NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, BUZZFEED, GOODREADS AND SHELF AWARENESS
Pierce Brown's heart-pounding debut is the first book in a spectacular series that combines the drama of Game of Thrones with the epic scope of Star Wars.
'Pierce Brown's empire-crushing debut is a sprawling vision . . . Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow' - Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Pandemic
'[A] top-notch debut novel . . . Red Rising ascends above a crowded dystopian field' - USA Today
Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars, generations of people who spend their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that, one day, people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.
Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down at Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.
But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.
- ISBN10 1444758977
- ISBN13 9781444758979
- Publish Date 28 January 2014 (first published 1 January 2014)
- Publish Status Out of Print
- Out of Print 25 May 2015
- Publish Country GB
- Imprint Hodder & Stoughton
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 400
- Language English
This is one of those books with a lot of hype. And you know, hype isn’t always trustworthy? I’m so pleased to say that Red Rising is a solidly good book with an imaginative world, striking characters, and a whole lot of grit and spirit.
One of the foundations of a good science fiction novel is the science itself. Pierce Brown did a great job at striking balance with this. He didn’t over-explain scientific elements (that can be a sci-fi downfall), and he didn’t create anything too unreasonable. The society in Red Rising felt distantly futuristic, but possible. Some elements of old mythology had struck through the ages, for example the medical procedures far exceed what is currently available… bu still feeling probably centuries into the future. It was well done, especially because YA science fiction is often either pretentious or gratuitous.
I liked Darrow immediately for his streak of arrogance as well as his passion. He is a flawed protagonist, and things do not always go his way. The most impressive protagonists are like this – their struggles help them grow in the story and in the reader’s hearts. While Eo was not as notable to me as perhaps her legacy will prove, I did like other characters as the popped up. In particular, I enjoyed Mustang and Roque. I’m looking forward to seeing more of both of them in the ongoing series.
The plot kept me glued – the Institute was a little like The Poppy War, a little like the Harry Potter series, and written with the blunt rawness of the Dark Tower series. I adored the aesthetics of it. There’s a lot of gore in Red Rising – dismemberment, self-inflicted violence, rape for a start – and it’s important to know that going in. Many things happen off-stage, but there are bloody moments in the immediate storyline as well. None of the events were nonsensical – however brutal, each one held its purpose. I was constantly concerned for the characters’ well-being. Because this is a series, I knew Darrow would survive (although Brown got me concerned for a second at the beginning). But sometimes, I worried I was wrong. There’s a bit of drama, but if you’re looking for a high-action story about caste systems and war and infiltration of society… this is a good one.
Stylistically, this is a bit different than what many people are likely used to in sci-fi, especially YA sci-fi. Red Rising had a lot of action and world-building, and it’s structured in such a way that if it weren’t for the futuristic Mars setting, it would feel like high fantasy. High fantasy is my jam – I love it. But this will throw the unexpected reader. There are some moments where the scenes drag a little, but these are often amidst a flurry of high action sequences, and I believe the slower moments are needed for balance.
Generally, I just devoured this. I have a lot of feelings about the choices made, but all in good ways. Red Rising pulled me in enough that I felt passionately about characters and the plot direction, and as far as I am concerned, those are the best sorts of books.
Also the narrator is fantastic as well, so if you’re considering an audiobook, I highly recommend it. I had to speed it up to 1.5x for my personal tastes, but his voices and accents are great, and he holds your attention.
I love an underdog. I really do. Darrow was an easy character to root for. He is a reluctant hero who has the rebellion thrown on him without really wanting it. He does, however, throw himself completely into it.
This is only the first book in Darrow's story and this was a great introduction. When Darrow is thrown into the school it is easy to forget who the enemy really is.
Pierce throws you into this world and you have to quickly learn who is who and what their roles are. It's a steep learning curve and this story isn't for the faint-hearted that is for sure. It's brutal and gruesome and will have you in shock and awe many times.
There is so much I could say about this book but it's one of those ones where the less you know the better. I did enjoy this book but I wasn't chomping at the bit to start book two. I will read it but I'm happy to take a little break first.
Anyhow, I pressed on because rarely do I have it in me to DNF a book. Also, friends and reviews insisted things would get better. They were right, the plot took off. The writing style evolved too once the stakes grew — it became cruder. Some readers, I'm sure, enjoy that sort of language. I'm not really one of those but at at least it was less dull as a result. Besides, when primal instincts of characters surface, that's a fair choice of tone.
Plus, Darrow grew less dull as the book progressed. I wouldn't say he became relatable but I did want to know how things would turn out for him. Although, I found Sevro and Mustang far, far more interesting. They're the ones who defied expectations. Darrow's path on the plot arch was way too straight forward in the end.
That being said, I'm kind of done with dystopian games that adults force on youngsters for their personal entertainment. I'll still read The Hunger Games eventually (I know, I know!) but beyond that, they're starting to lack originality. What Red Rising did serve was brutality, which kept pushing the envelope, taunting me to guess the limits. That, more than anything else, is what made it an engrossing read after all.
Red Rising and its subsequent sequels hit the book world by storm. I’ve been hearing from friends who have read or listened to this series rave about it. So when the opportunity presented itself at MidAmeriConII to grab a free promotional copy, I jumped at the chance.
Red Rising is too much for me. Too much blood. Too much violence. Too much space. I just felt overwhelmed by everything in the story. I had the goal of finishing this one before Phoenix ComicCon which I did accomplish, but if I didn’t have that goal, I’m sure it would have taken me much longer to read. Maybe if I hadn’t pressed myself to finish the book, I could have taken breaks from the blood and violence and not have been so overwhelmed.
The world Darrow, our main character, lives in is amazing. The idea that humans could colonize Mars seems realistic based on advances in the private world of space travel. It doesn’t surprise me that humans find a way to ruin the colonization experiment that seems to be a mash up of the districts in The Hunger Games series and the profiling in the Divergent series. The unique twist on the hierarchy is that it is rooted in Roman mythology. So I had to search the dusty corners of my mind (and Wikipedia) to remind myself who the gods and goddesses were and their role in the Roman culture and how that connected to the story within Red Rising. The fact I made the effort to do a little research outside the novel, in my mind, is proof I enjoyed the story on some level.
I often forget that the Roman culture, which made many technological advances, was also bloody and violent—conquering the known world, gladiators, and crucifixion. This violence is magnified in Red Rising as Darrow and his fellow classmates move through their final challenge at school and get access to better and better tech and become more strategic about their battles. By the end, all the violence, blood and killing started to wear on me and I actually started to hate pretty much everyone in the story.
Was my experience with Red Rising entirely negative? No, Darrow’s mission and passion took me in until the violence ratcheted up to 11. At that point, all seemed lost and I couldn’t take it any more along with a two or three poor character reveals, on the whole I was disappointed with Red Rising in the end.
This review was originally posted on Second Run Reviews