Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Dystopia, Recommendations, Review
Image from Goodreads
Title: Red Rising
Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: Jan 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.’
These are the opening two lines of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising . Who wouldn’t want to read on? These sentences had a big impact on me a defiantly encouraged me to read further as I was intrigued.
Red Rising is set in a dystopian/futuristic society living on Mars where the population are segregated by the colour of their hair. The gold are the hierarchy , the supreme if you will, at the bottom are the Reds, who are treated no better than slaves.
The main character, Darrow, is a hot headed, confident teenager who at times let his anger get the best of him. He was portrayed as a violent youth whose life is ruled by his past rash actions. Despite his tendency to be aggressive as a character he was actually very likeable, I found myself being drawn to him. This is unusual for me, as I generally only connect with strong heroines/female characters. However, in this case I was able to form a connection with Darrow’s character further adding to the compelling nature of the plot. I think Darrow could become a hit character with other teens because often the author put in him in scenarios which young people may be able to relate to, his decisions were often quite realistic.
Darrow  is a red, enslaved by his masters, the gold, since birth. He was made to dig with all the other reds but what happens when he begins to unravel the web of lies that surround Mars.
However, as much as I liked Darrow, my favorite character was Darrow’s female sidekick, Mustang, her feisty, aggressive nature reminded me of myself. She is a strong, independent girl who would not allow herself to be controlled by any of the dominating, male characters. My favorite chapter in the whole book featured Mustang, it was the main battle within Red Rising, I think her character brightened up the dark war story and added a touch of comedy.
Initially, I didn’t think I would enjoy Red Rising because I did not feel as if I liked the genre (dystopian/war) however, after reading the book, I can say that it is an amazing collaboration of numerous genres. I would definitely consider reading more dystopian/war genres in the future.
Although, I did find the first few chapters confusing and difficult to follow, I think this was because a large number of characters seemed to appear in the opening chapter. The lack of introductions meant I didn’t know who the characters or how they related to the plot which made it difficult to read. I found that I was dropped straight into the action without introductions.
The writing style in Red Rising is quite formal, in certain chapters the language style seemed out of place because in many of the war scenes the style did not seem appropriate. Midway through the story I felt as if the writing altered to a less formal approach which, in my opinion, transformed the story in a positive way; it especially suited the battle scenes. Whether this writing style change was intentional or not it worked and, in my opinion, improved the book.
I would most certainly recommend this amazing book to others; although I would say that due to the inclusion of violence, horror and mature themes as well as the use of a large variety of curse words, Red Rising is more suited to 13+
I believe that Red Rising has the potential to be very successful in the teen market, I would recommend it for fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner.
Be warned Red Rising ends on a cliffhanger, the results of which will be revealed in Book 2, Golden Son. I for one, cannot wait, it is firmly on my to-buy list!
Red Rising is a fantastic page turner, the plot had me desperately hanging onto every word. I would thoroughly recommend it to others. The characters were brilliant, their exciting lives draw you in and enable you to form a connection with a variety of characters, not just Darrow.
A great book and I can’t wait for the next in the series!

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