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Fighting-Heavy Dystopia | Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising is the type of book that puts you in mind of these words: Intense. Death. Rage. Power. That should tell you a lot.

Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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red rising pierce brown book review

Title & Author: Red Rising (The Red Rising Trilogy) by Pierce Brown

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy – Dystopia

Release Date: January 28, 2014

Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1

Publisher: Del Rey Random House

How I Got the Book: ARC via NetGalley


“The war begins…

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent 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. Mars is habitable – and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow 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..”

In the Minority

I tweeted this a week ago…

red rising book review

…and sadly I was talking about Red Rising. AGH!

I very much wanted to love this book. It has an insanely high overall rating on Goodreads (4.3/5), and I’ve only seen rave reviews for it.

You might be thinking, what’s her deal? Believe me, I asked myself the same question.

Let’s start off with the positives – because they exist and are important.

Red Rising offers a completely fresh look at dystopia and science fiction. There’s your typical anti-establishment hero (Darrow) and he’s hell bent on taking down those in power…from the inside. The dedication Darrow shows to righting wrongs and correcting lies is stunning.

His anguish and rage radiate off the page. I very much appreciated the attention to emotion and what drives people. Sometimes dystopias can seem very “this is for the good of all” in their reasonings behind shaking things up, but with Darrow you always know it’s personal and raw and deep.

Which only makes him all the more badass.

And, the world is very fleshed out. There’s a lot of detail in how things work: the caste system is based off colors, and Golds are the highest. You are born into your role and cannot ever ascend or shift your color.

With all that awesomeness, where did it go wrong?

For me, Red Rising started so strong. It had an immediate hook (and it’s a gut-wrencher too) with such a strong trajectory. I thought I knew in general how things might progress once the “big reveal” took place.

Then it all went downhill. The next half (or maybe like 35-40 percent) of the book took a very different turn that I wasn’t expecting. It was so heavy in strategy and teams and maneuvering that I completely lost interest.

I knew it would end. I knew it wouldn’t be prolonged in other books, but I just couldn’t. War in books – especially when certain moves or fighting acts are described – are just not my thing.

The story became a series of attack and defense moves. It lost its excitement and suspense altogether in this part.

From there, I coasted through to the end.


I had some real problems with the super description-heavy fighting and war games type deal going on in the book. That being said, the world of Red Rising is intricate and interesting enough and the hero clever and purposeful enough to keep readers going. But, I’m not calling it quits yet. I will definitely check out book two in the Red Rising series.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.