[Book Review #16] Red Rising by Pierce Brown


The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

Book Specifications:

Author: Pierce Brown

Format: Trade Paperback

Part of a Series: Yes. Red Rising #1.

Release Date: January 28, 2014

Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)

No. of Pages: 382 pages

Price: 839.00Php

Genre: Science Fiction, High Fantasy, Dystopian, Adult, Adventure, War, Young Adult

Book Review:

The Cover: The cover featured a black background with a red eagle-like wing flapped open which looks like it’s about to take flight. A writing of the title is also etched vertically on the side. It’s simple. And yet, I feel like its very elegant and regal. It’s a great and relevant cover made to emphasize the main character’s story. I never fail to reiterate how I love simple an relevant covers on my book reviews and such. It’s like a favorite. I can never seem to forget it. And with that being said, I have to give this a rating of the highest sorts. Seriously. (5 out of 5 stars)

CONFESSION: I’ve been scouring Manila in search of this book for 5 months and it is only last December 2014 when my search ended when I found the last trade paperback copy at National Book Store Quezon Avenue. I was like a child realizing a dream! I don’t know why but this book really was hard to find. I had to go on several bookstore hops just to get a hold of this book.

The Story: The story revolved on the life of a miner of Mars, Darrow, whose life was turned up side down with (SPOILER ALERT) the death of his wife, Eo. See how I didn’t put that spoiler together with the ending because Eo died within the first few pages, and it can’t be considered part of the ending. But going back, the story was like a mix of a few books. Reading this book is reminiscent of Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, The Selection, and Percy Jackson. Further explanation found below:

  1. It felt like I was reading Game of Thrones because of all the House determination. We have House Augustus, House Bellona, etc. The killings found within the scenes where Darrow was playing a game for The Institute were also another reason for it to be compared with the work of George R. R. Martin. Gruesome, violent, and absolutely deadly. I love it!
  2. Moving on, I also felt like I was reading a part of The Hunger Games and The Selection because of the Castes. In The Hunger Games, castes were determined by DISTRICTS. In The Selection, castes were determined by NUMBERS. But with Red Rising, the castes were determined by COLORS. Unique, right? The highest in the social hierarchy are the Golds, whose lives bear bright days, while the Reds are found at the bottom of the pyramid and they’re considered to be the servants, etc. It was all very cool and unique.
  3. Lastly, it felt reminiscent of the Percy Jackson series because of all the Capture The Flag-like activities that Darrow participated in while he was in The Institute. Low reason for a comparison, but what the heck! It was totally cool.

Oh, and I noted some relevant scenes. I’m enumerating them below.

  1. When Darrow killed Julian for a concrete spot in the Institute, not only was it painful for Darrow considering he’s not actually a murderer, but it also was a big leap regarding our protagonist and his character development. He’s slowly realizing that he’s changing negatively just to put Eo’s dream into action.
  2. When Cassius killed Titus mercilessly, it was a big wake-up call to Darrow that he wasn’t the only Red within the walls of the Golds’ Institute. Titus was one of them. The Reds. And he wasn’t able to put a stop to his Death due to his current responsibilities as he was on a mission to live out Eo’s dream.
  3. The public caning of Tactus (as well as Darrow) showcased a great development for Darrow. It just goes to show that he’s slowly turning from a simple and reckless being, into a wise and fair leader for House Mars.

The best part about this story, though, is watching Darrow grow (and struggle) in developing from a simple soldier, into an inspiring Leader. Darrow’s character development is simply prestigious and remarkable. Don’t get me wrong, the book had its flaws like the excessive world building and all, but the greatness of it all overpowers these flaws. The story was just gruesome and just bloodydamn awesome. (See what I did there?) (5 out of 5 stars)

The Ending: *This part is filled with spoilers. I suggest you skip this part if you don’t want to cry later on.* What’s there to expect? I knew right from the start that Darrow will succeed in getting in to the Institute and he will find someone that will bring him a step closer to bringing down the people who wronged him and his people. It’s not that the book is predictable. It’s because I have a strong faith in Darrow that he will succeed. There’s a saying that revenge is a dish best served cold, and Darrow here seems to be persistent in showing the Golds that. Some points I loved about the ending include the following:

  1. The loyalty of Mustang to Darrow and his cause. I was shocked to find out that she’s a sister to the Jackal. Seriously! That was such a story-turner! Never have I expected a twist in this book. It caught me off guard, and it got me reading quickly.
  2. The death of Pax au Telemanus is excruciatingly painful. He was a loyal soldier to Darrow and his death became another reason for Darrow to seek revenge from the government or the Golds. God, these deaths are going to kill me if I continue reading Pierce’s novels.
  3. Darrow accepting the offer of Nero au Augustus to be his right hand was heart-wrenching. This scene just proved that Darrow, persistent as he is, really will go to any lengths just to accomplish his mission and put Eo’s dreams into reality. But, it was also a redeeming scene as well. Seeing Darrow’s work in the Institute finally pay off, ugh. Yas! Just yas!

I loved it! My efforts in acquiring this book were simply worth it. It’s a good thing my copy of Golden Son’e en route already thanks to a person from Twitter. (5 out of 5 stars)

The Verdict: I’m not having trouble discovering the reason as to why the author of this book, Pierce Brown, is named  the Debut Goodreads Author of 2014. He really did a great job introducing Darrow and Mars to bookworms such as myself and I’m actually looking forward to reading the sequel, Golden Son. Everything was just great and perfect. There’s no other way to explain it. This book is definitely one of my best recommendations to my book friends! (5 out of 5 stars)

Quotable Quotes:

“Man cannot be freed by the same injustice that enslaved it.” – Darrow au Andromedus

“The measure of a man is what he does when he has power.” – Darrow au Andromedus

“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.” – Darrow au Andromedus

Excerpt From The Book:

I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.

I watch twelve hundred of their strongest sons and daughters. Listening to a pitiless Golden man speak between great marble pillars. Listening to the beast who brought the flame that gnaws at my heart.

“All men are not created equal,” he declares. Tall, imperious, an eagle of a man. “The weak have deceived you. They would say the meek should inherit the Earth. That the strong should nurture the gentle. This is the Noble Lie of Demokracy. The cancer that poisoned mankind.”

His eyes pierce the gathered students. “You and I are Gold. We are the end of the evolutionary line. We tower above the flesh heap of man, shepherding the lesser Colors. You have inherited this legacy,” he pauses, studying faces in the assembly. “But it is not free.”

“Power must be claimed. Wealth won. Rule, dominion, empire purchased with blood. You scarless children deserve nothing. You do not know pain. You do not know what your forefathers sacrificed to place you on these heights. But soon, you will. Soon, we will teach you why Gold rules mankind. And I promise, of those among you, only for power will survive.”

But I am no Gold. I am a Red.

He thinks men like me weak. He thinks me dumb, feeble, subhuman. I was not raised in palaces. I did not ride horses through meadows and eat meals of hummingbird tongues. I was forged in the bowels of this hard world. Sharpened by hate. Strengthened by love.

He is wrong.

None of them will survive.


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