REVIEW – Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Title – Red Rising
Author – Pierce Brown
Publication date –  January 28th 2014
Publisher – Hodder and Stoughton
Genre – Dystopian/Science Fiction
Rating – ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Red Rising
I love this cover!

I’m sorry for the lack of reviews lately, hopefully more will be posted soon. My review writing is a little bit rusty so I’m trying to get back into it! Feel free to correct any errors. 🙂

I received this book from Hodder and Stoughton via bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s 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 on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that 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.

– Goodreads Description

I really didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The plot was fast paced and gripping, especially once you really got into it. It was totally different from other dystopian novels I’ve read and I found the premise really fascinating.

The style in which the book is written makes it easy to understand and empathise with Darrow as he finds out that his whole life and the lives of the ‘Red’s’ are based off of lies. It turns out that the Red’s aren’t actually preparing Mars for other people, they’re basically maintaining it whilst the rest of the rest of the of the other colours are living in luxury and have been for years whilst the Red’s have been enslaved underground. What the ‘Red’s’ had been forced to endure under false pretenses and how harsh the setting was made me really start to connect and sympathise with Darrow’s character. Pierce Brown made it easy to imagine the conditions these people had been forced to live in and understand the horror of Darrow finding out that he’s been lied to all of his life.

The colour hierarchy really intrigued me and I hope we get to find out more in the next book. I really liked learning about the mines at the beginning of the book and throughout Darrow’s memories, I found it very interesting. I also can’t wait to find out more about the ‘Sons of Ares’ (the rebels) next time too.

The action kept me hooked, I couldn’t put the book down when I really got into reading it and I ended up finishing the last half of the book in one sitting. I was really intrigued by this ‘school’ that Darrow had been ordered to infiltrate and horrified by how grueling the ‘tests’ were. I loved how complex the plot was and how significant some parts of the story later came to be. Sometimes I couldn’t believe that the book was actually YA with how violent it was.

Despite really liking the book I did have a few problems with it as well. (Spoilers ahead) The age-old trope of killing a man (or in this case boy’s) wife in order to drive the plot line, focusing the plot on his revenge kind of annoyed me.

(TW – Rape) I also had a problem with how rape seemed to be used as a plot device, sometimes it was even justified by the other characters and I found it particularly disturbing how some characters didn’t seem to view the after effects of rape as something to warrant concern. I’d definitely recommend looking into whether this could be triggering to you before picking the book up.

I think that the female characters were treated secondary to Darrow’s character arc and weren’t given the chance to come into their own. I wish we had got to know more about them and that they’d been given more time to grow as characters. I’m hoping that the portrayal of female characters isn’t as problematic in the later books.

Even though I did have a few problems with the book I definitely want to pick up the next book, especially after the way it ended. I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an imaginative, fast paced dystopian but I would check beforehand if you think that some of the content may trigger you.

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