Red Rising Book Review

I wasn’t sure what this book was about when I picked it up. The cover grabbed my attention and there was a lot of hype on Instagram. I knew it was a story about some people on Mars. I love Science Fiction almost as much as fantasy, so I gave it a go. I found it hit the New York Times Best Seller List for a reason!

Red Rising
by Pierce Brown


Editor: Mike Braff
Agent: Hannah Bowman
(From what I can gather)

In the future there is a caste system based on colors. Reds are the lowest ranking. They believe they are pioneers who mine underground to help terraform Mars, helping the human race survive.

Darrow is a Red and a talented drill operator. He learns what few Reds know: Mars is actually a fully developed planet with whole metropolis full of people living on the surface. The Reds are drilling simply to make the Golds and other colors richer. They are nothing more than slaves.

Darrow sacrifices almost everything to infiltrate the Gold training institute.  He must learn leadership and compete for his life in the most ruthless game. In this regard it is like Hunger Games, but with more intervention from benefactors, who work against Darrow because he is a low ranking gold. There are hundreds of players in this “game” with all the politics, alliances, betrayal, and double crosses that come with the struggle for power.  It is a enthralling mix of grav boots and castles, honor and corruption, deception and life truths.  Worst of all Darrow find himself making friends with some of the golds and fears he will immerse himself in the part he is playing so much that he will lose himself in the process.

The Writing

I found the writing engaging. Brown knows how to write compelling characters and weave complex plots.

Who Will Like This Story?

This has a bit of something for everyone.  It has castles, which makes the fantasy loving part of me happy! It has brutal battles, strategies, but also insightful thoughts on what makes a true leader. It has enough science fiction technology to keep sci-fi lovers happy. I suspect that the sequels will contain even more technology.

This story is brutal, ruthless, and gritty. It has some mild language, violence, and sexual content. For that reason, I would reserve this story for more mature readers.

I was surprised to find this is a High-Low book for the Lexile (HL630). High-Low means it is highly engaging for older readers but the vocabulary and sentence structure is simple enough for readers who struggle with complex texts. So this would be an excellent book for a 14 or 15 year old that doesn’t like reading much.

Foul Language: Yes, sort of. Darrow says bloody damn and gory damn. Slag is a replacement word for a four letter word.
Violence: Yes. Not detailed but definitely gory and brutal.
Sexual Content: Yes. There is no description of rape, but it does happen in the story.
Substance Abuse: No.