Red Rising by Pierce Brown | Book Review

Part of taking vacation for me at least is choosing to read books that I have not yet made time for but am DESPERATE to get to. Chief among that is LONG books with lots of world building and story line and action. The very last book I read on vacation, that I finished just upon landing at my final airport for the trip was Red Rising by Pierce Brown and what a hell of a choice to make. Reader friends, this book blew my bloodydamn mind, to use slang from the book. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. This book is pretty much the definition of epic. Like after reading the book I wanted to watch Spartacus and start revolutions and run laps. Because pretty much every great book that I read makes me want to run laps.

Set way in the future, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising opens on a bleak note. Earth is essentially dying and so other planets need to be colonized. Part of this colonization involves mining for materials to make the various planets inhabitable. Darrow is a Red, meaning he is the lowest on the human food chain. It also means that he lives below ground on Mars and works as a miner. He is sixteen years old and married to his childhood sweetheart, Eo, who is very small and sweet, but kind of tough too. Anyways, the Reds have a dance and a song that is completely forbidden. To do the dance or sing the song means you will die. Darrow’s father has been executed for doing the dance — granted this happens when Darrow is very young.

Each month, Darrow hopes to help his community of Reds win the Laurels which means more food and medicine for everyone in his community. This month, Darrow thinks he has made the risk that will cause them to win. Alas, victory is snatched away and Darrow is PISSED. However, this is the least of the treachery committed by those at the top of society – the Golds to Darrow and his people. I won’t spoilers you all because each plot twist is worth discovering on your own as you read. Just know that the plot of this book hinges around Darrow impersonating and infiltrating the Golds.

Darrow is this complex and interesting character. He is consistently evolving and changing and adapting. You see, we start the book and honestly it’s kind of like he’s in Plato’s Cave what with all the things that he doesn’t know and then the light is shined and it’s like WHOA huge revelation. And Darrow’s reaction — even better. What I love is that he starts the book and he has got this sense of injustice but he does not act on it. Darrow knows that his life isn’t fair but he’s not about to start a revolution over it. Oh no, instead it takes a catalyst. And even then, even when he is in contact with the Golds, Darrow’s mindset is not black and white, but grey and evolving. I loved how deeply involved Darrow’s character is – after finishing Red Rising I felt like I had a great sense of who Darrow is as a person and just mad respect for him too. He is a total Spartacus is what I am saying.

Pierce Brown not only excels with his characterization of Darrow and with the plotting of Red Rising but also in world building. I use the phrase richly imagined all the time because I am a total cliche book blogger, but for real that is the best phrase to describe this book. Like, there’s Mars and it’s below ground is the worst. These men work all day in the mines and not only do they deal with the dangers of mining but also have to contend with pit vipers which are these poisonous snakes that try to rip you open and burrow inside you to lay eggs and hatch babies. Straight up scary. Then on top of that there’s the cultures within this book. The society is very stratified with the Golds being the best and brightest. Even the Golds are divided, with the sub categories of Bronze and Pixie which are not as good as the Peerless Scared. I won’t go into what that is because you know it’s best to find out on your own. Anyways beyond that there’s Silvers, Pinks, Greys, Greens, Yellows and more for the division of society. The society is actually quite Roman inspired. As I read it, I kept finding myself blown away by how intricately detailed the sociology of this book is. Seriously, Brown has got writing chops.

There is absolutely romance within Brown’s Red Rising. YES there’s kissing and sex. Hallelujah! It doesn’t even come across as awkward. So, when we start the book, Darrow is married to Eo. She’s the girl that everyone in his community wanted but only has eyes for Darrow. As soon as they are old enough to marry, they do so. They live an okay life. They are very hungry like their neighbors and friends. Darrow wants to work harder to win the Laurels and more food for Eo, primarily. When this doesn’t happen and when tragedy strikes, we find that Eo is more of a firebrand than expected. I love this. I loved that Eo surprised me. I also loved how Darrow retains his feelings for Eo long after he has left the underground mines of Mars to join up with a mission for the Sons of Ares. ALSO! There’s more romance beyond Eo. That’s all I can really and truly say.

For such a long book, Red Rising is on point with pace. I read this book in like a day, compared to another sci fi book which was half the length and took me twice as long to read. I was completely sucked into Darrow’s story. I guess if you are anything like me and into a book where it has that whole if we burn then you burn with us kind of vibe, you’ll likely LOVE Red Rising by Pierce Brown as much as I did.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I LOVE, LOVE the Red Rising trilogy. I almost want to say that Goldenson was better than Red Rising just because it was so jam packed with action and suspense. Also team Sevro for life.
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  2. I keep seeing this in my library feed when I’m searching but I didn’t know ANYONE who had read it, so I’m very happy to read this review!

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