- Series: Red Rising (Book 1)
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 034553980X
- ISBN-13: 978-0345539809
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4,369 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red Rising Paperback – July 15, 2014
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“[A] spectacular adventure . . . one heart-pounding ride . . . Pierce Brown’s dizzyingly good debut novel evokes The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Ender’s Game. . . . [Red Rising] has everything it needs to become meteoric.”—Entertainment Weekly
“[A] top-notch debut novel . . . Red Rising ascends above a crowded dystopian field.”—USA Today
“Red Rising is a sophisticated vision. . . . Brown will find a devoted audience.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power . . . reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Fast-paced, gripping, well-written—the sort of book you cannot put down. I am already on the lookout for the next one.”—Terry Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of The Sword of Shannara
“Pierce Brown has done an astounding job at delivering a powerful piece of literature that will definitely make a mark in the minds of readers.”—The Huffington Post
“Compulsively readable and exceedingly entertaining . . . a must for both fans of classic sci-fi and fervent followers of new school dystopian epics.”—Examiner
“[A] great debut . . . The author gathers a spread of elements together in much the same way George R. R. Martin does.”—Tordotcom
“Very ambitious . . . a natural for Hunger Games fans of all ages.”—Booklist
“Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow: Pierce Brown’s empire-crushing debut is a sprawling vision.”—Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Pandemic
“A Hollywood-ready story with plenty of action and thrills.”—Publishers Weekly
“Reminiscent of . . . Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games . . . [Red Rising] will captivate readers and leave them wanting more.”—Library Journal (starred review)
About the Author
Pierce Brown spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating from college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a magical bone in his body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate campaign. Now he lives Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things old or bizarre.
Top customer reviews
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Series general review: Recommended. First book is the strongest, a more gut wrenching, better written version of the Hunger Games. Books 2-3 are OK. The sequels are dragged down by: 1) Time lapse/gap between books. 2) Poor characterization.
Book 1: 5, Book 2: 4, Book 3: 3
Book 1: 5 Stars
Overview: Red Rising follows Darrow. A young slave born into a mine working family. After suffering loss and hardship he must make a choice: continue on as before? end his life? or strike back at the oppressors? What follows is basically GATTICA and The Hunger Games. On Steroids.
+ Overarching themes. A back and forth look at the human spirit, what drives people, and what people are willing to overcome.
+ Awesome world. The author does a great job building a plausible universe. It is detailed and interesting. While certain sci-fi elements don't pass the logic test, it is an enjoyable universe.
+ Does a good job with keeping the protagonist 'human'. No infallible/invincible characters here.
+ An exciting read. Hard to put down
+/- Most stories pull you into following a person, this story pulled me into following a movement, an idea of change. I did not particularly like Darrow, but that didn't take away from the story.
+/- Bloody. Themes include slavery/rape/torture/cannibalism.
- Written POV. Best described as First Person masquerading as Third Person Limited. We are basically watching a story unfold with limited information into Darrow's mind... but the story is filled with: 'I did...'.
- Relatively poor characterization. Most characters are stereotypical with limited growth. The characters that do show changes are recycled: as the series goes on, the same 'growth' is applied to 3-4 other characters.
"Red Rising" has done it. Pierce Brown's 2014 novel is so good that it transcends genres (or maybe straddles is a better term), while honoring what's come before. I've seen it compared to "Hunger Games" to "Game of Thrones," but there's also a solid dose of Harry Potter Percy Jackson, and Ender Wiggins in it. Despite all of those comparisons, and despite the teenaged protagonist, this feels like a much more mature book than any of those Young Adult novels. It's not classified as YA in the library I picked it up from, and the review I first read in Entertainment Weekly that got me excited to read the book also treated it as an adult science fiction novel.
The story isn't necessarily new -- a teenager from the underclasses on Mars, living in caverns hollowed out of the rock. These "Reds" have been told they slave in mines to supply the materials needed to terraform the surface. Our hero Darrow ends up leaving the mines and on Mars' surface, which is not only already terraformed, but has cities sparkling like jewels, ruled by "Golds." There are many colors, each with specialized roles in human society, but Reds and Golds are the ones we hear about most. Darrow is lifted up by strange benefactors who transform him from a Red into a Gold. He's placed as a mole in a series of war games that will culminate in the winners being taken as apprentices by the most powerful houses on Mars. Darrow's entire purpose becomes overthrowing the system that's destroying his friends and family--but first he needs to win the war game that he and dozens of other teenagers are thrown into.
Most of the elements of "Red Rising" are familiar. Students are grouped into houses (Mars, Apollo, Venus, Minerva, Ceres etc.), who can provide them with advanced tools and weapons to help them advance in the game. Many of the battles, even though it's described as a war game, are to the death. The game goes on for several months, giving Darrow and the other students time to figure out tactics, overall strategies, and form relationships and loyalties in the ranks. Darrow is a more complex character than some of the other heroes and heroines of dystopian dramas. Pierce Brown gives him a fiery need for justice that outpaces his initial need for revenge. He's smart, but not the smartest in the group; he's strong, but not the strongest. He's propelled by his own will, in a society where most of the people are puppets.
Pierce Brown is a master at "world building" -- giving us details of what life is like on Mars. There's a map of the terraformed Mars in the endpapers, and I'm a sucker for a map of a fictional world. Westeros, Narnia, Middle Earth--they all hooked me with their maps. Brown's Mars is intriguing and exciting. The sights, the scents, the genetically modified people and animals. I've been fascinated by Mars since I was a pup, and this new vision of the red planet hooked me immediately. There are some books that immerse you so completely in their world that after you finish a chapter, you look up around you and are startled that you're still in the real world. "Red Rising" is one of those books. I hate making this comparison again, but if you're a fan of "Hunger Games," and you're ready to up your own game, check out "Red Rising."
Society in Red Rising is a caste system (based upon birth), where the inhabitants fall into a hierarchy of 14 “colors” representing their ranking within society. At the top of the hierarchy are the Golds, who through genetic and surgical manipulation have evolved as superior human beings. At the bottom of the hierarchy are the Reds, who are unskilled manual laborers, conditioned to a brutal environment. The remainder of society falls into one of the other “colors” that fill a specific need within society.
Red Rising focuses on the Golds and Reds: the Golds rule society with an iron fist and no compassion; the Reds toil all day in their underground city where they remain miners from generation to generation. These Reds have no actual knowledge of the rest of society; they have been deceived into believing that by mining helium-3 they are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. In reality, Mars and the rest of the solar system had been successfully colonized centuries earlier. The Golds control not only what and where the Reds live and work, but what they know. Our hero, Darrow, is a Red. He and the Reds like him are essentially slaves to a decadent ruling class, enslaved for generation after generation with no voice and no hope.
But there are those who have learned the truth and want change. The story takes shape as Darrow is rescued by a group of rebels known as The Sons of Ares; Darrow has been selected to infiltrate the Golds at its highest levels.
The book is fast paced and exciting, although it takes roughly two thirds of the book to establish the backstory. This is both a positive and a negative: it takes a long time to get to the exciting part, but one of the things I liked about this book is the in-depth character development and backstory. I gave this book a rating of four out of five due to the excellent character development and backstory, and the quick pace once it reached its stride.