Red Rising by Pierce Brown Review: Brutal, bloody and glorious

Red Rising by Pierce Brown Review: Brutal, bloody and gloriousRed Rising by Pierce Brown
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 28 January, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Source: Won
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository


The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow 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..

The hype is warranted – Red Rising completely and utterly blew me away with the strength and fire of the main character, advanced war and army tactics and the extensive world building of clans who inhabit Mars.

Darrow is a Red Helldiver, who works in the mines beneath the surface of Mars. When his wife Eo, sings a song of a revolution, she is brutally hung and made into a martyr. Darrow is turned into a Gold, those who live on the surface of Mars and inhabit the rest of the planet to their bidding. Golds are superior in every way, from their appearance, to their strength and wisdom. The Golds enter a war game called the Institute, where those who emerge victorious will be selected for the highest ranking roles in society. Others will perish in the cruel game that is the Institute.

Red Rising revealed a world that was both futuristic and primal in nature. The technology, weapons and armour used in war are powerful, rewarding the giver with additional powers such as the HoverBoot, the invisibility cloak, and more. The war itself was vicious in nature, as those who rise to the top of the army cut off people’s food sources, murder other players of the game, pillage and rape and take others into slavery. I couldn’t wrap my head around why the Golds, supreme creatures of the planet who have a life of leisure and comfort, would choose to participate in such a cruel game resulting in death, slavery and starvation. It was a cruel mockery of the other colours who don’t have a choice of what they have to do, and those superior choose to throw it all away.

“You do not follow me because I am the strongest. Pax is. You do not follow me because I am the brightest. Mustang is. You follow me because you do not know where you are going. I do.” – Darrow

Darrow is a vicious and fiery character who learns the tactics of war quickly. Eo’s sacrifice for him, and the hope of his people on his shoulders lead him to a single goal – to become the Primus of the House of Mars, and rise to the ranks of the superior Golds. He isn’t the smartest, he isn’t the strongest, but he certainly is the most driven towards achieving his goal. Unlike the others competing to be the Primus, like Cassius and Titus, Darrow knows how to gain people’s loyalty and motivate his men. It is this resolve that drives him to his final victory, and the story is exhilarating and intense.

It took me two weeks to read Red Rising, because of it’s sheer intensity. There is a lot happening on the battlefield, as Darrow becoming a leader was not an easy journey. There will be allies, some of which will change allegiance during the course of the game. There will be enemies, some which are obvious and others unknown to the players. And there will be betrayals, secrets and manipulations because everyone is gunning to win.

Move over Hunger Games clones, for Red Rising is THE must read dystopian/sci-fi book and it is brutal, bloody and glorious.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

56 Comments

  1. Yay! Glad that the hype worked out for you, Jeann! There is endless praise for this one–though my co-blogger was the minority and actually did not like it at all. Will be planning on reading this one sometime in the future!

    Great review, Jeann! <33

  2. I'm definitely not shoving THG out the way, hehe, ;) buuuut, I do so LOVELOVELOVE Red Rising! I read it back in October, so there was literally nooo one else reading it. And I was very lonely in my fandom all by myself. Boohoo to me. I actually didn't even know there was a hype happening! But, omg, there are so many feels in this book. Eo! *sobs* And Darrow was absolutely amazing. Man, vicious is right. He was such a deep character and I loved everything…gah. Amazing review, Jeann!!!

    • You must be sitting back and going "now you know" already having read this book hehe. Darrow was really deep and awesome, if only other characters had that amount of depth! If the thing with Eo didn't happen, then he wouldn't have gone so far. Count me in on the fandom :)

  3. WOAH! I've read some mixed revies of this one, but after reading your review I definitely want to buy this! I think it reminds me somewhat of 1984 by George Orwell, even if it is very different in nature. Awesome review, Jeann.

  4. Yay another RED RISING fan!!! Totally one of my favorite books of the year so far. I thought that even though it was brutal and violent, it felt balanced with all the other elements. Awesome review Jeann:-)

  5. Intensity, huh? *Adds book to mental wishlist* I was actually going to buy this last week, but the price. O.o It was the price of a hardcover for a paperback. T_T I might have to get an eCopy instead! Anyway, I'm glad to know you loved this one! But I have to agree with Cait. No way I'm shoving THG out of the way, haha! I might move it over a bit if this one's really good, though. ;)

  6. Whenever I see a book / film about Mars, I always think of Total Recall lol! (Which is good, because I adore Arnie.)

    Holy crap though dude . . . two weeks?! That's crazy. It's brilliant to hear that dystopia is making a comeback and trying something new, rather than the same-old-same-old stuff that's been popping up recently! It'll be nice to read a really brutal, gritty book for a change, rather than a romance dressed up as dystopia :D

  7. So many people loved this book! I seriously need to get to it soon. I love that they all live on Mars. And the author sounds like he knew what he was doing. It seems action-packed, brutal and bloody ; exactly how a dystopian should be! Great review, Jeann.

  8. I love driven characters who aren't the smartest/bravest/best character ever. It makes them more realistic and easier to connect with :) The world-building and concept sounds really interesting! Betrayals, enemies, manipulation: oh yeah!

  9. Yay, you liked it, you liked it! I'm so happy you loved this Jeann. This one also blew me away when I got an ARC of it last year. I loved the narration, the brutality, the epicness… all of it were so awesome it sent countless shivers down my spine. So are we going to have fangirly moments soon? :P

  10. Whohoo!! Giselle and Lauren both adored this book and I'm glad this was a hit in your eyes as well. I find the concept to be extremely awesome and intriguing and even though I'm not sure this is for me (because exactly what you said: sheer intensity, the complexity and the power moves etc) it's just.. yeah. A tad too much for me to tackle I think, but I love love love the sound of this book still. So happy you enjoyed, Jeann:)

  11. Holy crap I am so freaking excited to read this now Jeann! Excellent review, this sounds so fascinating and I love books that are that intense you need to take breaks *bounces* Can't wait to get around to this!

  12. I'm so glad you think the 'hype' surrounding this book fits the bill since it blew you away. I've been dying to get my hands on this book for weeks because i just know that the intensity of it will keep my on the edge of my seat. Hopefully i FINALLY get my hands on it and devour it because i'm dying to get my hands on a copy of this book.

    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  13. I'm so glad you read it, Jeann! This book is without a doubt one of my favorites this year. I couldn't make it last two weeks though. I devoured it in two sittings because I couldn't get enough.

  14. HA. WE BOTH WON THIS BOOK *fist bump*

    Okay so I've seen raving reviews for this book everywhere but I am so scared I'll be burned by the hype. I just want to love the book and I am so scared I won't. I mean, I've been looking for driven characters for a long time. I want characters who are leaders not because they are the best but because they KNOW what to do.. because that's kind of like the person I am.. so yeah.

    I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this Jeann!

    Lovely Review!! :)

  15. Ohh, this review has me absolutely itching to grab a copy now. I've seen nothing but praise for this one and it looks incredible! You know I love me some dystopian. I've added it to my Goodreads and now I'm all giddy. The paperback is $23.00, so fingers crossed that I love it just as much as you have.

    Vive la Revolution!

    Awesome review Jeann.

  16. I've never even heard of this book. But because of your review I'm going to add it to my ever growing list of books I should read. You make it sound super interesting and I love intense books.

  17. I have read other reviews that although liked the book enough, weren't happy enough with the world building when it changes to the academy for Golds.

    I'm glad to hear you loved it, though! I'll be trying to get to read it as soon as I can clear my review books pile!

    • Yeah, the world building was a bit poor in that respect. It just doesn't really make sense why Golds would want to participate in the Institute. Glad to hear you'll be reading it Pili. I think you'd enjoy it.

  18. I can't remember if I've seen Total Recall before, I know about it though. I was thinking about your comment and I thought two weeks would be quick for a lot of people, but not for us book addicts hehe! Yeah, this one is actually quite different, so I enjoyed it :)

  19. We're winning! I was exactly the same, going in hyper aware of the hype and guess what – it rworked out! I think it will work out for you Rashika, especially because Darrow describes the leader you're craving. Thank you!

  20. I loved this one too Jeann from the incredible world-building to the characters. This and Written in Red have been two of my most recent favorite first book of a series reads. I cannot wait for book two!

  21. I just returned this one to the library because I didn't have enough time to read it but now I'm really regretting that! This one sounds SO good. I also that like, although it's a engaging read, it almost needs to be read slowly. Seems like a winner! :) Glad you enjoyed it!

  22. I was wondering what you'd think of RED RISING! So happy to see you liked it. To quote your reading style post, I was a cross between Dead Rising and Need for Speed with it :D I read until my eyes burned, hah.

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