Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Just finished reading Red rising by Pierce Brown – I confess that I went into this with maybe slightly negative feelings.  I was feeling a little bit meh about another futuristic dystopian novel.  Lets face it Collins was to dystopia what Meyers was to Vampires and frankly it became a little bit tedious to say the least.  So, let’s just assume I was going to be a little bit of a tougher nut to crack on this novel than I sometimes feel when I start reading.  This is the first thing that makes it so much more surprising that I totally enjoyed this book.  Not only did Brown win me over but he gripped me and had the pages turning so fast that you could be forgiven for thinking I was Johnny 5 – need input!

Okay, the novel gets off to a fairly quick start.  We’re introduced in short measure to the mining community and I’m talking about the mining community on Mars!  These people work bloody hard – they have to make a quota in order to eat.  The idea of luxuries is ridiculous beyond measure.  These people have nothing – however, what they do have is love and passion in abundance.  In that respect they are rich and their families bathe in the wealth of love that they all hold for each other.   Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of harsh competition between the different families, which is understandable given the benefits, but they all still have a fairly tight knit community.  Now, all that, came across in fairly short measure.  Brown has a wonderful eloquence with words that imparts knowledge without impeding the story.  What happens next is eye opening for you the reader and for Darrow who is the main protagonist.  Yes, we’ve both been taken for a ride here – by someone.  There is some pretty deep shit going on here!  And, I don’t want to give it away – however, this is a review so I have to write something and I’m going to move the story on without telling you exactly why.  Suffice to say that Darrow finds himself in a situation where he is part of a team, warring against other teams for the prize of becoming the best.  This is not a fight to the death – this is a game of survival and tactics, a game of politics and making friends where you least suspected.  A game where you can rise to the very top.

So, onto a more critical analysis.  The setting.  Easy to visualise.  Nothing too over the top in the way of future sophisticated scenery just a glimpse, not enough to date the story too quickly.  Basically the people on earth have discovered ways of colonising other planets.  They need a certain gas (found beneath the exterior of Mars – hence the miners) in order to do so.

The characters – we have a brief glimpse at the beginning of the miners and they really do have the pretty fuzzy end of the lollypop, which makes the reveal so much worse.  Obviously the main character is Darrow – and he’s a dilemma.  He starts off the story with a fire in his belly.  He is on a mission which is not necessarily the one he wants but it’s the only chance he has.  Having read the book I’m not sure about Darrow  I don’t dislike him, in fact the opposite, however I think that Brown is clearly trying to get across how a person is influenced by their environment.  Darrow is in a competition and he wants to win. Of course he wants to win for a purpose and yet reading the story does he also start to become a tiny little bit like the people he most hates – anyway, I move into other realms.  There are plenty of characters, slimy two timers, hench-can’t-be-stopped-don’t-mess-with-me-mothers and straight-up-crazy-arsed-in-a good-way-runs-with-wolves-and-scares-the-shit-out-of-everyone types.  Basically there are good guys and bad guys on every team, in fact there are right and wrong people in every strata – and that’s the way it is and it starts to come out as the story goes along.

Anyway, the whole dystopia boils down to the fact that society has become segregated.  People are born and live into a colour that defines them for the rest of their lives.  Reds are miners, Golds are the top echelon of society and then there are a whole variety of colours in-between.  Looked at in that way and in the way that the book is written it seems almost an exaggerated take on the class system.  There are more stratas than upper, middle and lower class but at the end of the day it boils down to the uppers and lowers which are basically the ones where the disparity are most likely to show issues in any society.  As an example, you have people of the upper stratas killing time and flying around on their hover boots chasing young girls to frolic away the afternoon whilst others of the lower factions are struggling to make a living and stay alive.

What makes this book so readable and so intense is the competition that Darrow becomes a part of.  It’s really tough.  I don’t know whether this is YA, but I personally thought it was due to the age of the main protagonist and yet this gets down right dirty and ugly. This isn’t a simple game of survival – it gets much more tough than that.  It’s a gritty read and also reads almost like a straight up fantasy given the setting which during the games is almost mediaeval.

Anyway, this is a very cryptic review because I don’t really want to give too much away.  I enjoyed this. I thought the writer’s style was addictive.  I found the whole competition intriguing and I’m perfectly sure that I’ve missed a lot of nuances that I’m sure everybody else will pick up on.  So read it and tell me what I missed.

A book which I have no hesitation in recommending.

I received a copy of this from the publishers through Net Galley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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21 Responses to “Red Rising by Pierce Brown”

  1. mmileti

    I had the exact same attitude when I picked up this book, but I ended up loving it. It kind of bothers me that some books are labeled as YA simply because of the age of the protagonist, when the content is undeniably adult. This book was a thrill ride, and full of mature content and themes. Darrow’s crises of identity and his moral ambiguity are extremely thought provoking. I love how the author poses the question, “does how you look on the outside affect who you are on the inside?” Actually that is a very simplistic way of putting it, but you get the idea.

    Wow, sorry to write so much! I just realized a never wrote a full review of this book and I still have a lot of feelings I need to express about the story. I guess I’ll have to put this on my ever growing “to-review list.”

    Great review by the way!

    • lynnsbooks

      Brilliant. I love your comments. They encompass even more that I forgot to put in my review. Thanks. Lynn. 🙂

  2. Michael

    I read this one a while back and I wasn’t as big a fan as you are. (Or as many others I’ve encountered are). I felt the book was a bit slow in its start and was just getting interesting when it ended.

    • lynnsbooks

      That’s a shame but we can’t all love the same books at the end of the day – providing we all share a few in common that’s what makes things interesting.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Geeky Book Snob

    5 stars for giving a shout out to Short Circuit. Number 5!

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I loved this book! I’m generally wary when it comes to dystopians as well, and maybe there’s some merit to the comparisons calling this one “The Hunger Games on Mars” but I thought this was so beautifully written and compelling. I almost cried within the first 50 pages because of what happened to Darrow and his wife.

    • lynnsbooks

      If I’m honest I think I enjoyed it more than The Hunger Games or, at least, apart from the dystopian scenario I didn’t really get the comparison. It was a different type of game after all. It wasn’t supposed to be to the death but more to see how people reacted and teamed up. I kind of thought it was more like Lord of the Flies to be honest. The way people’s more brutal side came out and the rush to be the best.
      I couldn’t believe the first 50 pages – particularly Darrow – I was like ‘what just happened’?? I will look forward to the next.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Nathan

    I was a bit more meh than most. This is a book more than any other I felt I have been on the wrong side of the internet for. I enjoyed it enough but cannot for the life of me figure out where all the five star ratings are coming from.

    • lynnsbooks

      Haha, see Michael’s comment below – he also wasn’t feeling it. I just really liked certain elements of it – the different teams, etc. and I also think it will be interesting to see how Darrow develops. You can already see that he’s forming allegiances with certain of the Golds and I think sometimes he forgets completely what he’s actually there for. I’m keen to see how that develops.
      Lynn 😀

  6. lipsyy

    Great review, Johnny 5! 🙂

  7. jenclair

    🙂 Reading the comments has been almost as interesting as the review! Especially the one about all the five star ratings–we are all so personally invested (or not) in our books!

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – and that’s the beauty of blogging really. You can share so many books in common but then heartily disagree over others.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I really enjoyed this one.it was an addictive read for me, one that cuts into my precious sleeping time! But after my book club read it, I know not everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. Glad to see you left it feeling positive 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I really liked it. I thought all the fighting between the different camps was compelling. I know there was a lot of comparison to Hunger Games but I wasn’t feeling that so much – part from it being a futuristic type dystopian. The games were different and actually I thought Red Rising came over as slightly more adult than young adult.
      Lynn 😀

  9. Golden Son by Pierce Brown | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] this isn’t the kind of series that you can jump in and out of – you need to read Red Rising first and you need to be aware of potential spoilers below.  Basically, you need to know the […]

  10. Sunday Summary | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Son by Pierce Brown, No.2 in the series and so bloody good. Review of Red Rising […]

  11. Ode to Summer past… |

    […] Red Rising by Pierce Brown – finally, I’ve already read No.2 and it was equally excellent. […]

  12. ‘The truth is, you’re the weak, and I am the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, I’m trying real hard’ |

    […] Red Rising by Pierce Brown – in which a teenage boy called Darrow tries to help his people break free from their lives as miners and almost slaves to the richer upper echelons of society known as the Golds.  I wondered if this one really counted – as it’s not really a battle in the first book – it’s more about infiltration.  But, ultimately it is about the good fight. […]

  13. “My only love sprung from my only hate.” … |

    […] Red Rising by Pierce Brown – in which Darrow and Mustang become involved in a relationship.  Again, this is far from the central theme of the story.  The reason it’s forbidden – Darrow and Mustang are from different ‘class’ structures all together.  Darrow is a Red, born into the mines and Mustang is a Gold, born into one of the most elite and powerful houses.  On top of this – well (spoiler alert) Darrow is all made up as a Gold – the treachery!  Doubly forbidden. […]

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