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Red Rising – Pierce Brown

It’s been a while since I read a book that I was enamoured with. I mean, there was The Lunar Chronicles, but that feels like it was a long time ago! I know it wasn’t, but it just feels like it was. I think it’s because I’ve been reading a few books that I just didn’t fully get on with which has made that time feel longer.

That changed with Red Rising. I loved this book, even though I felt like I was all “Huh? What the heck is going on?” for the most of it.


“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-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 livable 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 already 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.

As soon as we are dropped into Darrow’s world you know something is off. If not in the first chapter, then definitely by the third. Darrow is mining an element critical to the terraforming of Mars. Naturally, things aren’t what they seemed, and Mars has already been terraformed, and his race of people, the Reds, are actually enslaved by the system – they just don’t know it.

Society is divided into colours. Reds, browns, golds, silvers, pinks. Each colour has a role to play in this society. Whether they know the truth of the matter – like all above the Reds do – or not, they have their roles to play. Weirdly, each colour in society is reflected in their appearance. Reds have red hair, red eyes, golds have gold hair, gold eyes – you get the picture.

Darrow is transformed from a lowly red into a gold. Through circumstances that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil your read if you do end up picking up this book – Darrow is to go on a rampage through gold society. He’s recruited to take down society from the inside.

One of the reviews I read on GoodReads before coming to my own review mentioned that the book reads like a communist manifesto, which I can sort of get but I didn’t get that feeling from this one. Darrow is looking to change society, to change the balance of power. Vengeance is his to be gained, and in order to get that he has to infiltrate society, join the school and obtain a high enough position afterward.

I’m not going to lie – I thought I was going to have a little form of Harry Potter on my hands here, so imagine my surprise when it came down to a Hunger Games kill out, which passed as the school to which they all attended. They had to rise, to win the game, be the best and not be taken.

My favourite character was probably Mustang (aka Virginia), so I was surprised about how the end of her story came about – or should I say the revelations. I’m glad she didn’t do what Darrow thought she was going to do – there was already a lot of betrayal in the “game”. She was badass, she looked after Darrow when he needed it, and then vice versa. But despite how awesome she was, she still felt secondary to Darrow and his story.

In fact, all the characters felt secondary and most of them a little more than cursory mentions in comparison to all of Darrow. This is probably where the story falls down the most – like could it have been at all impossible to have given some of the others a little more credit and screen time? I think because of this the relationships between some of the characters  – like Darrow and Roque for instance – felt more meaningless than they actually were. “Brothers” was thrown around with meaning, but it didn’t actually make me feel like either of them meant it.

That being said, I can’t wait to read the next book “Golden Son”. I hope it’s as good, if not better than this one! It’s actually one of those series that’s really difficult to define. It’s not really YA, definitely Science Fiction, but could kind of fit in the two?

Also: no Insta-romance! Score!

What are you reading at the moment?