book review | red rising by pierce brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

This is the story of Darrow, who lives on Mars, which has society structured by color. Darrow is a Red, the group of people at the very bottom of society, who work in the mines to prepare the planet for habitation by the other, higher colors. Darrow’s wife, Eo, has dreams for a better life, and she begins a series of events that draws Darrow into a group of rebels to fight for a world in which color doesn’t define who you are or your quality of life.

Recommended if you like:

  • Dystopias or space or any combination of the two
  • Ruthless, morally gray characters
  • Bloody and stabby stories


My Spoiler-Free Review

I’m a little late in reading Red Rising, I know; this book was published over three years ago. However, it’s been on my radar for a while and I *finally* managed to get my hands on it. Oh boy, am I glad I did! I really enjoyed this.

There’s something really edgy about this series that made it unputdownable and different than anything else I’ve read–even though there are many familiar tropes in this book. Darrow begins his story as a teenager, but this is not a YA book. It felt like a cross between Captain America and Percy Jackson at Camp Half Blood and the Hunger Games–but an adult version, with more violence and swearing. (If you’ve read Red Rising, do you agree with this?!) However, these tropes and ideas all felt fresh in this setting and with these characters. And besides, they’re all tropes I like to read, so I wasn’t bothered in the least.

The setting and characters really made this story. The setting is awesome–MARS. This is a full-fledged sci-fi world, where they have technology and animals and food unrecognizable to us. Not to mention they use terminology that went right over my head sometimes. You get thrust into this space world, and it’s super awesome and only a little confusing. Pierce Brown’s world-building really is great. I just wish I understood it more. (Maybe a re-read would help me.)

And the characters! Man. Pierce Brown knows how to do side characters! They are all so well-developed with their own quirks and weird personalities. Seriously–there are so many weirdo characters, but those are the ones you love the most! *Ahem* Sevro, anyone? Aptly nicknamed the Goblin. Or Pax au Telemanus, a friendly(-ish) giant.

There’s also excellent friendship–I do love me some bromances. And even the romance I thought was really well done. I liked the love interest, and I liked her and Darrow together.

The only real complaint I have with this book is Darrow himself. The main character. I know–this seems like it’d be a big problem, to not like the protagonist. But let me explain.

I like Darrow well enough. I just didn’t really connect with him. He starts off in this series as an arrogant boy, who goes about collecting “worshippers” even though in the grand scheme of things, he’s a little lost. He’s following this dream of his wife’s and I’m not sure I understand *his* motivations for all the things he does. Throughout the book, I was still pulling for him–he is the protagonist after all–but I just didn’t quite click with him. He experienced a lot of growth throughout the book, but he still didn’t make it to the leader I expected him to be. (But with two books left in the trilogy, there’s time for that yet!)

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an edgy, bloody, spacey read.

Let’s just say I was pretty smart when I snagged all three books from the library at once.


Have you read Red Rising? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,


6 thoughts on “book review | red rising by pierce brown

  1. I like Red Rising too, and also had difficulty connecting with Darrow – there seems to be an element of coldness in the writing style that kept me from truly identifying with the main character. Sometimes the pacing felt a little slow in parts too. But besides that it was an incredible, epic tale. I’m up to the last book in the series now, ‘Morning Star’ and am interested to see how this trilogy is wrapped up. Though with ‘Iron Gold’ due out in January next year, I’m excited that the universe of Mars, the Golds, and Darrow is expanding!

    Great review and I’m looking forward to see what you think of ‘Golden Son.’


    1. I completely agree. And yes, there were some slowish parts, but mostly I liked those. 🙂

      I actually finished reading Morning Star last night–this post was written a few days ago! It was SO GOOD. I thought it was the best of the three and an epic conclusion. Hopefully you agree once you finish!

      Liked by 1 person

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