Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
"I live for the dream that my children will be born free," she says. "That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them."

"I live for you," I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."

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.

382 pages, Hardcover

First published January 28, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Pierce Brown

45 books34.6k followers
Hello. I'm Pierce Brown, the author of the Red Rising Saga, a NYT #1 bestseller.
I figured I'd write you myself than have corporate copy pasted below my totally natural author photo.

In my books you'll find stories of men and women finding their inner strength when all seems lost. You'll also find me exploring themes of love, violence, hope, and power--what it means, why people seek it, and how they hold onto it.

IG @piercebrownofficial
Twitter @pierce_brown

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
184,920 (50%)
4 stars
119,093 (32%)
3 stars
44,065 (12%)
2 stars
12,635 (3%)
1 star
6,229 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 36,568 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,953 followers
February 17, 2021
Gah!! Look at the new FairyLoot Editions I got!

UPDATE:OMG! Look at the new B&N hardback edition! I can't even people! There is some artwork inside too but the cover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I first read the book I must have been on crack, because it went from 4 stars to 5 and my favorites list! It's bloodydamn awesome! Let me just say the second time around listening to it on audio was fanfreakingtastic! The narrator nails it and there is a song in the book and a woman sings it at the end and I got freaking chills people. Chills!

I have my loves: Darrow, Sevro, Mustang, Pax, Roque. There are a few more but those are the mains.

I'm going to have to add a few spoilers with excerpts and thoughts. So up goes the big ole banner.

Darrow is a Helldiver on Mars. He lives underground digging the earth so other people can live. Oh, the things he doesn't know. His wife Eo is wonderful but she has her own agenda. Below Mars these people are mostly a family. Even though they barely get by with food, etc. The Golds barely give them anything. It's all bullsh*t but we won't go there.

The first thing you should know about me is I am my father's son. And when they came for him, I did as he asked. I did not cry. Not when the Society televised the arrest. Not when the Golds tried him. Not when the Grays hanged him. Mother hit me for that. My brother Kieran was supposed to be the stoic one. He was the elder, I was the younger. I was supposed to cry. Instead, Kieran bawled like a girl when Little Eo tucked a haemanthus into Father's left workboot and ran back to her own father's side. My sister Leanna murmured a lament beside me. I just watched and thought it a shame that he died dancing but without his dancing shoes.

On Mars there is not much gravity. So you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.

If any of the people do anything wrong they are killed. I hate the Golds so much! The evil ones at any rate.

One sad day Eo takes Darrow to a forbidden place so he can see they are living a lie. So he can see the true world. And . . . they were caught. They were both to be flogged and they were but Eo decides to sing the song of death. And what that means is it is a forbidden song and any who sing it will be hanged.

But never has Eo been more beautiful to me than in that moment. In the face of cold power, she is fire. This is the girl who danced through the smoky tav with a mane of red. This is the girl who wove me a wedding band of her own hair. This is the girl who chooses to die for a song of death.

My love, my love
Remember the cries
When winter died for spring skies
They roared and roared
But we grabbed our seed
And sowed a song
Against their greed

Down in the vale
Hear the reaper swing, the reaper swing
the reaper swing
Down in the vale
Hear the reaper sing
A tale of winter done

My son, my son
Remember the chains
When gold ruled with iron reins
We roared and roared
And twisted and screamed
For ours, a vale of better dreams

"Yes," the ArchGovernor says idly. "I have an appointment with Arcos. Hang the rusty bitch lest she continue to howl."

"Live for more," she mouths to me. she reaches into her pocket and pulls out the haemanthus I gave her. It is smashed and flat. Then loudly she screams to all those gathered, "Break the chains!"

Darrow had to pull her legs to break her neck. It was heartbreak, utter heartbreak. The jerks would never let them take down the loved ones that were hanged. They left them there to rot and then crushed them to dust when they were skeletons. Darrow would not let this happen to Eo. He took her down and buried her. As he was to be hanged for this, something else happened. He did not die. He was drugged and taken to an order of Reds that are fighting back against the system.

Darrow is turned from a Red into a Gold. This means tremendous pain that many do not live through. Changing the brain, changing the bone structure, muscle mass, eyes . . . but Darrow's body was strong even though it was weak from his living conditions.

The Elderwomen of Lykos say that when a man is bitten by a pitviper, all the poison must be drawn out of the bite, for the poison is wicked. When I was bitten, Uncle Narol left some in on purpose.

After months of healing and learning to be a Gold, Darrow is taken and given tests to see if he can get into the Golds school to become something of himself. In reality, to kill them all! Darrow passes and is picked by the House Mars and he is to fight with them against other houses. There can only be so many that win.

The boys and girls go through some horrific things. Many lose their lives. But it's so bloodydamn good! They are ruthless and do what they have to do. No, many of them don't want to do these things but they have to do it. Darrow has to do it for Eo and for the Reds and all they have lost over the years by all of the lies. Darrow is knows as the Reaper....

This is a freaking awesome book and I will read it many times. There are only a few things in the book I don't like, but there is always that!

I leave you with the full song from the book:

Listen, listen
Remember the wane
Of sun's fury and waving grain
We fell and fell
And danced along
To croon a knell
Of rights and wrongs


My son, my son
Remember the burn
When leaves were fire and seasons turned
We fell and fell
And sang a song
To weave a cell
All autumn long

Down in the vale
Hear the reaper swing, the reaper swing
the reaper swing
Down in the vale
Hear the reaper sing
A tale of winter long

My girl, my girl
Remember the chill
When rains froze and snows did kill
We fell and fell
And danced along
Through icy hell
To their winter song

My love, my love
Remember the cries
When winter died for spring skies
They roared and roared
Bur we grabbed our seed
And sowed a song
Against their greed

My son, my son
Remember the chains
When gold ruled with iron reigns
We roared and roared
And twisted and screamed
For ours, a vale
of better dreams

Down in the vale
Hear the reaper swing, the reaper swing
the reaper swing.
Down in the vale
Hear the reaper sing
A tale of winter done.

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

****Old Review****


For whatever reason I loved the first part of the book better then the last part. I thought it was going to be a cool underground Mars weird thing. I'm the weird thing, I know. =)


I loved Darrow and a lot of other characters but I never wrote any down but Darrow. Omg! I don't know what is wrong with me. Why can't I remember them, uh, because most of them I can't even pronounce, much less think of how to spell them!

I loved that Darrow was a Helldiver <--- that so doesn't sound right! He and his colony of Reds dig into Mars inner layers to get what the world needs to survive. Well, guess what? He finds out that the world don't need saving, Mars is totally livable!

There are all kinds of colors on in this world and I'm not going into all of them because they have a lot but the ones that are jerks are the Golds. (I don't like that color anyway)

By the hands of the Golds and Darrow's wife Eo's decision, Darrow's fate has been sealed for him. He is taken into the world. THE WORLD and he is changed to become a Gold and infiltrate their evilness and TAKE THEM DOWN!


Like I said in one of my updates that Darrow went through some serious Frankenstein stuff. Okay, not seriously LIKE Frankenstein but some pretty messed up stuff to turn from a Red to a Gold. Who knew?

Then he gets put into tests to get into school and hopefully get on a ship or something cool where he can be a big man to do big things. But, the kids are put through some grueling things in order to see who is going to be some of the top contenders. It was pretty messed up but life is generally messed up in one way or another.

I really hope to enjoy the rest of this trilogy. I'm interested to read what's going to happen now that Darrow is . . . well I can't tell you that, but lets just say he is within reach of the person he wants to end most in the world!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
February 7, 2014
Actual rating: 2.5
“Darrow. Come here. Come.” He grabs my shoulder and pulls me in. “Others may have failed. But you’ll be different, Darrow. I feel it in my bones.”
I'm sorry, was I supposed to feel something?

I suppose boredom is a feeling. Not a single tear was shed. Not for a single instance was a single emotion heightened. It was by no means a bad book, but the message got lost in the telling, and there is just. So. Much. Telling. The writing is fantastic, but the plot just didn't work for me. I was bored out of my mind for much of the book.

This book tries to be grand. It tries really, really hard to make a lofty, awe-inspiring political message. It read like a rousing Communist propaganda, the sort that would get a crowd of common men fired up, ready to launch an uprising to bring down the almighty ruling class that has long oppressed them.

Wait, this book is trying to make a political message? Something about freeing the oppressed? What the fuck? No. It is a story about how Darrow is better than everyone else at everything because he is The One. His life is saved by the act of God, or shall I say, the act of deus ex fucking machina every single fucking time.

It wants to be the story of a common laborer, a sheep, one who is content with his hard-working life, who is proud of the products of his toil because it supposedly means something. Darrow is the Everyman, the ordinary worker, the common man to whom we all can relate! Not.

If Darrow were a female, I would not hesitate for one millisecond to slap a "Mary Sue" label on him. He is bloodydamn perfect. An Everyman, he is not. The common man, he is not. Average, he is most definitely not. Fine, Darrow is meant to be perfect because he's the SYMBOL OF HIS PEOPLE. He's so fucking special. He was plucked from the mires of obscurity to save his people.

His perfection raises a lot of question, and this book left me largely unsatisfied.

The Bad:

Darrow: The main character is Darrow, and he is so perfect as to be improbable, unrealistic, and completely unbelievable.

Meet Darrow.

He is a 16-year old worker. He toils. A life of hardship is all he has ever known. He is a Red, the lowest social class, the dregs of society. He is an uneducated minor, and a miner (I make no apologies for the pun, I've been waiting to ues that one for ages). As the mad scientist who has been told to turn Darrow into a Gold says...
"Say we make his body perfect, there’s still one problem: we cannot make him smarter. One cannot make a mouse a lion.
That's right. Darrow is not stupid, but he is uneducated. He has not had the privilege of a life's worth of highly selective education. His body is hard, strong, but unhoned in war.

And he dares compete against the Golds, the highest echelon of Society. The strongest, the most powerful, the most intelligent.

Only Darrow dares. And he succeeds beyond anyone's wildest imagination. He is so fucking perfect, and I hate him for it. Despite a complete lack of education, he is brilliant. Just fucking brilliant.
I don’t know the math, but I know the pattern. I solve it and four more puzzles, then it changes once more in my hands, becoming a circle. Mickey’s eyes widen. I complete the circle’s puzzles and then toss him back the device. He stares at my hands while working his own twelve fingers.
“Impossible,” he murmurs.
He succeeds at everything. Lack of knowledge? Fuck that shit, just drink a fucking INTELLIGENCE TONIC AND BOOM! INSTANT GENIUS.
Before I sleep, I drink a tonic laden with processing enhancers and speed-listen to The Colors, The Iliad, Ulysses, Metamorphosis, the Theban plays, The Draconic Labels, and restricted works like The Count of Monte Cristo, Lord of the Flies, Lady Casterly’s Penance, 1984, and The Great Gatsby. I wake knowing three thousand years of literature and legal code and history.
Where was that stuff when I was cramming for my finals in school? :|

Which begs the question, if Darrow can be artificially enhanced like that, why hasn't everyone else? What makes Darrow so special that his artificial physical and mental enhancements haven't been used to make the actual Golds better than they are?

It doesn't work.

The Plot: It just plods on, and on, and on. There was not a whole lot of bad in this book except for the fact that the message got lost along the way, and it was so incredibly boring. My friends promised me it would get better at the 15% mark. They promised me it would get better at the 30% mark. I just kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and things never really inproved. The first 15% of the book had my head spinning as we are introduced to the immensely boring and confusing world building. The next 20% was better, because hey! Darrow got ripped apart and put back together. The rest of the book was like, The Hunger Games in that you pitch a ton of elite students together in to a Lord of the Flies scenario until one emerges, victorious.

Maybe. The message got somewhat lost in between the whole "Hunger Game" survival scenario at a leadership training school, the Insitute.
My name, three bars beside it now, floats nearer the Primus hand.
Cassius has risen too.
But there can be only one Primus.
There's the hardship of survival, the fight to be the victor...the, um, battle against pimples?
People remain hungry because we’ve yet to build a fire in the castle, and hygiene is quickly forgotten when two of our girls are snatched up by Ceres horsemen as they bathe in the river just beneath our gate. The Golds are confused when even their fine pores begin clogging and they gain pimples.
Seriously, I can't even tell you what the latter 25% of the book was about because it was such a confusing, boring mess.

The Good:

The Setting: I thought this was well done, despite the massive amount of infodumping without definition. If you want sci-fi, you got it. The reader is instantly immersed into the world on Mars, the underground, the mining world.

There is a tremendous amount of terms that the reader doesn't know at first. The good is that the book doesn't try to spoon-feed its readers. The bad is that OH MY GOD SO MANY TERMS WHAT THE HELL DOES IT ALL MEAN?! The first 10% of the book had my head in a tailspin.

Frysuit, helldiver, Tinpots, clawDrill, scanCrew, headTalk, randomlyCapitalizedWords, etc. It was tremendously confusing.

The good is that the setting is eventually explained. The system of castes on Mars based on colors is explained, and about damn time, too.
The Gray soldiers prowl the cities ensuring order, ensuring obedience to the hierarchy. The Whites arbitrate their justice and push their philosophy. Pinks pleasure and serve in highColor homes. Silvers count and manipulate currency and logistics. Yellows study the medicines and sciences. Greens develop technology. Blues navigate the stars. Coppers run the bureaucracy. Every Color has a purpose. Every Color props up the Golds.
The technology is slowly revealed to us. The reader has to WORK in order to understand the setting. I like that the background of the book is incorporated into the story, there is no stupid "Once Upon a Time blah blah blah" shit type of dystopian background building here.

The fact that the book takes such an easy view of randomly killing off its elite citizens was well-explained, too. I usually take offense at random killing of your best and brightest, but I have to admit that this book gave me an adequate explanation.
“And you may think it a waste of good Golds, but you’re an idiot if you think fifty children make a dent in our numbers. There are more than one million Golds on Mars. More than one hundred million in the Solar System. Not all get to be Peerless Scarred, though, eh?
Darrow's Physical Transformation: My Fair Lady to the fucking EXTREME, man. Darrow is a Red. He is trying to be a Gold, in order to achieve that, he has to undergo a very far-out sci-fi transformation process. Bones are rebuilt. Skin is peeled off. Synapses are formed. There is a TON of blood and pain. It is fucking awesome.
The agony is beyond language or comprehension. I watch videos of it afterwards to distract me from the residual pain. He uses a vibroScalpel to slice the flesh of my thigh down the middle. He parts my muscle and skin with clamps to expose the bones of my legs. Then he peels off layers of the bone with a bonepeeler and paints new layers with his improved-bone recipe.
“Someone has to dot God’s i’s.”
The Political Message: This is meant to be a political parable, and it does it quite well. I could select one of a thousand sentences in this book and plaster it onto a Communist propaganda where it would fit in place perfectly. The political message in this book is loud, clear, and well done. I said this was a rousing book, and it was. The message of inequality is so clear here. The struggles of the Reds are well-depicted. You can clearly see the injustice, the betrayal, the deceit, and I understand the hunger that Darrow felt and his desperation to make things right for his people.
“This is our bloodydamn planet.”
“Through sweat and toil it was made so,” he agrees.
“Then what will it take to take it back?”
An ambitious book, and one that many of my friends have loved.

It just didn't do the job for me.
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46k followers
February 24, 2023
4.5/5 Stars

Let’s get the two most asked questions about this book out of the way first.

1. Is this book specifically geared toward the YA audience?
No, it’s not. The only thing in this book that fits the YA genre is that Darrow’s (The MC) age starts at 16 years old in the beginning. That’s it. Everything else, the writing, plot, themes, and world-building, in my opinion, belong in the adult territory. I'd say this is a hybrid. An adult novel that can be enjoyed by both YA and adult readers.

2. Is this book really similar to The Hunger Games?
Honestly, there were a few similarities, especially during the competition. The right question, though, would be: “are they in the same league with each other?” My answer will have to be absolutely not.

I personally think putting The Hunger Games in the same league with Red Rising is a disservice to this book. Red Rising made The Hunger Games look like child's play. I’m not going to bash The Hunger Games, but in my opinion, that series is so overhyped. Oh wait, I just did.

Okay, I know that image didn’t happen in the book. Otherwise, Katniss would become Voldemort. But I think Darrow is a better protagonist in every aspect compared to Katniss. Enough about the comparison, though. I’ll get on with my review now.

The tale is told from Darrow’s first-person narrative, and it tells the story of how he tries to achieve revenge for the events that happened to him at the beginning of the book. Rage, politics, love, vengeance, sadness, hierarchy, racism, and slavery were heavily evident in the book. I’ll say this once again, this book is not specifically for the YA audience; there were rape and hints of cannibalism that I don’t think are suitable for a younger audience. Maybe it's better to call Red Rising an adult sci-fi novel accessible to both adult and mature young adult audiences.

The characters in this book were incredibly easy to get attached to. It’s only the first installment in the series, and yet, I can’t help myself but truly empathize with them from the first 70 pages. It’s difficult for me to like a sci-fi/dystopian series done from the first-person perspective. Almost every YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian book or movie I’ve read or watched consisted of angsty whiny teenagers who always went “wah wah wah I’m a monster wah wah ohhh two guys like me what to do what to do wahhh wahh!” Oh god, shut up. Eat some Pizza.

Darrow, as the main character, isn’t any of those things. He’s a complex character filled with rage for his enemies and also full of love for his people and friends. He’s not afraid to get things done when needed, and he does not fall into despair easily; he never stops trying to shape his own future by finding the strength to fight for what he believed in.

“The measure of a man is what he does when he has power.”

Conflicted with his mission and love for his new friends, I’m excited to see how Darrow will develop further. And see the progress of his relationships with the other fantastic side characters. Eo, Mustang, Cassius, Dancer, Mickey, Roque, Pax, and my favorite character of the novel—probably everyone, too—Sevro.

Picture: Sevro by Justin Wong

The positive things I mentioned above would not work for me without Pierce Brown’s engaging writing style. I absolutely loved his prose. They were easy to follow, and the pacing was bloody relentless. The book felt naturally fast-paced and utterly readable. And the words he chose were raw, full of rage, brutal, and also poignant at times. Almost every scene, whether it was superb actions, strategic planning, or even when the characters were just talking with each other, pumped my blood with an adrenaline rush. Words like hatred, vengeance, justice, and rage were often used; reading the book reminded me of Kratos from the God of War video game series.

The only minor problem I had with Red Rising was the world-building. Don’t get me wrong, the world-building was great, and Brown managed to create a truly atmospheric world. However, the area where the competition took place feels like Earth, even though the setting is on Mars. I also think some of the terminologies would’ve benefited from additional detail. There were terms and devices mentioned that weren’t explained clearly; it’s up to the reader to fit in the pieces of the terminologies with their respective imagination. And this can take a bit of time to get used to.

There’s a super high chance that this series will go down as one of my favorite series of all time depending on the sequels. Red Rising was already fantastic to me, and I truly enjoyed reading it. However, everyone who has read and loved the series told and reminded me that the sequels were superior, which bloodydamn excites me. Without the minor issues I mentioned, this book would’ve been a 5-stars read. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a great sci-fi dystopian story that’s not plagued by the infamous infuriating YA tropes. Filled with an amazing plot, brutal actions, a well-paced storyline, fantastic characterizations, and believable development;,Red Rising was a fantastic start to a sci-fi series. And I immensely enjoyed it.

You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Andrew W, Amanda, Annabeth, Casey, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Elias, Ellen, Ellis, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jesse, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Kristina, Lana, Leigh, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Michael, Mike, Miracle, Nanette, Neeraja, Nicholas, Reno, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Shawn, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 11 books7,640 followers
April 15, 2018
*I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review and honestly? I BLOODYDAMN LOVED IT*

You think you’ve read a dystopian book? Quit lying to yourself. That was teenage angst wrapped in a shiny new package, cashing in on the popularity of this genre.

You think you’ve read about evil futuristic regimes? Nope, those were one dimensional villains that will look cartoony compared the assholes in this book.

You think you’ve seen hurt and suffering and despair and heartache? You’ve seen nothing.

You think you’ve seen to the very depths of the depravity mankind is capable of? YOU’VE SEEN NOTHING.

I won’t call this book “The Next Hunger Games” and nor should anyone else, in my opinion. But I’m sure some degenerate in a PR office will think it’s a great idea. My advice? Don’t listen to that douchebag. To do so would be insulting to Red Rising.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Hunger Games and there are a few parallels between that series and this book. Even so, this book shouldn’t be compared to anything. This book is what it is and it stands alone on a desolate field surrounded by the burning embers of its lessers because this book is just…more. It’s harder, darker, more emotional, more horrific, more…everything.

Pierce Brown, how the hell do you expect me to read something else after this? Or sit around and wait for the next installment? Are you writing it? Is it already done? Is it half done? Are you in need of an amateur editor??? I’m the girl for the job! Pick me! MEEEEEE!!!!

FYI, my version of editing will be to drool over whatever you produce and provide zero constructive feedback while demanding you write faster and trying to hide the intensity and frequency of my eye twitches. Also, there may be threats involving tofu for “motivational” purposes.

You probably want to know what it’s about, right? Okay, I’ll try to settle down.

The story takes place on Mars, inside a futuristic colony. Our main character, Darrow, is the youngest Helldiver in memory and he operates a massive and massively complicated drill-like piece of machinery deep within the sulfurous bowels of the planet. He’s a Red, the caste of people relegated to living like moles.

When we meet him, he’s under the impression that he and all of his caste are digging Helium3 so that one day the surface above will be hospitable for future generations. Even though he’s just sixteen, he’s married and madly in love with his equally young bride, Eo. Hearing about her through his perspective, you understand why. She’s vibrant and beautiful and charming and witty and fierce, the sunshine that lights up their subterranean world. Because the book blurb mentions this, I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything by saying that when she dies, a little piece of you may die too, drained away with the tears that will spill from your eyes. What will bubble up to fill the gap it leaves behind is a primeval part of yourself, made of vengeance and anger.

This monstrous little piece of you is further fueled by the lies the authorities tell the Reds, by the inequality and the forced brutality you're made to bear witness to. By the time you reach the middle of the book you may find that savage part of you has taken over and that you’ve hate-morphed into a ten foot tall, scale-covered ragebeast armed with razor teeth and three inch claws made for rending the flesh of the Golds, the highest caste and the perpetrators of all these crimes. Don’t be alarmed, it happened to me too.

From the mines you watch Darrow rise, discover the truth of life on Mars, take his first shell-shocked steps on a city street and transform into something nearly as monstrous as your ragebeast. And you’re with him all the way, rooting him on, cheering his brilliance and his blood thirst. I absolutely loved his character, loved how his mind worked. And you know what else I loved about him? He’s not perfect. He’s not some born leader. He does horrific things, makes bad choices and hard decisions. But he learns from his mistakes, becomes better, stronger, smarter.

Surrounding him is a support cast of miscreants, sycophants, psychopaths, feral children, government men who think themselves gods and the rebel leaders who wait to rise up against them. None of them are one dimensional. All of them pulled some sort of emotion from me, whether it was love or hate or amusement or pity.

Pair these characters with the sweeping backdrop of a war whose participants have forgotten it is a game and you have one brutal and gorydamn epic novel.

This book is a stark foray into survival and society, into the heart of human darkness and the height of its heroism. One part dystopian, one part sci-fi and one part epic war fantasy, it transcends a conventional genre and enters the realms of AMAZEBALLS.


Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
February 20, 2016
“I am the Reaper and death is my shadow.”

2 1/2 stars. Red Rising isn't really a bad book - 2.5 stars still means halfway between "it was ok" and "I liked it", after all. And many other reviews will tell you how amazing most people found it, but I struggled to locate the magic that so many other people seem to have found within its pages.

Red Rising is considered and marketed as dystopian/sci-fi, which technically it is, but it reads with a dense wordiness that is reminiscent of high fantasy novels. This fact will only be a negative for some readers. It has the same high level of technical term usage, lengthy descriptions and a slow, plodding plot that has made me put aside many fantasy favourites.

Oh, and then there's Darrow. Khanh's description of him is hilarious and spot on, but I cannot write this review without adding something myself about why he is a Gary Stu of epic proportions.

The guy is absolutely perfect in that despairingly average way that seems to be the defining factor of YA heroes and heroines. He gets everything right, he is faultless, the story is built up around him being so good that he's able to do what everyone else cannot. And yet, he's also your average Joe in a way that I suppose is meant to make us readers relate to him.

Unfortunately, he felt like a cardboard cutout. Khanh was right, he would make a fantastic face of a revolution, but in terms of characters I can get behind, root for and care about... he wasn't doing it for me.

The reason this book does work is the real sense of tension, nastiness and drama. It's easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of the story. You get the feeling throughout that the author isn't afraid to rip your heart out, shred it, and stand laughing amid the fallen pieces. Which enabled me to read on with some interest, despite the slow-moving plot.

While there were a number of things I enjoyed, this book never managed to cross the line between "not bad" and "actually good" in my mind. Perhaps it was just too dense and slow-moving, or perhaps Darrow ruined my enjoyment... but I am surprised to see quite so many five star reviews.

One final thing I want to say is about the language. Everyone seems to love it. I have yet to read a review where the language hasn't been praised as well-written, emotive, beautiful, powerful... take your pick. But I found all the political language incredibly melodramatic.
“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.”

There was something so contrived, even scripted, about it. You know in kids' films when it gets to the climax and it looks like the bad guys are going to win? Then the hero makes a big emotional, dramatic speech about why they're going to beat the bad guys with epic music playing in the background? This whole book felt a bit like one of those speeches.

Like preachy political propaganda, spoken on a clifftop with sword pointed in the air. It made me roll my eyes more often than it made me feel inspired.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Pinterest
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 257 books409k followers
December 28, 2015
(Minor spoilers follow) Red Rising introduces us to Darrow, a sixteen-year-old miner who toils deep in the mines of Mars a few hundred years in the future. In Darrow's world, humanity has spread across the solar system, and has been organized into a strict caste system of colors, with Gold at the top and Red at the bottom. Darrow is a Red, but he is making the most of his hard life in the mines. He is good at his work. He has a beautiful wife Eo (they get married young and die young down in the mines) and though the Reds live in abject poverty, they are a proud tough clan. They appreciate songs and drink and family. They also hold on to the idea that they are sacrificing for the good of humanity at large. They have been told that they are pioneers on Mars, making the planet habitable through their hard lives mining helium-3, and some day the surface of the planet will be able to support life thanks to their efforts. Some day, the other colors will join them on Mars.

Then Darrow's life is shattered when he and his wife are arrested for trespassing in a garden that is restricted to the Bronze administrators. Soon Darrow finds himself alone, bereft and marked for execution. He is plucked from the jaws of death by a resistance group known as the Sons of Ares, who show him the Big Lie of his existence: the surface of Mars is actually already inhabited. The other colors have formed great cities, and are allowing the Reds to keep toiling as slaves while the Golds and their minion classes live lives of relative ease. The Sons of Ares have a plan for Darrow: because of his dexterity, constitution and quick mind, he is just the right double agent they need. Using advanced genetic manipulation, they will make Darrow a Gold and send him to infiltrate the Institute, the training academy which produces all the top leaders of the Society that controls the solar system. Darrow's job is to rise as high as he can within the Gold ranks so he can assist the Sons of Ares in their eventual revolution. The only problem: Darrow first has to survive the Institute.

I found Red Rising absolutely compelling. I tore through the book and am anxious to read the next two books in the trilogy. You will recognize many ingredients from other YA/fantasy series. The tone, especially at first, reminded me of Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go. The big discovery of society's true nature was reminiscent of the Matrix. The caste system is like Divergent. The Institute sorts its students into houses like Harry Potter. The cutthroat competitions among the Golds is very like The Hunger Games. And the nature of the training is described as a year-long deadly game of capture-the-flag, in which the houses (all named after Roman gods) fight one another while the proctors float about them and watch from a levitating mountain called Olympus. That, too, seemed oddly familiar.

And yet Red Rising is more than the sum of its parts. Pierce Brown manages to craft all these elements into something new, something believable and exciting. I couldn't help getting swept away in Darrow's story as we follow him from the lowly life of a miner to the very heights of Olympus (literally), wondering along the way if his secret identity will be discovered, or if he will 'go Gold' and forget his rebel benefactors and his mission. The book is satisfying in itself, but it leaves a lot of tantalizing questions for the second volume, which I have already started reading. If you like YA adventures, like the ones mentioned above, this is definitely a book you should check out!
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,862 reviews30.1k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 18, 2016

Holy effing hell, people.

Or should. I say. Holy. Effing. Helldiver.

All I can say is...


Seriously though, I was expecting some uber Sci-Fi awesomeness here and I feel like I got shafted with some broke ass YA that took itself waaaaaaay too seriously without having any actual sincerity.

There is NO way I could have been reading the same book as everyone else.

That's gotta be it.

My local library must have accidentally supplied me with the staccato-speak, melodramatic version of this thing instead of the real one...

...although I had a sneaking suspicion this book and I were not meant to be when I cracked this bad boy open and saw these two nuggets of brilliance in the dedication/acknowledgement sections:

"To Father, who taught me to walk."


...or trying to be "ironic."

Followed by this little ditty:

"And to the reader, thank you. You're going to bloodydamn love these books."



Because I most definitely did not.

Not only was the story boring as FUCK to me, but the cocky egotism displayed in the "acknowledgements" was clearly evident in the writing.

Every single sentence felt so pretentious that I could only imagine Brown typing each sentence out and then hitting that period button while exclaiming...



Regardless, this was just not what I expecting in any way.

So I'm not going to torture myself by finishing and then giving what I know would be a heinously unfair review.
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 65 books233k followers
September 17, 2016
I picked up Red Rising because a *lot* of the people at Worldbuilders were goofy over the books, and, by extension, the author Pierce Brown.

Earlier this year, when I went to a convention where he was going to be in attendance, the Worldbuilders team told me that if I didn't capture Pierce like a Pokemon and bring him back to the office with me, I shouldn't bother coming home at all....

I got to hang out with Pierce there, and he was irritatingly polite, witty, and charming. That, combined with the degree of slavering fanaticism the Worldbuilders team was showing him, convinced me that I should really give the books a try.

And I wasn't disappointed. They're good. In fact I'd go so far as to call them great books.

I suspect a lot of people compare them to Hunger Games, but I think that's disservice to he books. Red Rising has a much deeper, richer world, more in-depth characterization, and a more complex plot.

That said, if you *liked* Hunger Games but you wanted more of those things, this book would probably make you happy as a pig with six tits. (Yeah. I don't know what that means. I mean, pigs already have six. But I'm honestly curious if people actually read these reviews of mine all the way through. So this is an experiment of sorts to see who is paying attention.)

So yeah. Good characters. Good Worldbuilding. Good Action. Good book. Worth your time.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
June 26, 2021
no one:

me after a reread: my crush on pierce brown is still alive and thriving. ✨

true confessions: i bought this book because i thought the author was really attractive in his picture on the back cover flap. the interesting synopsis and the fact that 200+ of you have this added on GR also helped, but mainly it was because pierce brown is a total babe. lol.

so what a delightful bonus to also find out this is an absolute wonder of a story. a rough, brutal and vengeful wonder. i could relate to darrow on such a spiritual level - it almost felt as if his emotions were my emotions. its been awhile since i have connected to a character so strongly.

the plot is also fantastic! i was worried it felt a little too juvenile for adult fiction, but man. do things heat up. i understand some of the comparisons made to other books, but i really think this stands so well on its own. its quite unique and i honestly have no have no idea whats going to happen in the sequel, but im so excited to find out!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
May 15, 2021

“Break the chains, my love.”
Darrow has lived his entire life underground.

He lives, breaths and works thousands of meters below the surface as part of the "Reds" (lowest caste of his society) whose task is to teraform Mars for the generations to come.

Despite the cold, the dark and the damp, he is happy.

His society is poor in food but rich in love, dance and song. He married Eo, the love of his life, and they are ready to start a family.

But then, he learns.

He learns that humanity is already on Mars. Has been for generations and generations.

He learns that humanity has already stretched across the universe and settled the furthest-reaching planets.

He learns that he is a slave, and the lowest form of slave in that society, and he is destined to die underground along with everyone he's ever known.

Never to see the surface, never to feel the sun.
I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.
Soon after he learns, Eo is murdered before his eyes.

And that murder prompts a self-sacrifice (as YA novels often do)...only that doesn't go to plan.

Darrow is picked up by the rebels and they plan to use his fury, anger and revenge...and turn it against the society that betrayed his people.
The measure of a man is what he does when he has power.
They change Darrow's caste from a Red to a Gold - enhancing him inside and out - and enrolled him into the most elite school, with hopes to destroy this world from the inside-out.
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.
Only, this don't go to plan and Darrow becomes embroiled in a plot far greater than he ever imagined.

A solid start to a YA!

I really enjoyed (most) of this novel - the plot felt fresh (well, as fresh as any YA plot can be) and definitely entertaining.

Most of the story focused on Darrow as he went to "school" - which actually felt like an organized Hunger Games.

With each "team" being modeled after a major Greek God and the goal to take over the other bases, while learning all about the different war techniques.

Darrow did feel a bit over-the-top (especially with the Eo self-sacrifice in the beginning...felt too "average YA"), but I was intrigued by his character and his growth over the series more than made up for the beginning.

So few YA books are from a male perspective, so this was a welcome addition!

The ending did feel a rushed but I can honestly say that I have no idea where the book is going next and I'm completely and utterly invested.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,612 reviews10.7k followers
November 16, 2022
**4.5-stars rounded up**

My heart is elated. I want to shout it from the rooftops. Red Rising is a damn blessing! Yessssss!

I am so thankful that I finally made this series a priority. I had heard so much about it, so many rave reviews, so much love, so much hype...

...but, would it work for me?

I am late to the party, perhaps the thrill is gone?

Fortunately, I am happy to report, the thrill lives on! I adored this. In the very beginning, I'll admit, I was on the fence. It started out rather slowly and the tone was a bit morose, but once Darrow met the Sons of Ares, I was hooked.

This brought back some nostalgia for my first time reading my OG, The Hunger Games, and I'm cool with that.

The best part of a great dystopian are those moments when you think, oh shit, this could actually happen.

This story definitely has those moments.

For me personally, another integral aspect of a good dystopian story is the world-building. It has to be vast and detailed, yet easy to grasp. I don't want to be taking notes in order to understand it.

I felt the caste system, with designations based on colors, was really well done. Although I couldn't list for you the role of each of the colors off the top of my head, I do feel I have an understanding of the functioning of the world as a whole.

Picking up this book, I really did not know too much about the plot. I was so pleased that it ended up having two of my favorite tropes ever.

The first being a training and competition element. The fact that this competition happened to involve political and military strategy was the absolute icing on the cake.

The second is a chosen one trope. In this case, an individual chosen from the lowest rung of society, setting out to overthrow a decadent and corrupt ruling class. I dig that and Darrow is a very likable protagonist.

In fact, this entire book has plenty of people to cheer for and to hate because we all know, a good villain is VERY important!

I have already picked up the next book in the series, Golden Son, and it just keeps getting better and better. I cannot wait to continue on.

This is definitely binge GOLD.

To all of you who have recommended this to me over the years, thank you! You are genius and a true friend.

Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,753 followers
April 26, 2023
1/27/16 - Updated Review:

Pierce Brown would be a Gold in the society he built, and it kind of pisses me off.

This is the third time I've read RED RISING, it's the first time I've read it since reading GOLDEN SON, and, more than ever, I'm convinced he's a bloodydamn genius.

AND he's beautiful.

It's not fair.

You don't get to be brilliant AND talented AND have those eyes AND those arms:



You're welcome.

In heels, I might be taller than him, but who the hell cares in the face of ALL THE OTHER THINGS?

Everything about this book is perfection.

I'll admit, like many others, the first time I read it, I didn't love it immediately. I may have even forced my enthusiasm for awhile. BUT. With every additional read, I see more and more of the aforementioned genius.

Tiny, seemingly insignificant things that are easily overlooked in the thrill of first discovery, but at a second glance . . . are the exact kinds of things that separate a good book from a GREAT book.

He's crass in the barracks without crossing a line into juvenile bathroom humor. He uses innuendo without being cheesy--any females out there who didn't swoon at the mention of a helldiver's dexterous fingers?--and when the innuendo is meant to be cornball, it makes you laugh rather than roll your eyes:

Well played, Mars. They say Mercury is the trickster, but your japes always have a certain…flair!”
“Flair, eh? Well, I’m sure I could rustle up some tricks for you on Olympus…”
Huzzah,” she coos suggestively.

Huzzah. *giggle snorts*
And those are a mere handful of the multitudes of similarly nuanced details found on every other page.

All I'm saying is that if I find out he plays guitar or sings or even gives really great impressions à la Tom Hiddleston, things are gonna get ugly.

Brown . . . You have been warned.

Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

RED RISING by Pierce Brown might be the best book in the history of ever.

When I first heard about this book, I was accosted with comparisons to THE HUNGER GAMES. By bloggers, by publicists, by other authors . . .

Everyone has read THE HUNGER GAMES, and everyone loved THE HUNGER GAMES (myself included), and the comparisons to THE HUNGER GAMES were probably inevitable, b/c RED RISING was the first Dystopian novel since THE HUNGER GAMES that has even remotely come close to the same level of brutality (IMO).

However, RED RISING takes THE HUNGER GAMES‘ brutality and spits on it. Then jeers and makes rude gestures at it. Then rips off its arms and legs and beats it with them, shouting “Pax au Telemanus!” at the top of its lungs.

Seriously, I would’ve thought it impossible for me to even finish, let alone like, a book with this level of savagery. BUT Brown is clever about it. I didn’t even realize it myself until I was 75ish% finished and looking back through the parts I’d highlighted. And (right) now it’s occurring to me that Brown is even more clever than I originally thought him to be, b/c Darrow (MC) would be struggling with the same issues I was having.

About 30ish% into the book, you enter the third stage, and while the overall feel is still one of horror at the inhumanity of the upper classes, Darrow's enemies start to become humanized. Funny, nay, downright HILARIOUS things happen, camaraderie develops . . . It creeps up on you until you forget why Darrow is where he is. You're caught up in the NOW, survival depends on the present, and little thought is given to the past or the future.

And you're experiencing this so vividly b/c Darrow is too.

RED RISING is about a world run by a caste system. The castes are based on the eugenically modified eye color of a person. But the eugenics are not limited to the color of an individual’s iris, oh no, they have Obsidian elite soldiers that are twice the size of normal men, Violet artists with twelve fingers on each hand to better art with, and Pinks whose only job is to provide pleasure *waggles eyebrows* for the high-color castes (mostly Golds and Silvers). Pinks who sometimes have wings among other fantastical features created by Violets.

And then there are the Golds. The Golds that are in charge. The Golds that send their own children to an Institute, where if they survive “The Passage” (a sort of enforced Survival of the Fittest), they play a real-life version of RISK. How well they play determines their futures, with the victorious team members being assured fame and fortune. There are no rules once the ten month-long game begins, but killing other Golds is frowned upon. *snorts*

It should be noted that there are worse things than death.

Enter Darrow, a Red from the lowest-level caste. He is a Helldiver, one of the elite driller/miners who live beneath Mars’ surface, who believes he labors to provide a better future for his people. His job, along with the other Reds, is to mine Helium-3 which is essential in terraforming. The Earth is overpopulated you see, and Darrow’s ancestors were burdened with the glorious purpose of ensuring Mars is habitable for future generations. As soon as terraforming is complete, the Reds will return to the surface as the rightful rulers of the planet that was built on their backs.


I could go on and on (and on) about this book. Though it is (for unfathomable reasons) listed as YA, I can tell you that I will not be getting it for my youngest (14 y.o.) sister any time in the near future. I can also tell you that if you read this book, you will run the full gamut of emotions—I did anyway.

Bottomline: RED RISING is one of the absolute must-reads of 2014.

Jessica Signature

My other reviews for this series:

Golden Son (Red Rising, #2)
Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3)
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.8k followers
June 2, 2022
I went into Red Rising with high expectations, but I came out of it mostly disappointed. This story could have been so much more, but it suffers heavily from a few negatives that really hobble it.

Though this book is told from the perspective of protagonist Darrow, I feel like I hardly know him even after following him through the whole story. He comes across as rather bland and one-dimensional, with the only obvious trait of being rather full of himself. He's constantly reminding the reader how special and perfect he is and how there is no one else like him. I'm like, please.

The first two-thirds of this book is a complete slogfest. There is so much effort spent worldbuilding by throwing in tons of new words (mostly compound words with camel casing) and techs and random history, all of which don't matter to the story. My eyes glazed over. We're introduced to like 50 characters in this book, without the necessary hints of who's important and need to be remembered and who's just passing by. At some point, I gave up trying to keep straight who is who anymore.

I feel like Brown's inexperience as an author really shows in this book. He doesn't quite know how to bring some of his deeper themes into the story, so he just uses lots of flowery and overdramatic language, coming across as pretentious and completely bogging down what should have been a fast-paced book. And the plot is awkward and lumbering, though it does tighten up in the last quarter of the book and finally comes together.

Speaking of the plot itself, a lot of the ideas in here are suspiciously familiar, including being in a game arena and fighting for your life, giving slaves freedom after they've fought for you, and even some names like Severus and Minerva. I'm all for giving homage to influential books, but when it's too much that way, the story starts to feel like it's mostly borrowed and cobbled together instead of fresh and original.

For all the negatives though, I do feel the last quarter of this book grabbed my attention and brought a satisfying conclusion to the story. I'll probably go on to read the second book in the series since consensus is that it's better than the first, and I'm curious to see how the story continues.

See also, my thoughts on:
#2. Golden Son

Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,853 followers
November 5, 2022
Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave new world on space opera military sci fi steroids.

Expanding the dystopian ideas of Big Brother and Alpha plus to the universe with a pinch of future eugenic, survival of the fittest, and nice colors to distinguish the characters from each other. It´s not as if all humans were equal, so there has to be some clear signal to show who is boss and who is bottom. That´s a great system as long as no revolution sets in.

Pimping oldschool sci fi tropes
Some of the integrated ideas are body modifications, biotech, far advanced general tech, how suppression and dictatorship may work best and most efficiently in the future, classic agent, revenge, and soldier tropes, and how different kinds of Battle Royale, Hunger Games, etc. sceneries might develop. That´s the truly ingenious idea of this series, combining Big Alpha plus Brother with dystopic selection mechanisms, great character is plot is world fusion, and always many open questions and storylines.

How to rule a nation, continent, planet, solar system, galaxy, galaxy cluster, supercluster,…
Especially this aspect has the potential for many ideas, for instance with different human and alien races in different circumstances, on different planets, and goals depending on the plot. For instance terraforming, rebuilding, turning the whole planet into Dyson spheres, killing all others, finding an equilibrium of power, or the magical alien artifacts sponsored by company XY. The potential is just endless, especially with a grain of science fantasy, and horror this could include close to all tropes of these genres, a bombastic overkill of new creative megalomania.

Future warfare
Or, to focus on humans and their creatures and animals: What about battles between normally evolved humans with special talents or abilities, be it natural, magical, or technological, and uplifted animals, robots, robot-human hybrids, etc? Why not funded by the conglomerates or states that produce the patented products or build their mentality and ideology on it? The potentials are endless and I am looking forward to what the good, old, classic fascist terror nightmare neoliberal hellscape trope will evolve into for my joy and entertainment.

Easier to enter than the grim godfathers of dystopian sci fi
Anyone who has read Orwell and Huxley knows that it´s a bit like work because of the sheer complexity and darkness and, of course, the writing style that evolved a bit over the decades and became far easier to dive into and hopefully not drown like many protagonists.

Unique genre milestone
I´ve hardly ever read a dystopia that has everything, it´s a masterpiece, without any length, dense, full of ideas, great dialogues, credible characters, and a surprise ending that comes out of nowhere and is perfectly prepared and integrated into the story.

Go sci fi!
If this is your first sci-fi genre encounter, dare to dive deeper, because there are hundreds of great social, biopunk, dystopian, military, cyberpunk, and hard science fiction pearls out there. Even some optimistic and utopian space operas that show to what humankind could evolve to with eco social matriarchy, UBI, the Nordic model (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_...), AI, and the only things distinguishing us from apes. Tech and true ethical standards that aren´t just drivel, but the core of future human societies, some privileged nowadays individuals are already lucky enough to live in.

Tropes show how literature is conceived and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Dorreh.
63 reviews201 followers
August 21, 2017
It's like The Martian marries the hunger games, then the hunger games gets into an affair with the game of Thrones.
I think that speaks for itself, but let's elaborate further just for the sake of my sanity shall we??

I want to first of all point out what really gripped me in this book, because even though I liked it very much, I was 30% confusion, 20% outrage, 50% admiration. I'm not to great at math, but thats a 100% of how I felt. The gripping part to me was not the romance( which was pretty good, oh and that shocking last minute turn), or the action, or even the admirable albeit familiar setting, it was simply the touch of reality in Darrow's character. Most authors create a symbolic hero, self less, honorable, and self sacrificial to a point of outrage. This wasn't the case here. Although Darrow is a boy who knows love and loyalty, anger and betrayal, he is a touch more down to earth. Yes he is self less and all, but he's a realistic kind of selfless, a person with relatable abilities, a character that stands out, but is still only human. It started from Eo and her indulging him in her ideas. You see were this any other novel, he would have probably jumped at the idea of a revolution, of change, because well, he is the main protagonist, he is supposed to be wise beyond his years and so open minded and fearless that nothing else really matters. But Darrow isn't, he like any other real person depressed by years of brainwashing knows fear, see's the reality of his limitations, and is actually afraid of consequences. And why this was so gripping to me is that he is given space to grow, to overcome fears that are logical and real, he is not fearless, but he learns to be brave. He masters courage, and finds love where he looked for revenge.

Also the great page turner was the shock that came right before the game was over, twins?!?! Who would have thought, I had considered lovers or allies, but that one came so fast and out of nowhere it kinda made me stumble there for a minute. Even though i had a soft spot in me for mustang since the very beginning, and then she nailed her territory in my heart when she saved Darrow's life. And Cassius made me want to punch someone, even though at the same time I sympathized with him. Who can get over the blood of a loved one easily?

Despite all the great aspects this book had, I had trouble keeping up with the literature at times. The author did quite a splendid job, truly, but I guess his style of writing just didn't sync with me to well. There were times when I had focus harder on a sentence to catch its meaning, it didn't let me float through the words and let my imagination free like I usually do with books. So I guess those small confusions were my only true complaint about this book. But will I be reading the rest? Oh, definitely yes, wouldn't miss it for the world. Can't wait to see how he will conquer or fall in this tale.
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,266 followers
May 26, 2015

Red Rising reads like a 12 year old boy’s fever script for an action movie. It lacks originality and borrows heavily from The Hunger Games. Don’t believe me? Both have a society split up into different fractions, depending on what they provide the world. Both have arenas with teens killing each other, while patrons look on and provide gifts for their favored participants. Both have protagonists who have signature weapons from a hunter/gatherer society. There are a few differences, but it’s the same basic premise. Except way too long and on Mars.

Red Rant
Okay, the “Red Queen is a ripoff of Red Rising!!!” comments are inaccurate . Yes, there is a color-coded society in both. However, Red Queen has 2 colors: Red and Silver. That’s it. And in that book the segregation of the colors is about who has powers and who doesn’t. Red Rising has a rainbow of colors to choose from, but here’s the most important distinction: THERE ARE NO POWERS IN RED RISING. None. If one really wanted to make an argument about someone stealing another color-coded system, it might be more apt to say Pierce Brown ripped it from Star Trek because both use colors as easily identifiable ways to delineate job categories. Why does the Red Queen/Red Rising similarity bother me so much? Because reading all of the reviews for Queen made me think that Rising would actually be similar, but the comparison is just simplistic and superficial.

The writing is clunky and bloodydamn hard to follow along with at points. Half of the compound words have a random capital halfway through them like something Margo Roth Spiegelman would approve of. There are too many characters to keep track of, and most of them die anyway before you remember why they are important. The arena portion, while the meat of the book, dragged on and on and could have cut about 100 pages while still making its point. I thought it was lazy world building to borrow so heavily from Greco-Roman mythology for a future civilization. Don’t even get me started on the teens pontificating ancient philosophers’ quotes at each other…

Also, “Red Rising” sounds more like a pill you need to call a doctor for if *something* lasts more than 4 hours. Jussayin’.

So will I read Golden Sun? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
February 7, 2021
Actual rating: 1.5 stars

Brace yourselves, this is not going to go well.

YES, I only gave this book 1.5 stars when 99.99% of the world population gave it a 5 star rating. But it could have been worse and I'm actually marvelling at the fact that I was able to finish the book at all. Granted, I skimmed through most of the last chapters because there is only so much boredom I can take.

First off, let's get something straight: when everyone tells you you need to get past the first 35% of a book before it gets interesting you should think twice about reading it. It happened to me this time, it won't happen again. When I read a book I want it to be interesting from page 1 and not have to wait to be one third in for the story to go somewhere.

Do you want to know what my main problem with this book is? The writing.

Things didn't start well between Red Rising and me since I tend to have a hard time with first person/present tense narratives. What makes it a lot worse here is the short sentence structure:

I would never sing the forbidden song. I would work. I would bow. Let me wash dirt from my hands instead of blood. I want only to live with my family. We were happy enough.

Now that kind of staccato writing really makes me want to scream. It's exhausting to read and makes me feel like I'm choking.

Brown tries too hard. He tries too hard to be poetic in a dark, melodramatic way. He tries too hard to impress with what some readers seem to think are profound, quote-worthy lines. The problem is that his supposedly poetic prose feels forced and immature. Not only is his writing not poetic, it is completely flat and unemotional.

The way Brown force feeds the reader with Greek and Latin names in the first part of the book? Ridiculous. I originally thought Brown used Latin references for anything Gold-related and Greek references for Ares and the Red but apparently it's not the case. So what purpose does it serve? Mix tens of Classical references together, shake well and what? Nothing. The problem is not that he uses Greek and Latin references. The problem is that he overdoes it and it feels contrived.

I suppose the story itself could have been interesting had it been faster paced. The world building and plot development are both tedious and desperately slow. Darrows' non-stop inner dialogue certainly didn't help here. I was pretty much bored to death until I reached the last part of the book. The pace picks up in towards the end but for me it was just too little too late.

Although the premise of the book is fairly intriguing the plot is poorly executed and the story is just too predictable. Required twists and revelations? Check. Required betrayals? Check. The problem is that the twists, revelations and betrayals are less than exciting and badly handled. To make things worse, part of the plot resolution made me feel like Brown was out of ideas and chose the easy way out.

You have to get to the famous 35% mark to understand why this has been compared to The Hunger Games. The fact that the action is set in a more ruthless, more violent, bloodier world is apparently supposed to make Red Rising much cooler. Some readers also say it has much more depth than The Hunger Games. Sorry but I don't see that big a difference here. It still reads like YA dystopia to me. It doesn't have the required love triangle? So what? It's still kids playing war games with one of them trying to fight oppression in the process.

Other readers have mentioned that some passages of Red Rising also reminded them of Dune, Lord of the Flies, Lord of the Rings and Ender's Game. Me? The arrival at the Institute with the "Sorting Ceremony" scene and dispatching of students in different houses made me feel like I was back at Hogwarts with Harry Potter. One last thing: when a book reminds readers of so many other books? Not a good sign.

Miraculously there are a few things I liked about this book: the carving was interesting enough and I really enjoyed Matteo's Professor Higgins-like tutoring of Darrow. I liked Mickey, Sevro and Mustang. That's about it.

The problem with Red Rising is that Brown tries too hard to write an epic story. He tries too hard to impress the readers with his prose. And it all falls terribly flat.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
May 29, 2018
”Brave pioneers, always remember that obedience is the highest virtue. Above all, obedience, respect, sacrifice, hierarchy…”

It’s been quite a while I last dove into a science fiction series but “Red Rising” definitely was worth it!

This book was so well made and always forced me to think ahead, to anticipate what would come next and to try to figure out how the MC would handle the situation! Just like Darrow I constantly found myself wondering who was going to stab him in the back and who would try to support him! And let me tell you this: There were really, really many unexpected twists and turns!!!
Jeez! There were already so many changes in the first 100 pages, it was really crazy!!! I mean seriously crazy! *lol*

“Red Rising” was dark, it was brutal, it was cunning, it was sneaky and unexpected! But oh boy, did I love it! XD
It was an incredible rollercoaster that left me gasping for more and of course I already ordered the second book! ;-P

To explain this book in a few sentences is definitely more than just hard, but I’m going to try to do it anyway. Because, well, Pierce Brown deserves it! =))

The plot:

”We’re to sacrifice for the good of men and women we don’t know. We’re to dig to ready Mars for others. That makes some of us nastyminded folks.”

Darrow is a sixteen year old Red and a Helldiver, one of the many Red miners that risk their lives in order to extract elements from Mars’ barren earth but also one of the few who’s truly respected. Not everyone has what it takes to be a Helldiver and Darrow no doubt is one of the best Mars has to offer. For a hundred and fifty years millions of Reds have tried to make the planet habitable, yet they still haven’t managed to live on the surface. Well, at least that’s what they’ve been told! The truth is that it’s all a sham and one big lie! A lie the Golds have told them to make them obedient and to keep them under their thumb, and a lie that cost Darrow everything! As a boy who has nothing left to lose and everything to gain Darrow decides to make a stand, ascending from the depths of Mars, his only aim the destruction of the society that has betrayed them for so long.

”I would have lived in peace, but my enemies brought me war.”

The characters:

This wouldn’t be one of my reviews if I wouldn’t point out that the characters section is going to be full of massive spoilers! So yeah, consider yourself warned!!! *lol* ;-P


”We sweat and we laugh and try to forget the anger. We grew together, and now are grown. In her eyes, I see my heart. In her breath, I hear my soul. She is my land. She is my kin. My love.

I love Darrow! This boy is amazing! I loved the way he thought about Eo and how much he adored her! He always tried to be a good man but then they killed his wife and everything went to hell! It was painful to watch him evolve and to see how much he changed throughout the book. Not just physically but also mentally! Deep down within him he’s still a good and honourable person but he now lives in a world where he doesn’t have the luxury to be kind. I hated to see him struggle with his destiny and sometimes I just wanted to reassure him that everything was going to be alright. There were so many powerful moments in this book and they all shaped him somehow! Julian’s death, Titus’ resistance, Cassius' betrayal, Pax’s unconditional loyalty that cost him his life… They were all pieces of a puzzle that formed him into something new and if I’m entirely honest I don’t even want to know how much he’s going to suffer in the next book. Scratch that, Hell I definitely want to know!!! *lol*

”Dancer, Darrow is like a stallion, one of the old stallions of Earth. Beautiful beasts that will run as hard as you push them. They will run. And run. And run. Until they don’t. Until their hearts explode.”

”Let me dig in the earth. Let me sing the songs of my people and leap and spin and run along the walls. I would never sing the forbidden song. I would work. I would bow. Let me wash dirt from my hands instead of blood. I want to live with my family. We were happy enough.
Freedom costs too much.”

”I hope his pain fades in death. I did not love him till he was dead; and he should be dead, but he is still my brother. So I pray he finds peace in the vale and that I will see him again one day and we’ll embrace as brothers as he forgives me for what I did to him, because I did it for a dream, for our people.”


”Fancy a roll in the mud, do we? Well, how about I promise to let you up here with me if you give me more clues as to where your castle squats? Towers? Sprawls? I can be a kind master.”

Finally an awesome female MC!!! Gosh how much I adored her! She was so self-confident and cheeky!!! AND I loved the way she thought! She is a Gold by birth but she was as fierce as a Red and that only caused me to like her even more. It was pretty clear that deep down within her she actually dislikes the system she was born into and is willing to change it! So yeah I think she’s the perfect love interest for Darrow and I can’t wait to see more of her! Plus, her true name is Virginia! *lol* I’m not biased… not at all! ;-P

”There’s pain when I hold her, but it comes from the past, not from Mustang. She is something new, something hopeful. Like spring to my deep winter.”

”Oooo. I am Reaper. God of wolves. King of strategy.” Mustang pinches my cheek. “You are just too adorable.”


”Well, I do believe I am the lightning,” Cassius declares. “And you, my brooding friend, are the thunder.”

I never liked Cassius, I respected him and valued his intelligence but just like Darrow I never truly trusted him. I can understand why he was so furious and wanted to kill Darrow, but it really wasn’t like Darrow would have had a choice. It was either him or Julian and even though his approach might have been brutal this still doesn’t mean that he enjoyed killing Cassius' brother. After everything they’ve been through I really hoped that he’d think before he did something stupid, unfortunately he didn’t though. =((( So yeah, I guess after his declaration in the war room there’s going to be a lot of trouble in the next book!

”I didn’t have a choice,” I tell him. “I hope you know that.”
“You will rot in hell, you manipulative son of a bitch,” he cries. “You allowed me to call you brother!”

”The spark in his eye has cooled. Time and space away from this place are what his souls needs. Months of siege. Months of anger and defeat. Months of loss and guilt have drained him of all that makes him Cassius. What a poor soul. I feel sorry for him. I almost laugh. After he put a sword in my belly, I pity him.


”And violent hearts set harshest flame,” Roque murmurs from his knee.

I liked that boy right from the beginning and I think he was the perfect counterweight to Darrow and Cassius. He was always the voice of reason and kind of complemented their triumvirate. *lol* Since he was such a kind boy I couldn’t help but wonder how he survived the passage, he obviously did though! XD I liked that he was so loyal to Darrow and that he decided to keep his secret. Roque was a poet with principles and in my eyes that made him more than just an interesting character. ;-) I really hope that he’ll play some part in the next book as well!

”A thin boy I hardly recognize delivers it to me. But when he grabs me in a skeletal embrace, a hug so hard it hurts, I know who he is.
A silent sob echoes in my chest.
He is quiet as he hugs me. Then his body shudders like Pax’s did as he met death. Except these shudders come from joy, not pain.
Roque lives.


Sevro shrugs. “We’ll take Minerva’s standard.”
“W-wait,” Cassius says. “You know how to do that?”
Sevro snorts. “What do you think I’ve been doing this whole time, you silky turd? Wanking off in the bushes?”
Cassius and I look at each other.
“Kind of,” I say.
“Yeah, actually,” Cassius agrees.

That sassy, cunning and cocky little wolf!!! I LOVE HIM SO FREAKIN MUCH!!! *LOL* I think I’m probably the only person that developed a little crush on him, but Holy moly that boy was incredible! XD He definitely was my favourite character and when I found out that he was Fitchners’ son I actually laughed! This boy is nothing but awesome and I can’t wait to see more of him!!! Please my beloved book gods let him make an appearance in the other two books as well! I need more Sevro in my life!!! <3

”Why, if it isn’t my belly buddy!” Tactus drawls. “Why the limp, my friend?”
“Your mother rode me ragged,” Sevro grunts.
“Bah, you’d have to stand on your tiptoes to even kiss her chin.”
“Wasn’t her chin I was trying to kiss.”

The Jackal:

”Humans are always negotiating. That’s what conversation is. Someone has something, knows something. Someone wants something.” His smile is pleasant, but his eyes… There is something wrong with him. A different soul seems to have filled his body since the time he was Lucian. I have seen actors… but this is different. It is as though he is reasonable to the point of being inhuman.

Oookay, the Jackal was probably one of the scariest book villains I ever came across! *lol* The scene when he cut his hand off? OH GOD! It gave me the creeps and made me feel sick! Seriously that boy is just downright insane and creepy! I have absolutely no clue how Virginia and him can be related, let alone be twins!!! I don’t even want to know what he’s going to do in the next book and I’m afraid I might get nightmares if I think about it all too much! >_<

”The Jackal is halfway done when he looks up at me with a sane smile that convinces me of his complete insanity. His teeth chatter. He is laughing, at me, at this, at the pain. I’ve not met anyone like him. Now I know how Mickey felt when he met me. This is a monster in the flesh of a man.

All things considered “Red Rising” was a more than just intriguing read and never ceased to keep me on my toes! I’m already looking forward to read the second book and I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next! =)
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
December 2, 2020
“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.”

A man, whose life is about to change in every way possible. From the bones of his body to the colour of his eyes, from the place he lives to the way he talks. He's got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I was incredibly intrigued to start this series. I watched Red Rising go from underrated to hyped and now that the final installment of the series was released, I had to give it a try as well.
I first started the book and put it down again after around 50 pages. I had a hard time imagining the fictional world and the time it took to read those few pages discouraged me.
A few weeks later I had more spare time and decided to give it another try. It still took me nearly three weeks to finish it, mostly because this novel is so HUGE. I'm not talking about page count, I'm talking about the world building, the style of writing and the darkness of it all. Darrow is not the most heart-warming character either. Sometimes I wasn't given enough detail and additionally I was confused by the many new terms.

Anyway, it was a fantastic read. I never got bored, never felt like I knew where the story was going. Lots of unexpected turns kept me on the hook. It was smart, thrilling, scary, cruel and exciting. Darrow is a wicked and badass main character and I'm sure I can expect great things from him and his author in the sequels.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
425 reviews1,641 followers
April 16, 2017
2 Stars





To my all GR friends who loved this book and/or recommended it to me:

I'm really glad you loved it! This just didn't work for me...


This is brutal. Pierce Brown does a fantastic job of creating a treacherous and gritty world. Almost all dystopias rely on a sense of danger, but most of the characters are safe. Not here. It wasn’t just that characters could die, but there was absolutely no mercy if they did. This book truly didn’t hold back and in doing so, established its own unique voice.

The blend of science-fiction and fantasy was definitely creative, even though I had problems with the execution. The science behind the terraforming and ways of sustaining life on Mars seemed well-thought out and explained well.


I know I’m the minority here, but I just couldn’t stand this writing. It was.so.repetitive. If I had to read the word “Bloodydamn” or “Piss” one more time I was going to throw up.

Told in first-person present, the story was largely composed of short, straightforward sentences. There would be lengthy paragraphs consisting mostly of 5-6 word sentences strung together. For example:

"Then something catches. My foot is jammed just underneath one of the gears near a drill finger. I gasp down air in panic. The dread rises in me. I see my bootheel melting. The first layer goes. The second bubbles. Then it will be my flesh."

This should have been a really intense scene, especially since it happens early in the book. But the choppy sentences just made me feel so disconnected from the story. The sentence structure rarely varied, so everything just started to blur together and feel outrageously monotonous. It made the story feel boring, even when exciting stuff was happening.

In all honesty, I wanted to DNF this before I was 50 pages in. Not only was the wording giving me headaches, but I just didn’t give a flying-flip about anyone. All my GR friends kept assuring me everything changed around the 80-100 page mark, and it certainly did--the whole story got wayyy more intense and crazy.

But I still felt disconnected from the characters and then more characters were introduced… and then more. All the names were Roman and confusing and it took me forever to understand and they all just kind of melted together.

Except Darrow. Who remained the absolute perfect boy who could somehow do no wrong. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. He was straight-up Mary-Sue:

- Told to stop drilling as it’s dangerous. Ends up drilling anyway, pulls off something “nobody else” could have done. Everyone makes a big deal about how special he is. (No spoilers, this all happens in the first 20 pages)

- Barely learns about a rebellion but immediately signs up. Undergoes weeks of extensive and painful surgery without ever complaining.

- Misses one question out of “hundreds” on his entrance exam.

- Liked by almost everyone.

Even worse than Darrow was his wife, Eo. Who literally only existed to motivate Darrow to action. Seriously. She had NO personality and whenever Darrow mentioned her it was just about how "beautiful" and flipping perfect she was. Then there was all this BS about how she was “just a dreamer” and couldn’t serve any purpose except motivating real heroes?? Can we please stop with these disposable female characters who exist only to motivate some bland hero into action? The fridge is full, people.

I’m still not entirely sure I understood this plot. So much random crap seemed to be happening and it wasn’t really related to most anything from the beginning. And everyone had these same Roman names and I just still don't understand what the point of half the fighting was.

In Conclusion

I can see how others would enjoy this, as it combines elements from fantasy, dystopia and sci-fic to create a dark, fast-paced story—but the characters, sentence structure and plot just didn’t work for me.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,606 reviews5,990 followers
December 10, 2015
2nd read:
I'm a dumbass. I fully admit to being a dumbass.

I don't know what the hell I was doing the first time I read this book..because I gave it 3.5 stars. After reading so many shitty books this year I know now what a great book this really is.

This time it gets it's full five stars. Five frigging, huge, screaming stars. Stars for SeVRo, Pax, Mustang and the rest of these characters.

1st read: When I was a dumbass.
Unpopular opinion time. I'm sorry fangirls. I just didn't love this book.

I did enjoy parts of it. Then there were times when my eyes just glazed over. Dang it. I had such high hopes for it too.
I probably will check out the sequels to see how it goes before final decision is made.
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,311 followers
January 23, 2018
❝I will rise. I will attend the Academy. I will learn to lead fleets. I will win. I will sharpen myself into a sword. I will give my soul. I will dive to hell in hopes of one day rising to freedom. I will sacrifice.❞

HOLY CRAP. What a ride. I don't even know where to begin! I knew there had to be a reason why everyone was talking about this series but WOW. Red Rising was really something else. I expected a typical YA "chosen one" type of fantasy novel but this book was so much more complex than that. And it was definitely more Adult than YA. In truth, it reminded me a lot of the Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies. But since I haven't read The Hunger Games, I can't really compare too much besides what I've seen in the movies. But I did get very similar vibes!

Darrow was such a great character. I loved his transformation so much. I was a bit wary about him in the beginning but the more the story progressed, the more I grew attached to his character. He came such a long way from the Red Darrow we first meet to the Gold Darrow we see by the end of the book. It's really as if these two characters were two different people. All the other characters were great as well, even the notorious villains in the story. Mustang was an absolute QUEEN and I can't wait to explore her character even more in the next book. She's such an amazing character and I felt like we didn't get to see as much as I wanted to. Same with Sevro! I loved his loyalty and friendship with Darrow. And PAX omg. My heart. I can't wait to see their development as the series progresses.

The only real complaint I had with Red Rising was the world building, and a bit of the pacing as well. It wasn't until maybe halfway through that the story finally started to pick up. The first half was to establish the society and hierarchy. I found it to be VERY confusing, and I'm still trying to figure it all out even now. The beginning felt very info-dumpy therefore I didn't understand too much of the society other than the fact that the Golds are the highest of highs and Reds are the lowest of lows, everyone else just fits somewhere along the middle.

If people didn't tell me to push through, I would've probably set this book aside because of how confused I was. But I'm glad I stuck with it because Red Rising probably sealed a place on my favorite series list! I can't wait to get through the rest of the series and binge read the next two books. :)
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
July 19, 2015
I just did a re-read to prep myself for Golden Son.
For me, it was definitely the right choice.
I would have missed a lot of references...mainly, because my tiny dinosaur brain can't hold onto/recall information like it used to.
Was it still as good as I remembered?


Original 2013 review:

This review can also be seen at Addicted2Heroines.
There's a lot of hype surrounding this book, and for once it's totally deserved.
How often can you really say that?!
When I first started reading it, I was pretty convinced that it was going to be a fairly average book.
I mean, I've read a lot of dystopians and a lot of sci-fi lately. Was this really going to be that different?
And after the first chapter, I was less than impressed.
It's set underground. On Mars.
And everyone is color-coded.
AWESOME. Haven't seen that at least 200 times before...
Oh. And the main character is already married? AT SEVENTEEN!?
He's some sort of super-skilled digger?
What? Is he part mole-man?
Are they DANCING as a form of rebellion?
What the fuck kind of stupid shit is this?!

Yeah. I was not impressed.

Ah, but I was so veryvery wrong.
After that initial chapter introducing you to Darrow and his life, this book starts to get really interesting...really fast.
Darrow's wife is not content with their life, even though she is very much in love with him. She wants to fight against the Golds that she feels are enslaving her people. Darrow, on the other hand, is not willing to risk their safety (hers in particular) for a dream he doesn't believe in. He may not think that their life is fair, but he believes that he is doing the right thing for future generations by helping to terraform the planet. She, however, sees the potential Darrow has to save the Reds, even when he doesn't see it himself.
And she does something unthinkable to help him realize that potential.
What she does sets Darrow on an incredible journey to the surface, and into the heart of the enemy. To help realize her dream, he eventually agrees to join the Red's rebellion. He also agrees to allow them to transform him into one of the elite Golds. It's no easy task, since it requires genetic modification, surgery, and lessons in speech and etiquette. After all of this, he must not only gain entrance to their training academy, but come out of it at the head of the class.

Unfortunately, not much is known about what happens to the young Golds who enter the academy, only that it produces the future leaders of their society. The rebels have enough resources to forge his documents, but once inside, Darrow will be on his own.
When he enters the academy, he feels nothing but revulsion for these obnoxious children. They are lazy, greedy, pampered, and shallow. He has already seen first hand the extent of the Gold's evil deceptions, and nothing will stand in the way of him bringing them down. His hatred of these elitist teenagers burns white-hot in his chest, and it doesn't matter what he has to do in order to emerge victorious...
Oh shit.
Not many things are truly black and white...are they?

M'kay. Lots of comparisons to The Hunger Games floating around out there.
In my opinion, Red Rising takes The Hunger Games and spanks its overrated ass.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Suzanne Collin's trilogy, and (obviously) so did a lot of other people.
But I never quite loved it.
Mainly, because Katniss always seemed to be an unwilling participant in the story. She was pushed, pulled, and prodded into everything that she did. And in the end, I felt disappointed that her character never seemed to grow past that. She did what she had to do...and she survived.
The End.
I wanted to see some sort of spark of life in her, but it seemed (to me) like she was just a depressed puddle of skin, who would occasionally snap out of it and do something extraordinary.
Darrow, on the other hand, grew and changed throughout the entire book. He started out as a Katniss-like character, but ended up a different person entirely. His motivations changed, his beliefs changed, and even his view of the world changed. He stopped being a bystander in his life, and the result was spectacular.

I gotta say, the writing in this is nothing short of amazing. It's just...I can't adequately describe how much Brown made me feel for these characters. Really, I was blown away.
Especially surprising since this was a debut novel.

If you only read one book this year, it needs to be this one.

I received this digital arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,643 reviews1,511 followers
October 22, 2022
Sale Alert: Kindle deal 22Oct22 $1.99

I might have liked this even more the second time through. Fantastic.
 photo highsix_zpsab9390d3.gif

Dystopian novels seem to be a dime a dozen lately, some good, some horrible, so it is great to see a book set itself apart and really capture my imagination. Red Rising is a combination of The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies if you turned the volume up to 11.

I am the spark that will set the worlds afire. I am the hammer that cracks the chains.

The beginning was a little predictable, I mean to create a man with an epic quest there must be a great injustice done to him. Darrow is that boy/man. While most boys of seventeen are playing at being a man, he has seen and been through too much to be a boy any longer. Married to his childhood sweetheart Eo at sixteen he works for his clan mining underground on Mars so the planet can be terraformed for future generations. He works hard to provide for them but it seems that they are destined to be low forever. Eo has dreams to make their lot in life better for Darrow to stand up and rebel but he wants nothing except her.

“You think a dream is worth dying for. I say it isn’t. You say it’s better to die on your feet. I say it’s better to live on our knees.”

When Darrow finds out his entire life has been a lie, that mars is already terraformed and has been for generations he is recruited to rebel against the system by transforming from a lowly Red into a Gold, the rulers of the worlds who believe themselves to be Gods among men. Now he must infiltrate their system and become the best Gold possible so that in the future he can destroy them from the inside.

Red Rising is dark and intense, full of intrigues and betrayals. Even though the beginning is predictable the rest of the book is not. Just when I start to feel comfortable with the characters and the roles they are playing the rug gets pulled out from under me and I have a very new understanding of the game and the society that constructed it. No one is safe and no one is what they seem.

I loved some of the side characters, there are so many that are slightly off. It could be because they are brilliant but it could also be because they are crazy, perhaps both. Servo was one of my favorites and I was never quite sure what that guy was going to pull next.

“I killed their pack leader,” Servo says when I ask why the wolves follow him. He looks me up and down and flashes me an impish grin from beneath the wolf pelt. “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t fit in your skin.”

Brown has given us glimpses into a vast and complicated world. We have only seen a small part of it so far but what I’ve seen is dark, cruel and intricate. Throughout the story Darrow stumbles and falls but the transformation of him from the beginning of the story to the end was amazing and you get to see every misstep and mistake along the way to make you believe the transformation. I can’t wait to see how Brown follows Red Rising up. Definitely a dystopian worth diving into.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,114 followers
August 30, 2019
4.5 ⭐️

Weeks after I started this buddy read with Fares I finally finish way late because I’m useless. Enjoyed reading with you bud - please don't give up buddy reading with me forever!

“I am the spark that will set the worlds afire. I am the hammer that cracks the chains.”

Well bloodydamn! This was fantastic! Full of violence and secrets, politics and betrayals, all tied up with intricate and believable world building.

Darrow is a Red. The Red’s live on Mars and work as miners. It is hard and dangerous work, but they are told they are pioneers, working towards making the planet habitable for all the other colours. There are as many other colours as can be counted – greens, pinks, blues, browns, coppers – too many to list. But the most important, are the Golds.

The Golds are the leaders, the ones in charge, and when Darrow realises how corrupt the system the Reds are forced to live under really is – it’s time to take action.

Undergoing a series of painful operations and intense training, Darrow is recreated as a Gold. Sent into their tests and training to hopefully worm his way in and find a way to bring their reign of terror down.

I loved all the different characters (Pax, Mustang, Sevro, Cassius and many others), I loved the comparisons with Ancient Rome, both with the names the Golds are given and also the way in which the Golds rule. They have Praetors and Imperators, the leaders that test the Golds have even named themselves after the Roman gods (Apollo, Mars, Venus, Juno etc.) very interestingly done.

The main test the Golds have is very Hunger Games-esque. They are split into teams, chosen by each of the Olympians and forced to battle each other, to enslave one another, until one house and one Primus remains.

As I said, loads of violence, so be wary if that isn’t your thing. But Darrow as a character was outstanding. He does everything that he must in order to move forward, never forgetting his family or the Reds that he is fighting for whilst attempting to keep his secret from everyone. So many twists and turns, Darrow always seems to have another trick up his sleeve, and I cannot wait to see where his journey takes him next!

“Remember the chains, when Gold ruled with iron veins, we roared and roared, and twisted and screamed, for ours, a vale, of better dreams.”
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
264 reviews3,957 followers
May 31, 2022
Check out my YouTube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books as soon as I finish the book.

3.5 stars. An engaging world with an intriguing plot that suffers from one-dimensional characters and a writing style I don't love

I can absolutely see why so many people absolutely rave about this book, as I think the concept of it and the world that have been created are absolutely wonderful. I was sucked in from the first few pages, and I loved the journey that I was taken on as a reader. The plot has some major diversions from what you are expecting this book to be about, and these keep you on your toes and are a refreshing take on the sci-fi genre.

Without spoiling anything, the Hunger Games style plot worked well here - and assuming this is not consistently the case for all the books, I think this worked well for a first book to set the stage for more grandiose things to come in future books. I loved the direction the plot took, and really didn't see pretty much any of the things happen beforehand which is always appreciated.

Unfortunately for me, the characters were far too flat. Everyone is rude to each other and you don't get a great sense of connecting with any of these characters and really rooting for them. This is partially due to the way the characters were written, but also due to the writing style employed here. The action sequences arguably happen too frequently to really get a deeper dive into the characters, and the action itself is written in such as frenetic style that it didn't sit well with me. Things happen too quickly constantly in this book - plans are made by characters, only to find out they are right in the middle of the action before the page is done with.

The ending was well done though, and it left me hungry to continue on with this series so I could see where this plot takes me as the reader.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
October 27, 2021
Red Rising (Red Rising #1), Pierce Brown

Red Rising is a 2014 science fiction novel by American author Pierce Brown, and the first book and eponym of a series.

The novel, set on a future planet Mars, follows lowborn miner Darrow as he infiltrates the ranks of the elite Golds.

It has been seven hundred years since mankind colonized other planets.

The powerful ruling class of humans has installed a rigid and color-based social hierarchy, where the physically superior Golds at the top rule with an iron fist.

Sixteen-year-old Darrow is a Red, a class of workers who toil beneath the surface of Mars mining helium-3 to terraform the planet and make it habitable. He and his wife Eo are caught in a forbidden area and arrested.

While she is publicly whipped for her crime, Eo sings a forbidden folk tune as a protest against their virtual enslavement. She is subsequently hanged on the orders of Mars' ArchGovernor, Nero au Augustus.

Darrow cuts down and buries his wife's body, a crime for which he is also hanged. However, Darrow awakes to find that he has been drugged and delivered into the hands of the Sons of Ares, a terrorist group of Reds who fight against the oppression of the "lowColors".

They have adopted the video of Eo's song and execution as a rallying vehicle for their cause. Darrow joins the Sons when he learns that Mars was already terraformed centuries before and that the Reds have been tricked into perpetual servitude and subjugation. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه دسامبر سال2016میلادی

عنوان: قیام سرخ - کتاب نخست از سه گانه قیام سرخ؛ نویسنده: پیرس براون؛ برگردان: مهنام عبادی؛ ویراستار نیما کهندانی؛ تهران، نشر بهداد، سال1395؛ در336ص؛ شابک کتاب نخست9786008203360؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21م

کتاب دوم این سری «پسر زرین»؛ نام دارد

هفتصد سال از زمانیکه انسانها، دیگر سیارات را، مستعمره ی خود کرده اند، میگذرد؛ «دررو» شانزده ساله، و از طبقه ی قرمز (سرخ) است، او یکی از معدنکارانی است، که در زیر سطح «مریخ»، به عنوان بخشی از تلاشهای انسانی، برای تغییر سطح سیاره، و قابل سکونت کردن آن، به سختی کوشش میکند؛ اما «دررو» که بخاطر فداکاریِ همسرِ دوست داشتنی خویش «ائو»، به خیانت طبقه ی حاکم، یا «طلایی»ها، پی میبرد؛ سازمانی پنهانی نیز با نام «پسران آرس»، از او سود میبرند؛ چهره اش دگرگون میشود، و بدنش بهبود مییابد، آنها به «دررو» مأموریت میدهند، تا به دنیای «طلایی»ها نفوذ کند، به قدرت برسد، و جامعه را از درون ویران کند؛ اما ورود به انستیتو، جایی که «طلایی»های جوان، و گزینش شده آموزش میبییند، چالش برانگیز است، «دررو» متوجه میشود که بازیهای جنگ آنان، بیشتر از آنچه تصورش را میکرده، خشن و مرگبار است، و ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 04/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.9k followers
December 27, 2017
Darn this book is GOOD!

Pierce Brown is a freaking mastermind. Red Rising is a blend of science-fiction and dystopia with reference to History's greatest conquerors and Greek mythology, and the result is savage.
“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.”

Darrow is a Red, working in the mines below the surface of Mars in order to make Mars inhabitable and secure the future of mankind. Reds are mostly slaves, but he has accepted his fate, thinking he's making sacrifices for the next generations, only to discover that everything he's been told by the Gold caste, the ruthless leading caste, is a lie. After a tragic event that leaves him craving revenge, he is approached by the rebels and given a mission; to infiltrate the ranks of the Gold and destroy them. But to do so he must become one of them. He is admitted to the Institute, the school that prepares the most promising Gold for positions of power, but life in the Institute is a constant war. It's a road paved with betrayal, massacres and monstrocities. Darrow is determined to excel, to rise as a Gold only to bring them down as a Red. For his people. For his family. For her.
“I am the Reaper and death is my shadow.”

The first thing you need to know about Red Rising is that it is ranked among YA books due to the age of the main characters, but it's not a typical YA book. It is brutal, with explicit moments of violence and blood that make your stomach protest, but such brutality does not deter you from loving it. It is part of the evolution of Darrow, of being a good person doing ugly things to achieve a higher purpose, of sacrificing your soul to save many, to rebuilt a society that kills her own children.

The second thing you need to know about Red Rising is that the blurbs compare it to the Hunger Games, which, to be candid, is a poor comparison. Both books have in common the fight-to-death-in-a-secluded-area trope, but Red Rising is the one nailing it; it features politics, intrigue, sieges, genious strategies, feeble and strong alliances, it shows the path to forging a leader that earns the respect of his followers. It is all-engrossing, masterly crafted war games, a race to outmaneuver the enemy and step on him to reach the top.
Kill or be killed.
Deceive or be deceived.

It is conquest in its most glorious form.
It is uprising, in its subtlest form.
It is addiction.
“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.”

For the sake of honesty, I have to admit that sometimes the terms used were confusing, and I struggled to keep up with the hierarchy and the ranks of the Society. But after Darrow's admission to the Institute, it didn't matter. I was swept off my feet and dived into an intricate and vivid world, I howled in the woods, I wore a wolf's skin and carved scythes in the dark, I stole horses and food, I lost friends to death and treason, I feared the Jackal and shouted “Pax au Telemanus!” until my throat went hoarse. And I was left thirsty for more.

“Break the chains, my love.”

One of the many things I admired in Pierce Brown's writing is that he blurred the lines between right and wrong, necessity and volition. There were bad Golds, those arrogant, spoiled bastards who lusted for power in its most abominable forms, like rape, but there were also good, loyal Golds, who won your heart. Sevro is the greatest example, and so is Roque, and everything was fine until you realised that they're the enemy. That Darrow must eventually betray them in order to deliver justice and free his people. And while Darrow is an impulsive character, flawed, guided by his rage, he is burning bright and consuming everything in his path, his narrative is captivating to the point you can't separate his thoughts from yours. He views those people as his friends, his family, and you can't miss the irony that there will be a moment when he shall have to choose which one matters the most.
“My son, my son
Remember the chains
When gold ruled with iron reins
We roared and roared
And twisted and screamed
For ours, a vale
of better dreams”

Red Rising is an enthralling novel, with its ferocity and radiant world and devious characters, and therefore I kneel and pledge my loyalty to Pierce Brown.

You can find this review and more on BookNest!
Profile Image for Ikram.
211 reviews1,280 followers
February 10, 2017
Holy bloody gory damn shit. This book you guys.


I feel like Darrow would benefit from some basic life advice so here it goes.

Basic Life Advice 101.

It's really not that hard. I'm sure you can do it, Darrow.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Pax and we all know what that means.

If you're considering reading this book. I would HIGHLY encourage you to do so. It has exceeded all my expectations.

Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts.
Due to popular demand, I'm finally reading this book. I hope it's as great as you guys say it is.

Also, Pierce Brown is bae.

Also, I ship Piersha.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 36,568 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.