Posted March 17, 2016 by Inge in Reviews / 7 Comments

Red Rising // PAX AU TELEMANUS!Red Rising by Pierce Brown
on July 15th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 382

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.
Break the chains.
Live for more.

One StarOne StarOne Star

I had a lot of thoughts while reading Red Rising (and yes, they hurt), and those thoughts came with a lot of feelings, and those feelings accompanied many different possible ratings. I have considered rating it as DNF, one star, two stars, three stars, and then three-and-a-half stars, but in the end I have settled on a very humble and decent three stars.

Red Rising has an incredibly good and clever story at its heart – a Red lowborn is selected to infiltrate the Gold highborns as his world turns upside down and he finds out the Golds have been using and deceiving the Reds for several centuries. Darrow must now change everything about his life AND himself to become a Gold, get to the top of the ranks, and topple the system from the inside out. First, though, he must go through several lines of passage, including a violent and strategic game reminiscent of The Hunger Games but thrown into a science-fiction setting. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends in this novel where nothing is black or white and everything is grey.

First of all, I’d like to say kudos to the design of the story. It was really well done and intelligent and political and challenging to the reader, which was really nice. As the reader, you don’t get things spoon-fed to you – you have to think for yourself sometimes (and yes, that hurts) and I really liked that.

What didn’t help the book much was the pace and the density of the story, which almost made me put the book down and not pick it up again. I see so many reviews in which Brown’s writing is praised and I totally see the beauty in his writing, but I also found it to be a bit pretentious? I’m not quite sure how to explain this, but it’s a feeling that stuck with me throughout the entire book. The story-telling was also really slow and dense and had me puffing from time to time. It’s just not one of those books that you’re quick to finish. Which is awesome at times, but can also be really frustrating.

Most of the characters had a great complexity to them, although I had a lot of issues with Darrow. I found him likeable mainly for his love for his wife Eo, who was beautiful and brave beyond measure. But I couldn’t help but feel like he was a giant Gary Stu – people kept looking at him like some sort of golden boy (pun intended) and like the guy was gorydamn perfect. He was chosen for this project, people looked up to him, he was a natural leader, etc. And after his transformation to a Gold, there was not a single hair on his body that even so much as swayed the other way.

Other characters I loved, especially Sevro and Mustang. With Sevro, you get this petite and slim young boy and you think he’s going to die within seconds, but then he turns out to be as cunning as a fox who graduated from the Oxford University of Cunningness (thank you, Blackadder) and you end up rooting for him all the way. Everyone loves a good underdog. As for Mustang, she was just a really solid and strong female character. She wasn’t a damsel in distress – she could take care of herself very well, but she also wasn’t too proud to accept help if she needed it. And therein lies the beauty of her.

I also really liked Darrow’s dynamics with all the different characters – his wife Eo, his uncle Narrol, Cassius, Sevro, Roque, Mustang. Each relationship was different and layered like an onion (or an ogre. OGRES HAVE LAYERS) and you never really knew what to expect. Things could always go either way.

So in the end, there were a lot of really good and decent elements to the story, but the pace and the writing really set me back. It often felt like too many things were going wrong and that the story would never progress. And that’s a bloodydamn shame.

“I am the spark that will set the worlds afire.
I am the hammer that cracks the chains.”


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7 responses to “Red Rising // PAX AU TELEMANUS!

  1. I’ve heard SO MANY amazing things about this series, and it’s not even on my TBR *laughs* I am being so picky with what I add to my TBR lately, especially if it’s a series *looks at the 80 or so series I am currently reading*

    The story sounds kind of interesting, though! Although I think the things you had problems with are things that I would have problems with, too. I don’t really like pretentious writing, and I really don’t like characters that are loved and adored and put on a pedestal when they probably don’t even deserve it.

    I probably won’t end up reading this series, but I’m glad you did end up liking it enough to give it a solid three stars! Wonderful review, Inge <3

  2. I loved this book, I would have binge read the entire series but I had other books scheduled unfortunately xD I really liked Darrow. Sevro and Mustang were great too. I’ve heard the rest of the series is full of loads of feels. Oh, and I totally cried with Eo! HAHA xD Great review!

  3. I REALLY LOVED THIS BOOK. But I read it sooo long ago I’ve forgotten like 94% of it. *cries* And I have Morning Star to read but I’m too scared because I don’t remember Red Rising well enough. aGH TO THIS BRAIN OF MINE. Ahem. But I don’t remember disliking the writing or thinking it was pretentious…although I do recall thinking it came VERY close to ripping-off the Hunger Games. *winces* Somehow I forgave it for that and did rate it 5-stars. xD I need to re-read and see if my feelings are still the same!

  4. I loved this one, but I did really struggle with the pacing at the beginning. It could be a bit slow and very detailed. I loved it once we go to the main fighting aspect. I love Sevro, I have read the entire series and he has remained my favourite character throughout. Book two is really good, but book three is amazing and my favourite of the series.

  5. Oh man, if you thought the pacing here was bad, just wait until you get to Golden Son. THEN IT GETS ALL AMAZING AND OMG SO MUCH HAPPENING. I love how you used the language in your review with the references, I worship the ground that Darrow walks on as well <3 and Mustang and Sevro are my favourites. So glad you read this Inge!

  6. I have heard so many great things about this series and author that I have been interested in starting to read these at some point myself! It seems like you were able to enjoy some areas of the story more than others. And although sometimes you really did enjoy that complexity to the characters and story, at times it left you feeling like it was too pretentious. I think this one had a mix here, so I’m eager to see what I will think myself 🙂

  7. Lan Lan

    I felt the exact same way with the book. I kind of felt like I was missing something vital since so many people absolutely loved the book. I am thinking of re-reading it soon before I read the last two books but I have a feeling I may still feel the same way about Darrow. He was the perfect example of a Gary-Stu. Which is perplexing since he came from such humble roots. I guess I was expecting another Katniss (aka someone who is extremely flawed but badass).
    Amazing review! 🙂 If you do read the last two books in the trilogy I look forward to reading your thoughts on them as well.

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