connected to him as thoroughly as I would have liked.  Something about the way the majority of the novel was written kept me at arms length and I felt that I was watching things play out rather than living through them. I can’t pin-point why exactly but I think this is why that middle section dragged some for me personally.

Final Thoughts:
There is no doubt that Pierce Brown is a skilled writer and story teller. Red Rising is gruesome, gritty and horrific yet was able to get me pondering the questions Brown posed in his future society. Though the majority of the book felt a bit slow to me I was still able to find interest in the details and personal journey of the protagonist. The story’s stellar start gripped me leaving me unable to not know how Brown will manage to tie in the loose strands of his main story arc.

Kim at The Midnight Garden reviewed this title as well and was able to capture the atmosphere incredibly well. Head over to The Midnight Garden to read her thoughts.


  1. says

    I just reviewed this today too! It looks like we had pretty similar opinions. Not perfect but a promising debut that left me with a lot of pondering and questions. I’m a total sucker for lots of “wtf?” and depravity, though, so I could forgive the flaws!

    • says

      Oh! I’ll have to go over and read your review 🙂 It had many ‘wtf’ moments! I’m very curious where Brown will take book 2. Thank you for stopping by!

    • says

      I’m very curious what you’ll think of this one Melanie. I was disappointed that the pace slowed for me but when looking at the book overall I had to admit it was pretty good.

  2. says

    Never heard of this one before but it sounds interesting, especially the “very gruesome deaths” part 😀
    Will put that on my wishlist right now. Too bad it’s another start of a series. I wanted to stop starting new ones and finish all the others I already started 😀

  3. says

    Books like this are why I tend to request so many review copies…you just never know when a book’s buzz is going to reach fever pitch, and I hate missing out. Like now. Why, oh, why, did I not click the widget invite? WHYYYYYYY???? 😛 Even though it took a weird turn for you, you still seemed to have enjoyed it, which seems to be the general consensus. Gonna have to pick this one up after all, it seems. 🙂

    • says

      I know the feeling! That’s why I request everything too. I just know I’ll miss out on something awesome. But we can always get it from the library or buy it when it releases. I wonder what you’ll think of Red Rising when you read it. I’ll love to hear your thoughts.

  4. says

    This sounds like a different take on dystopian which I think I’ll enjoy! Even more, it sounds like something I can push on the bf to read together during our next vacation!
    Great review Kristen, now I know I can expect some of the story to feel a little long on the middle section and still power through it.

    • says

      I can’t wait to hear what you both think of it! It’s really an interesting take on dystopian though it does hit on some of the classic elements.

  5. says

    Great review Kristen 😀 I’m glad you mostly loved this book; sorry you had a few issues with it, though. I too think I will like this book. Well. I hope 😀 Have pre-ordered it, so we’ll see. <3 Anyway. I do like gruesome parts, hih 🙂

    • says

      If you can get over any romantic aspects being ignored then you’ll enjoy it I think. I honestly have trouble predicting what the reaction to this book will be wide spread…either people will love it or not. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

  6. says

    So glad to see a high rating, and one that isn’t 5 stars. lol Everybody has been RAVING about this one and it’s nice to hear a difference of opinion. Will hopefully be getting to this one soon!

    • says

      You know, I was very mixed while reading it. I could see the appeal of Brown’s writing midway but I was bored for a good amount of it so that was tough to ignore. But when I look back at the story arc and the set up for the additional books I have to admit that there is vast potential for the series. I also think it’s one of those books that might drag some but will have big pay-out for sticking with it as things progress.

  7. says

    Do you think there’s any chance that the next book would focus on someone other than Darrow? Perhaps not, considering the series is titled “Red Rising.” But I would love to learn more about one of the many other colors, aside from Red or Gold, and by the end of the first book, I was thoroughly bored with Darrow.

    You are so right that this feels like two completely different books. I don’t understand how or why these two pieces came together to make one book. If Darrow had been a Gold all along, the latter 70% would still have worked.

  8. says

    Red Rising definitely didn’t sound like a ME book, but it wound up being one of my favorite books I read last year. I completely agree about the pacing and the plot switch – though the first 30% was less interesting to me, personally.

    • says

      I think this book will be hit or miss with people and I’m not going to be able to predict who will like it or not. I think it’s so interesting that the first 30% was less interesting to you! I can’t wait to see more people’s opinions.

  9. says

    “Many, many pages were dedicated to battle strategy, fighting and very gruesome deaths. All were written very well but overall I wish this section had been edited down so that the pacing felt faster.”
    As soon as you said that Red Rising is a dystopia book and I read that sentence that you wrote above, I automatically thought of The Hunger Games, but a bloodier version.
    And aww, I hate it when books take a drastic turn. D:
    At least it looks like you still enjoyed reading this one Kristen! (:

    • says

      Yep, drastic tone shifts really pull me out of the story. It was very gory for sure and had elements of The Hunger Games for sure. Felt more Battle Royale though to be honest since it was grittier. Do you think you’ll read this one or skip it?

  10. says

    I agree that the middle dragged a little, but I was totally blown away on how amazing it was! The writing…aw, gosh, I just fell in love. Eo made me cry. I didn’t like much it felt like another version of The Hunger Games though. 🙁 I’m a THG fan FTW, so anything that remodels it I get a little annoyed about. But this was definitely a top read for me. 🙂

    • says

      I’ll have to check out your review once it publishes! I can’t wait to read your thoughts on it. I think there will be a lot of variation in reader’s opinions.

  11. says

    “Something about the way the majority of the novel was written kept me at arms length and I felt that I was watching things play out rather than living through them.”

    This exactly! I was very impressed with the book overall too, but I don’t think I ever felt that personal connection to it. And since I’ve had some time to step away from it and read other things, I’ve noticed that I’m not too desperate to pick up the sequel. I don’t think I could pin-point why either.

    • says

      It’s frustrating to not be able to pin-point that exact reason. Glad I’m not alone though in it. I do want to read the sequel in hopes that some of the story from the beginning plays out.

  12. says

    Oh man, you loved this, too! I only skimmed your reaction but the 4 stars is a great sign. Kim reviewed it for us as well, and between you two and the rest of the blogging world, there’s a ton of buzz over this one. I’m only a few chapters in, but definitely intrigued and enjoying it so far. 🙂

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • says

      I am really curious what you’ll think about it Wendy. It’s the type of book I want to talk about and see everyone’s opinions about because I can’t predict what the overall reaction will be towards it.

  13. Michelle{bookhangovers} says

    I can’t wait for this book! I’ve already pre-ordered it and tweeted about it. Even got a couple tweets back from mr. Brown himself 😉

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