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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I somehow managed to miss this book despite it getting lots of praise when it appeared earlier this year, but finally picked it up in anticipation of the sequel which is due early in 2015.

At first, I wondered what all the fuss was about. While the setting - a pitiless, hierarchical society that keeps its most downtrodden, the "reds", slaving in the mines of Mars - is well drawn, it didn't seem anything special. Then Brown did... something... and the book seemed to rise to a whole new level.

Darrow, the main protagonist, is one of the reds, who toil in atrocious conditions to produce the minerals that are needed to make Mars habitable. If they strain every muscle and meet their quote, they may get a little more food to share, a few more comforts, and Darrow shows himself bold - almost reckless - in straining to achieve this.

It's all a con, of course, and we pretty soon see that things are rigged to set the miners against each other and keep the elite - the "golds" on top at all times. So Darrow turns rebel, at terrible cost, and sets himself against the hierarchy. The rest of the book is then a thrilling description of how, in the "Institute" he is forced to play deadly power games with the sons and daughters of the elite in order to rise and win the power that will - perhaps - one day be used to free his people.

The story of what happens in those games is, again, a lesson in power and a lesson in division: I don't want to give too much away to anyone who hasn't read this yet but we see - as one might expect - that the structure of the mines is repeated at all levels, with friend set against friend, brother against brother (and sister). It's a compelling springboard for the second and third volumes in the trilogy, where I hope to see some of the paradoxes of Darrow's rebellion explored - quite simply, "change will not come from above" and I wonder how long it will take him to learn that? Or whether he will manage to avoid the dead end and achieve what he really wants?

An excellent read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Pierce Brown has created a stark vision of the future in Red Rising, his debut novel. Mars, and other inhabited worlds throughout our galaxy, is ruled by an elite class who have spent many hundreds of years creating a rigid culture where everyone is born, lives and dies in a predefined role. At the top are the Golds, the genetic crème de la crème, virtual living gods and the embodiment of perfection. Far below, on the bottom rung of the ladder, are the lowly Reds. They are the downtrodden masses, the miners and menial workers, largely ignorant of the huge lie that underpins their existence.

The Reds are viewed by most as little more than beasts of burden. From their ranks comes Darrow, a young man given the chance to rise above his station and try to right the wrongs that exist everywhere. A traumatic event in Darrow’s life opens his eyes to the larger world and a secret society tasks him with infiltrating the Golds as a 5th columnist. His goal? To bring down their rule from within. The hate that radiates from Darrow, and drives him to take on this likely suicidal mission, is palpable. In all honesty, knowing the reasons for his hate, I can’t say that I blame him. The Reds are being exploited at every turn and Darrow witnesses that exploitation at the most personal level. His rage is the fuel that fires his journey. There is an interesting evolution in his character as the plot unfolds. He experiences the slowly growing realization that it’s not just the Reds who are suffering. Irrespective of the colour caste someone is born into, they are as much a prisoner to their role as the Reds are. Darrow comes to appreciate the inequality that exists everywhere from the bottom right to the very top.

Brown ramps up the action, and the brutality that comes with it, once Darrow makes it out of the mines and to the Gold’s command school. As part of their training, teenage members of the Golds are forced to take part in an almost never ending series of tests, each seemingly more traumatic than the last. Taking their lead from ancient Earth cultures, there are elements of Roman and Spartan training that reminded me of 300. There is a test called The Passage which is particularly gruesome, even more so when you discover its true purpose. The lesson that all the students must learn? There’s no room for weakness when you are the leader of men.

A large chunk of plot takes place during the final test – an all-out war to determine the best of the best. Darrow and his classmates are pushed to the limits of their skills and endurance. During these protracted war games he begins to understand the mind set of the Golds, he even starts to grudgingly respect some of their decisions. Darrow rises to the top as a leader, nicknamed The Reaper, but at the same time another ascends, The Jackal. The final confrontation has everything you could possibly want from a science fiction thriller – action, betrayal, the odd futile gesture and even a vividly realised coup d’état.

The world building in Red Rising is what really sets this apart from any other books I’ve read recently, it’s just so immense. The scope of this novel is huge. Brown has obviously spent a great deal of time plotting out every aspect of the society he has created and it shows. Even the smallest inconsequential detail is cleverly thought through and fits within the structure of the plot. The different levels of society all have their place. The descriptions of the different colours, their roles, even the slang they use helps to flesh out the society

Readers are inevitably going to draw parallels between Red Rising and other modern dystopian novels like The Hunger Games. I’ve not read the latter so I can’t really make a fair comparison. That said, from what I have heard, it seems to me that Red Rising has a much darker tone and though Darrow is still is his teens I don’t really think Red Rising falls into the same Young Adult niche as The Hunger Games. If you liked The Hunger Games and don’t mind a little more adult language then I’m sure you would enjoy Red Rising as well.

Needless to say I absolutely despise Pierce Brown, he’s just so damned talented. He’s crafted a wonderfully compelling story that’s chock full of great characters, thought provoking ideas and some awesome action. It’s an impressive feat. There are a plethora of insightful moments woven into the fabric of Red Rising and he’s managed to execute them all flawlessly. The best part is that this is only book one, this is just the beginning. There will be another two books in this trilogy that we’ll all get to enjoy. I look forward to seeing the story move beyond the confines of Mars. There are multiple mentions of vast fleets of starships and I await Brown’s take on space travel and, hopefully, some battles as well. When it comes to science fiction I’m always on the lookout for novels that inspire a sense of awe. I want to finish a chapter only to realise that I’ve been holding my breath. Red Rising delivers everything that it promises and more. As I mentioned earlier the scope of this novel is huge and any sequel is only going to be bigger. Yes I’ll admit it, I’m hooked. When does the next book come out dammit?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 September 2015
"You and I are Gold. We are the end of the evolutionary line. We tower above the flesh heap of man, shepherding the lesser colours. You have inherited this legacy."

I read the first two pages of this book and I already knew I would love it; it's one of those where you just know immediately and you can sigh with relief. I'm so pleased it was because I haven't been this excited about a book in a while - and not for lack of trying! For this reason I apologise now for the incoming essay.

Set on Mars, mostly in an underground mining colony, are the Reds. A colony of people with a job - to dig. Darrow, our fantastically witty male lead, is the youngest driller (known as HellDivers) to have been seen in his colony at the ripe age of 16 (ripe enough in fact to already have been married off as all 16 year old boys are).

Think of colours as social standing. Reds like Darrow are effectively labourers, Greys are soldiers and the Golds are the leaders. Obsidians are the black helmeted killers essentially doing the Golds dirty work. Opposing them are the Sons of Ares, a rebel group intent on destroying the Golds and preventing progression into life on Mars. Because, as you might expect, the leaders take advantage of the "lesser classes" and the Sons of Ares do not support the assumed slavery of the Reds. In this case the Reds are made to drill in order to excavate Helium 3, and this helium 3 is being used to reform Mars so that it is habitable for the "softer colours". There's a big emphasis on how brave and noble Reds are to sacrifice themselves to make a better place for other colours, and most of the Reds don't feel too put out by it, including Darrow. But I'm sure you've figured out this self sacrificing behaviour was not a choice.

Darrow is a great character, with a lot of grit which is something this genre has been missing I think. However, the real star of the book for me is Eo, his wife, quietly calculating, smart and a genuinely interesting character; the catalyst for this whole book.

"But I am no Gold. I am a Red."

From the moment she becomes this catalyst the book takes a fantastic turn into the world of the Golds. How do you become a Gold and what could you do with all that power? Could you bring down the entire system? Darrow endeavours to find out and must undertake a series of trials and gruelling challenges (some to the death) in order to be selected as one of the elite. But a Red could never compete, could never be a Gold, so Darrow must mask his identity and hope he isn't rumbled along the way.

"And I promise, of those among you, only those fit for power will survive."

Similar to a number of dystopians at the moment, there are a few running themes. There are multiple colonies within this world (You could say like Factions or Districts) each with a different purpose but all with the same goal - to help reform Mars. Those that do the best each season win extra rations for their colony (I know, smacks of Hunger Games). Try to look past these cliche Dystopian pitfalls here, I promise more than anyone these drive me bonkers usually, but if you cling to that similarity and give up you'll miss out on a great book. I usually would be so frustrated by the cliches I'd give up, but it's worth it this time.

Recently I've found dystopians to be a bit too much and lost my desire to even read one, but this one is quite subtle, it leaves you to make up your own mind about things without throwing poverty and suffering under your nose all the time and force feeding you opinions and crazy ideas. To be honest, I just think this book has real bite. It's witty, cheeky and actually quite brave - equally it's not PG13 that's for sure so something to consider maybe before buying for younger readers, although it's mostly euphemism and clever metaphor rather than in your face naughtiness.

My favourite part of this book was the bravery I felt the author showed; I think some big risks were taken to write a book with ideas close to well established books in this genre and then, in my opinion, totally blow them all out of the water. I fully expected a typical, routine read with nothing new. Instead I was pulled into Mars. I love the writing style, some passages were grim and made my teeth hurt, they felt so real. You should read this. If you, like me, thought this was same old, same old, then take the plunge. I didn't regret it for once!

"I was forged in the bowels of this hard world. He is wrong. None of them will survive."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2015
This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Red Rising by debut author Pierce Brown is a very difficult book to review. It is clear that Brown is an excellent writer with amazing ideas, but at the same time it does not feel possible to rate the book any higher that two or three stars. This first book of three is somewhat alike The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and has some very exciting themes. However at other times it provoked a range of emotions from disgust to almost verging on boredom.

Set thousands of years in the future, the world has become colour coded. Gold are the elite, the ruling colour, and at the bottom of the pile are the Reds. Darrow is a Red and lives below the surface of the planet Mars in the mines with the responsibility of helping to make the planet’s surface habitable for humans in the future. He soon discovers that the ruling societies have been lying to him all his life, and to the many generations before him. But there is an uprising brewing and Darrow has been chosen to play a vital role in it, even though that means pretending to be the enemy.

Although it was difficult to get into the novel it appeared to be clear what the plot would be about. Wrong! Once Darrow has been trained to behave like a Gold the storyline changes completely. It is almost as though it is a different book altogether. Red Rising suddenly becomes Hunger Games-esque and the situations with the Reds, while being referred to once or twice, was all but forgotten. Presumably those original themes will continue within the final books of the trilogy.

Living under the surface of Mars with no sunlight speeds up the aging process of the inhabitants. People in the thirties are considered old; therefore even though Darrow is a teenager in Earth years, he is portrayed as a man – an image that is difficult to shake off throughout the entire book. Once Darrow is living with the Golds and, supposedly, resembling his true age, it is still easy to forget that he is young. This may change the way the reader pictures the scenes compared with how the author intended them to be imagined. The characters are still only children but may be mistaken for adults due Darrow’s opening scenes.

It cannot be denied that Brown is a very knowledgeable writer. As well as writing in an exceptionally well-structured way, he incorporates a vast amount of high culture into his story. A lot of the novel is influenced by Greek and Roman mythology and he also quotes famous philosophers such as Cicero and Plato. So despite its science fiction genre it also has a slight educational nature.

Something interesting about Red Rising was the character development of Darrow. At the beginning he was rather naïve, believing everything he was told, following orders etc. But soon he becomes more confident, clever, Gold-like. However he then becomes like a wild beast, killing to survive, to win. Thankfully his cleverness takes control and he realizes that he needs to become a leader and not a tyrant. Towards the end he even becomes messiah-like. As Darrow progresses through these changes he becomes a more likable character.

I am not sure whether I want to read the next installment of Red Rising. For the beginning storyline to continue and become the main focus, the book would need to be completely different. This could be a good thing because, as mentioned, there were times when it was a little boring, however there’s the risk that it will not feel like a follow on from the first book. I do not want to put anyone off from reading it, but I will honestly say that it was not really what I was expecting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2014
I have been wanting to read Red Rising for ages, especially as there has been a far bit of hype about it and it won the Goodreads Best Debut Author Category, so I knew I was definitely missing out on something here.
Red Rising is a dystopian novel, which is the type of novel I love and quite a few bloggers have been going crazy for it. I could not wait to get stuck in.

In Darrow's world, everyone is ordered and ranked into colours. Reds like Darrow are the lowest in society and the Golds are the rulers. The Golds do not believe in equality, only that the strongest should rule. Darrow lives in the very depths of Mars, digging all day to earn food and to make the surface of Mars inhabitable for future generations. Darrow believes that the Reds are humanities last hope, until he discovers he has been deceived.

Blimey! Why did I leave it SO long to read this?! I can completely see why Pierce won debut author of the year! What a debut it was. It was so intricate and well thought out. The last book I read similar to this and loved was The Hunger Games, so am so excited to have found a new trilogy to get completely sucked into.

Once I had started Red Rising, it practically took over my thoughts. Even when I had to put it down, I could not stop thinking about it. It is totally addictive, once you start, you just cannot get enough. As we got further into the book, I found myself flicking back to the map at the beginning to see Darrow's progress. I was utterly involved in this and felt like one the characters myself.

Even the language is unique to Darrow's world which has me saying things myself, especially bloodydamn and gorydamn. Pierce really has created a whole new world in Red Rising.

The only teeny tiny criticism I have and this is probably just me, but there were times when I desperately wanted a bit more explanation to some of things in Darrows world. I did have quite a lot of questions, but that's only because I was being greedy for more information on the story.

The only slight consolation for reading this so late is I now thankfully don't have long to wait until Golden Son is out, which some people have already been lucky enough to read and I SO envious! But that's just me being impatient for the next instalment.

A highly addictive, brilliant and intelligent debut from Pierce Brown. Bring on Golden Son!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
‘Red Rising’ written by Pierce Brown is a novel that is destined to become a bestseller and a movie blockbuster whose sequels will be eagerly awaited. This mix of dystopia, science fiction, fantasy and thriller is even more graphically explicit than “Hunger Games” with which due to some motifs can be compared with the significant difference that the author Pierce Brown addresses not only to teenagers but also to older audience.

The story takes reader to the planet Mars, on which human colony is built. The main character named Darrow is one of the Helldivers, a thousand people who live in the caves beneath the surface spending their lives like moles, drilling and mining the elements needed for Mars to be terraformed.
Darrow belongs to the caste Reds, and although only sixteen he is already married and aware of the inevitable spending of his whole life in the same way so future generations might live better. He is madly in love with his wife Eo which is beautiful and full of life, the only light in his dark underground life. But due to the tragic events that will happen that will separate Darrow from her, both reader and the main character from that moment will certainly be on the same side as we learn about other privileged caste that lives on the planet.

Their name is Golds, and while gradually learning that a long time they deceived poor workers exploiting them as slaves for their easy life, the reader will be of equal feelings as the main character; Darrow fraudulently manages to get out of the place where he was to about to spend his whole life and embarks on journey to find out what is really going on, what's behind the lies he lived his whole life, like so many before him…

Although the novel setting and even part of the plot is similar, “Red Rising” describes much more complex world than was the case in the “Hunger Games”; the characters that reader is going to meet on its pages, including the main character, are far from any of perfection, they are full of flaws, make bad choices, bring bad decisions and do bad things.
Hence the multidimensional characterization of the protagonists, both major and those episodic we meet, can be considered one of the greatest qualities of this novel because the story though interesting is not something that has not been seen in many variations.

The story at some moment is extremely brutal, and then in some other full of emotions, especially regarding the love relationship of the main character that will perhaps elicit a few tears from more emotional readers.

And though it is difficult to generalize and say who will more like or dislike this novel, Pierce Brown’s work can certainly be recommended to those who love dystopias which will fly through its 400 pages; but be warned that ‘Red Rising’ is much more than ordinary fantasy – it’s an epic novel full of lies, suffering and gore.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 February 2014
Red Rising by Pierce Brown: This book was a foray into something different for me, which is my challenge this year "To Read as many books as i can that take me out of my comfort zone". Right from the start i had to hang on to the book covers to stop from being swept up into the plot and transported to Mars. I was amazed to discover its being billed as a Young Adult novel. Its complex world building and multi layered society is leaps ahead in style and depth of almost any other YA book i have ever read.

Taking place on Mars, introducing the Red, the bottom of society, the worker slaves, in a society led by the elite Golds. One red is destined to rise from his station, to learn adapt and grow. It is this adaptation and growth that allows the reader to experience all the levels of emotion. through failure, victory, death, love, friendship, comradeship and so much more.

Inevitable comparisons will be made to Hunger Games, but this blows that series away. For me this is right up there with the quality of Wool by Hugh Howey A book that transported me to another time another place and other reality. For those that read you will understand the phrase : Book hangover, this is what i have now, i don't know what to read next as my hair of the dog... but it will need to be damn good.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
OK, you want something that is not only different but really hits the spot. You also want something new that you’ve never seen before and all wrapped up with a debut author so that you’re not sure what to expect. Sound a little bit too far-fetched to achieve? Well normally I’d say yes, but for me Hodder have pulled a blinder by obtaining what I think could and will be a title to set your standards by with this debut that just blew me away.

What you get within is a hugely complex tale with characters that are not only realistic but make choices that have huge repercussions for all involved be it for good or ill. Add to this a world that feels wonderfully real and one that the reader can step into and lose not only hours within but will also be left emotionally drained upon completion. All in, and whilst this may seem like a wild claim for many but all round, I feel will do for Science Fiction what George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series has done for Fantasy. You really have to read this book this year.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 December 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ignore the bookseller's description which makes Red Rising sound like a Hollywood version of The Warlord of Mars (hold on, they messed that one up already didn't they?). Put aside the Hunger Games comparisons as well for now but don't dismiss them, because although the war-games element dominates Pierce Brown's debut novel, the first book of a new SF trilogy, its scope, range and tone is far more expansive and realistic in its outlook. There's a lot of relevant historical foundation used in the book relating to Napoleonic campaigns, to the political make-up of the Roman Empire and indeed the structure and stratification that exists within our own society. All of this is fascinating and thrilling to see played out in a controlled environment that itself has evident and intentional references to the Gods overseeing the lives of mortals from Olympus, but the real driving motivation for Red Rising and what makes it so absolutely involving, is the stirring underlying revolutionary sentiments that aim to overthrow the system.

The book's title works on a number of levels then, as it's set initially on Mars (though it will clearly extend far out beyond this in the later books), but it also implies a socialist revolution, since it deals with a section of the working population of this society known as 'Reds' who have been kept ignorant of the expansion of the human race into space, their ignorance used to keep them enslaved in cruel and impoverished condition mining helium from deep beneath the surface of the Red planet. One 'Helldiver' however, Darrow, discovers the truth however and, with the help of a secret underground network, is able to (somewhat improbably admittedly) infiltrate high Gold society.

To get into a position of influence however Darrow must first compete in a medieval-style war game against other highly qualified candidates from the some of the most important Gold houses. The wars that make up the larger portion of Red Rising are brutal and violent, used as a means of giving the students 'real-life' experience for what is expected of them later in life. Hogwarts this isn't. No computer simulation either. Pierce Brown not only takes into consideration the relevant historical references, but he demonstrates a brilliant awareness of realistic human motivations and behaviour, as well as the fact that advances in society are indeed built upon the suffering and enslavement of others. What's even more interesting is the question of how Darrow can only help overthrown this corrupt system by playing by its rules, but can he do it without becoming corrupted himself?

These are meaningful concepts that the author employs superbly in this remarkably assured and totally involving debut, tackling natural selection, political manipulation and social engineering without getting bogged down in academic references. Despite the nature of the book being heavily based around battles for power and dominance between rival houses in a terraformed valley, the author makes these thrilling and relevant and never loses sight of the ultimate goal of the longer game of the trilogy. Utterly brilliant in its own right, Red Rising is however just setting the foundations, providing a remarkably solid basis and plenty of reason to look forward to what's ahead in the next two books. Red Rising certainly promises the rise of a truly phenomenal new talent. Unlike Darrow, Pierce Brown might not actually overthrow the system, but Red Rising certainly deserves to make one heck of an impact on the book world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2014
This is brilliant. I can't really put a finger on it, but the most exact thing is the main character who is described in such detail you just need to know more. It's captivating and you can't let the character go. I read the book in three days and was up late the last night to finish it. It's been a very very long time since a book kept me up like that. Now I'm going through withdrawal since there's like half a year to the sequel.

In short, I'd say read this if you'd like to read the lovechild of the episode from Firefly where they visit the central planet and Hunger Games (book 1 only) (if the Hunger Games was more eloquently written).

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