Book Review: Red Rising – Pierce Brown


Title: Red Rising (2014)
Series: Red Rising – Book 1
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Extent: 382 pages
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

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.


It took me ages to actually pick up Red Rising! Everyone and their mother have recommended it to me, and while I was intrigued, science fiction is one of those genres that I’m not always in the mood in. Red Rising, though, blew me out of the water and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner.

This is the story of Darrow, a miner who lives on Mars digging elements that will one day help humankind survive on the planet. He is married to a girl named Eo and has generally accepted his fate until one day, he discovers that his whole life has been a lie and sets out to essentially revolutionise the world.

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free. That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

She kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

If you think this would be an Ordinary Joe-saves-the-world type of plot, well, you’re not entirely wrong. There’s nothing particularly heroic about Darrow, and he’s very much a reluctant hero, which actually makes the story pretty interesting. He doubts himself a lot, he questions his motivations, and he’s sometimes a coward. Is he a great protagonist? Absolutely.

But more than that, the world-building was excellent, you guys. Society is structured differently here, with a strict hierarchy where everyone has a job that is outlined very clearly. On the bottom of the pyramid are the Reds, Darrow’s kind, and on the top are the Golds, who are basically gods, with their ultra-cool techy gadgets and altered physiques. To put it simply: it was pretty damn cool, and I freakin’ loved it.

“Steel is power. Money is power. But of all the things in all the worlds, words are power.”

I was warned that this would be slow, but I’m not sure that was the case. I fell into the story immediately, and it was instead the second part that lost my attention a little bit, likely because of personal reasons (i.e. I was up until 3 AM and basically losing sleep), but overall Red Rising was gripping, thrilling, and pretty damn addictive. I’ll be picking up the next books for sure. 🙂

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