Red Rising

Red Rising

Title: Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown

Series: Red Rising Saga, #1

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Release Date: January 28th 2014


Four Stars

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the colour-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 liveable 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 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.

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free. That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
She kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is content with his life. He’s never seen the surface of Mars but he knows the work he’s doing terraforming the planet is important, that it means one day his children will be able to walk on the surface of the planet. However when his wife’s desire for change, for a better life for their people, gets her killed Darrow is recruited by the Sons of Ares and discovers the Golds have been lying to his people for years.

This was the second time I picked up Red Rising so I found it a lot easier to get into the story when I knew what was coming. The first time I read this book I very nearly DNF-ed it, simply because of the slow set up at the beginning of the story. We’re introduced to Darrow and discover more about the world he lives in and the nuances of the colour system that has been formed on Mars, which is all information we need to move the story forwards but makes for a slow moving plot.

“You’re of use because you’re more than a weapon. When your wife died, she didn’t just give you a vendetta. She gave you her dream. You’re its keeper. Its maker.”

The planet that Darrow and his fellow Reds have been risking their lives to terraform is already inhabited by the higher colours. To take them down, to avenge Eo’s death, Darrow becomes one of the Golds and joins their institute where the next generation of leaders prove themselves. However it’s a brutal game Darrow finds himself playing, and the line inside him between Red and Gold starts to blur as he plans to bring down his enemies from the inside.

It’s only after the revelation that the Golds have been living on the surface of Mars like kings that the plot picks up pace, and from there it doesn’t slow down at all as Darrow enters the institute and rises up over the other Golds as a force to be reckoned with. There was so much danger in this first book, so many unpredictable twists, that I was never sure who would survive the institute which made for an addictive story.

…The Characters

“They pushed and pushed for so long. They knew I was something dangerous, something different. Sooner or later, they had to know I would snap and come to cut them down. Or perhaps they think I’m still a child. The fools. Alexander was a child when he ruined his first nation.”

Darrow goes through an incredible transformation in this first book and we travel with him as he becomes a force to be reckoned with, each day in the institute among the Golds changing him more and more. As a Low Red Darrow was a boy who couldn’t find the strength to save his wife, but as a Gold he conquers the trials he faces in the games and turns into an aggressive yet respected leader.

However that’s not to say he’s infallible. Darrow makes mistakes, he creates allies only to lose them but he doesn’t let his failings defeat him he just comes back stronger than before. He is a tough character, determined and brutal, and uses the memory of his wife and her dream to keep him going even when all the odds are against him.

“She will not come back, but her beauty, her voice, will echo until the end of time. She believed in something beyond herself, and her death gave her voice power it didn’t have in life.”

I really like Darrow’s character, he had some incredible development in Red Rising, however I felt that Eo could have been better developed. Darrow and Eo talk about bringing change to the Reds but Eo chooses to rebel in a way that she knows will mean she is executed, a way many Reds before her have rebelled, and it made her death seem pointless. In my mind Eo wasn’t given much depth or personality other than as a means to move Darrow forwards and give him a reason to want the Gold’s destroyed.

“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 were a lot of interesting characters in the institute, each of them having their own unique relationship with Darrow. Cassius is Darrow’s closest friend, but there is a secret Darrow is keeping from him that could destroy the brotherhood the two have. Mustang goes from enemy to uneasy ally to close confidant as the months spent in the trial forge new friendships and rivalries. Jackal is an unknown enemy, casting his shadow over every move Darrow makes in the game.

Other than Darrow my favourite character in Red Rising was Sevro. He is constantly overlooked, not only by his house but also by his competition, due to the fact that he isn’t a ‘perfect Gold’ but he’s vicious with a very cunning mind. Sevro becomes one of Darrow’s main supports and remains incredibly loyal to him as the game unfolds.

…The Setting

“Things are set in stone. Things are well ordered. Reds at the bottom, everyone else standing on our backs. Now you’re looking at me and you’re realizing that we don’t bloodydamn like it down there. Red is rising.”

I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between Red Rising and The Hunger Games and while there are some similarities, mainly children being put into an arena for a brutal competition, there are more differences. The world created in Red Rising is incredibly well written, and a lot of thought has been put into the history and the reasons behind the war on Earth. There’s plenty of politics in Red Rising, not only when it comes to the statuses of the different colours but also inside the institute. As Darrow rises to the top there are plenty of people, both inside the games and outside, waiting for him to make the wrong move so they can knock him down before he gets too powerful.

If you can get past the slow start to Red Rising then I feel like I can guarantee this will end up being a favourite book of yours. The character development is amazing, the world building incredibly detailed, and the plot very addictive when the story finally picks up pace. Red Rising was a brilliant start to this series, and it’s left a lot open for the second book in the trilogy.

What did you think of Red Rising? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

50 thoughts on “Red Rising

  1. I definitely feel like this book took a few pages to really get into and to get your head around what was going on etc. However, as soon s I was there, I was completely hooked! I loved the setting and the characters and the lessons that Darrow learns along the way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it’s what made it easier to get into the story and enjoy Red Rising the second time around, the fact that I knew the action would pick up and I’d be swept away by the story again. It’s a good book to start the series off, and a lot to build up as well so it was well written n my opinion. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Beth! ❤
    Great review! I am glad that you liked this book! Sometimes second time is the charm 🙂
    The synopsis of this book captured my attention right away. It sounds like a book that I might want to pick up one day, although I am a bit hesitant about the slow beginning (I am a bit impatient with those haha!) However I put it on my TBR for now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sophie, thanks so much! 😀 When it comes to this series it really was second times the charm because I LOVED it. 🙂
      I’d definitely recommend this one Sophie, I think if maybe you go in knowing it will start slow you’ll have a better chance if enjoying it right? Also once you get past the slow beginning this one is an epic read! 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful review, Beth. I’m glad you gave this another chance. It just seems like one of those YA series that every YA reader has to read hahah It does sound unique, with the politics and all. I’d be down to try this series out someday. It feels like something that is in a league of its own, but then again, something is holding me back from trying it myself. Great review though. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the rest of the series! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lashaan, and yeah I’m glad I finally got around to this book and the series again. It is one of those books everyone has either read or currently has on their to-read list but honestly it’s so amazing it’s something I think everyone will find something to enjoy about it you know? I’d definitely recommend picking this series up, you never know you may end up loving it more than I do! 😀
      Thanks again Lashaan. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The start of Red Rising was a tad slow for me but the Institute really put it in hit high gear for me and I was sucked in and now I’m addicted haha My favorite character was Sevro and I’m currently reading Golden Son and am impatiently waiting for Sevro to show up haha
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was exactly the same for me. The second the Institute was introduced it was like everything kicked into another gear and the story just didn’t stop! 😀 Sevro was my favourite character as well, and hopefully you don’t have too long to wait until he appears in Golden Son! Where are you up to at the moment? 🙂
      Thanks so much Angela. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m about halfway through with Golden Son now and I’m loving having Darrow and Sevro together again causing all sorts of reckless clever mischief haha I’m so curious to see how this book will end and how Morning Star will unfold after it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You still got a lot of action and a lot of great Darrow and Sevro scenes to come. So far Morning Star is my favourite of the series (as much as I enjoyed Iron Gold, Morning Star is still that little bit better in my opinion!)
        If you’re anything like me the second you’ve finished Golden Son you’ll want to jump into Morning Star! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad that you liked it more this time around!!
    (also sorry for being so inactive with comments recently!!)
    I’ve actually heard loads about this series because a friend of mine read them a few years ago and I remember that he really enjoyed them, but I’ve always put them off for some reason?? Maybe I’ll read them soon!!

    Great review!! I love how you did a reread review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely enjoyed this book as much re-reading it this time around (and that’s all right Lu!)
      I’d highly recommend this series as well, it’s just incredible. I think it’s safe to say Pierce Brown has become one of my all-time favourite authors! 😀 I really hope you enjoy this book if you pick it up one day, and thanks Lu! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much!! Honestly, I have no idea when I’m gonna read them?? I’m so behind at reading at the moment?? I’ve read one book this month and I feel really “meh” about it??
        IDK. I’ll try read them soon!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely review, Beth! This book is one of the popular books I haven’t read just yet, and to be honest, I don’t know if I will or if this could be a book for me? :/ I am glad you enjoyed it though, the character development sounds fantastic and I’m glad you got past that slow beginning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie. 🙂 Oh the Red Rising Saga is definitely a popular series but it’s such an incredible series at the same time, honestly there’s nothing else like it out there. If you do end up picking up Red Rising one day I really hope you enjoy it, but yeah if you don’t think this will be a book for you I guess give it a miss.
      I think when it came to the slow beginning it helped that this was a re-read, so I knew the plot would pick up pace soon! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah yeah lots of people find the opening slow (I personally loved all the ancient Rome references so was surprisingly sucked in)- glad you persevered and ended up liking it 😀 I loved Darrow- especially cos he was both brilliant and fallible. I agree about Eo- I suppose there just wasn’t enough space to develop her. Sevro’s AWESOME! Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The world building was brilliant in this book, and I think the beginning was necessary to understand the story when the plot finally started moving, but I was only really hooked when the action actually started. Darrow is such an amazing character, and unfortunately I can’t say my opinion on Eo improved with the later books in this series.
      Sevro is probably my all-time favourite character in this book. I LOVE him. ❤
      Thanks so much! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Nicole. 🙂 Yeah the whole trilogy was amazing, it’s definitely one of my favourites now and anything Pierce Brown writes is going to jump to the top of my to-read list. I’m currently reading Iron Gold now and so far it’s incredible! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I couldn’t shut up about Red Rising all of 2016? hahaha It’s true, the set up is terribly slow and his physical transformation was legit terrible to read for me. However, the entire Red Rising trilogy is one of my favorite out there. It made me feel so … ANGRY and that’s an emotion I barely let show. Darn it, I can remember shaking during some of the scenes and now I can only wait until my copy of Iron Gold is FINALLY dispatched.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like 2018 is going to be the year I don’t shut up about that series, especially considering we are getting two new books from Pierce Brown this year! 😀 Oh god yeah the physical transformation scenes were horrible, there were a few I had to skim over because they were hard to read but at the same time it was a great way to develop Darrow’s character a little more, show what he was willing to go through to achieve Eo’s dream.
      I really hope your copy is dispatched soon then, I’m currently reading Iron Gold now. It’s slow going because it’s a long book but I love it so far! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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