Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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I received this book for free from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Red Rising by Pierce BrownRed Rising by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1
Published by Del Rey on January 28th 2014
Genres: Adult, Dystopia
Source: Random House of Canada
Buy on Amazon

Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future 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 joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

What an intense thrill ride! Red Rising gives us one meticulously built strategy game with a large cast of colorful characters who represent social status in a whole new perspective.

Ultimately, the Red Rising Trilogy is a story of rebellion, and this is its first chapter. Set on Mars, we’re introduced to an intimidating oligarchy government where your color decides your fate. Darrow, a Red – the lowest of the lows – is surgically enhanced to look like a Gold, and here’s hoping he can successfully infiltrate and beat the system. This whole color classification did not have me completely convinced, I will admit. Pinks for pleasure, Golds for “gods”, Reds for slaves and so on. No question that it’s fascinating, even not so far from the racial disparities that we have in our own history books, but I don’t see how such an extreme could be the result of evolution. I was hoping to get a more thorough look at the history behind this new world. Red Rising, however, is really just the beginning.

Darrow has a truly interesting character arc throughout this story. We start off with this grief stricken person who has just about given up on life. Someone who had simple desires and a reluctance to fight. Then we see him transform into this all-empowering force to be reckoned with. An aggressive, yet respected leader. But this is not done without suffering and a few mistakes. For someone to change so drastically you can be sure that there are a lot of ups and downs, pain and hardship. This novel is not for young readers (it’s marketed as adult fiction despite having a teenage MC). It’s violent, harsh, merciless, with brutal lessons learned along the way. What sacrifices would you make to save your people who are suffering unjustly? To avenge a loved one, even? This is a cruel journey that demonstrates a very dark side of humanity. However, it also touches on dignity and loyalty, on what it takes to be a powerful leader with true followers. I found this aspect to be quite thought provoking, even inspiring. Like a cult leader, really. Emotionally, it’s hard to go through Darrow’s journey at times. To see the terribly hard choices he has to make. To see his shell harden – both mentally and physically – because of an act of brutality he was forced into. It does make you really feel for the guy.

This novel is basically a game of strategy. These people are thrown onto a gameboard created to destroy the weak and breed powerful would-be leaders. Don’t plan on going into this mindlessly; this book is intricate with a lot of pieces to keep track of. It involves an abundance of characters, plenty of twists and turns, and a regular change of alliances and allegiances that keep modifying our perspective of certain characters. This is the tricky part that I found to be inherently complex. Many times I had to stop and think through the timeline of events to re-situate myself with a certain character, but its carefully plotted intrigue kept my head in the game. Furthermore, the relationships that develop between each character range from amusing to monopolizing, but all of them are highly compelling. It’s a very character oriented story, which is impressive seeing as how much gameplay it also entails.

Intense, well crafted, and clever, Red Rising is an addictive dystopian that is doused in secrets and betrayals. It’s kind of like a deathly game of Capture the Flag. Also, I loved the map that was wonderfully drawn up to help us visualize the battleground:


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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32 Responses to “Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about this book. It sounds absolutely fabulous and I definitely need to check it out when it releases.
    Just reading your review made it seem so intense, so I can’t wait to see how awesome the book itself is.
    Great review, Giselle!

  2. Pili

    I had read other reviews for this book that made me want to check it out, and yours has even convinced me more that I really need to do so as soon as possible!
    It sounds like a fantastic dystopian I’d love!

  3. Chelsea W

    I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now but have hesitated for some reason. I’ll definitely be picking it up for my next book after I’ve finished reading the book I’m on!

  4. JennRenee

    Awesome review. I haven’t heard of this book before. I does sound intense and it sounds like it has great character building, which i love. I have added it to my TBR.

  5. Danielle

    Amazing review Giselle! I am sooo pumped to read this book now, you captured the intensity perfectly in your review, definitely sounds like a winner!

  6. Michelle {Book Hangovers}

    OH MY GOSH!!!!!! All I want to do is read this book but I can’t until I get my purchased copy because I was not one of the lucky ones that got the pleasure to read the ARC 🙁
    You guys are so lucky and I’m so happy you guys are blogging the reviews on this book b/c y’all are just making me even more excited for the debut!!!
    Thanks for sharing and happy reading ♥

  7. Candace

    I do love when there’s a map! I’ve been avoiding picking up new dystopians since I have so many series I need to finish. But once I make my way through them I might have to give this a try!

  8. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    This book looks so cool! the character development sounds absolutely fantastic and the plot itself does too. In a morbid way I love when a character’s hardships are so painful and hard that I almost can’t finish the book because it’s hurts too much. The relationships between the characters also sound like something that would be worth reading in the book 🙂 Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  9. Blythe Harris

    Oh, I’m so glad you ended up liking this one, Giselle. I had a lot of hope for it but recently a lot of negative reactions have been coming in. I know Christina DNF’d, and Ellis and Bonnie are having trouble with it. It sounds like something I’d really like, though. A novel of strategy sounds pretty damn awesome, not gonna lie.

  10. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    YES so glad that it’s actually an adult novel, hello complexity! I love that in a novel because sometimes I feel like YA dystopians aren’t fully fleshed out. Kind of reminds me of The Bone Season which I loved immensely as well! Thanks for your awesome review Giselle, makes me excited to read this one.

  11. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I really enjoyed this one too…though I found that middle stretch a tad long. I think Brown is very talented and the world building was great. I’m curious where the next book will go. Wondering–will it be a trilogy or more books?

  12. Melliane

    I didn’t read it because I have a problem with space books, mainly space ships books, but a friend told me it’s not really like that and after seeing so many wonderful books, I just keep asking myselg why I didn’t pick it sooner. thanks for the review, I’m glad you liked it too.

  13. Roro

    I love maps . I don’t know if I will read this one but tnx for the review Giselle . Happy you enjoyed it

  14. Siiri

    “Then we see him transform into this all-empowering force to be reckoned with.” — I love that it has a guy MC who grows into his potential rather than a girl MC. Watching guys cope in dystopian societies as the narrators really make a difference and I would love to see more of these kind of books. “To see his shell harden – both mentally and physically – because of an act of brutality he was forced into. It does make you really feel for the guy.” — OH, I believe ya. Character oriented and compelling relationships? Me approves. Oh, and I take it that this book is anything but predictable? I like that. Glad you enjoyed this one. First review I’ve seen and already excited 😉

  15. April

    Oh man, I loved this book so much. I don’t usually re read books often, but I really want to pick this one right back up. :o) It’s so well written.

  16. Wendy Darling

    I only skimmed your review because I’ve only read a few chapters at this point, but I’m definitely intrigued! Everyone seems to love this so much. It’s being positioned as the next big thing, but who knows what will happen, especially since it’s technically an adult title.

  17. Bonnie

    I wish I could have loved this like everyone else did. lol Oh well, I can definitely see the appeal it just wasn’t for me. That map looks awesome though!