Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown: Review

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Title: Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1)
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy This Book: Amazon / Book Depository

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow-- and Reds like him-- are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity' s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society' s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. (Goodreads summary.)

The gist of it.
I'm really at a loss for words right now, this book is one hell of a roller coaster ride. There are some books that are just almost impossible to review, Red Rising is definitely one of those books. Before I even try to review it though, I need to tell you all one thing. I almost had to DNF this book and now, after finishing it, I laugh and can't quite believe that I almost didn't get to experience everything this amazing book had to offer. I don't want the fact I nearly DNF to put you off, it's more of a warning and a plea. If you struggle for a moment, especially during part 2, push through it because it's beyond worth it. You would be missing out on something truly spectacular.

I have been raving about this book to people since I got past part two and became completely hooked. I have been trying to sum it up or explain the basic plot, and it's so difficult. This is a science fiction dystopian that takes a lot of inspiration from Ancient Rome, which I was far too excited to see. It does have a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games, there, I've said it, but not to the point where it feels like it's just a HG rip off. So, please, bear with me as I try to give you the basics about the book.

Darrow is a Red, living on planet Mars and part of a society that is separated into Colors, with Reds being the lowest of the low. As a Helldiver, Darrow's job is to use a clawDrill to mine for helium-3, a gas that is vital in the terraforming of planets. He believes he, and the other Reds, are there to make the  planets surface inhabitable for the people of Earth. At only sixteen, Darrow is already considered an adult in Red society, he has worked since he was thirteen and has been married for six months. Despite a hard life with little reward, Darrow is happy, in love and satisfied with the life he has. But one event changes all of that and leads to Darrow discovering that his whole life has been a lie. Mars has been terraformed for years, the other Colors live on the surface in their cities, living great lives as they treat the Reds as slaves below. Darrow's fury prompts him to finally take action, he will sacrifice everything to infiltrate the Golds, the ruling Color. His goal is to gain access to the Institute, where the best of the Gold youth go to prove themselves. Where they will be tested and pitted against each other to come out on top, their performance will determine the rest of their lives. Only from a place of power can Darrow go up against the Gold's.

I was pretty much hooked from the opening two lines:

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

This book starts off so strongly, the first part is so well written and introduces you to Darrow, the Red's and their life effortlessly. Looking back and realising that Part I is only 50 pages long, well, that astounds me. I felt like I came to really know Darrow, his life and who he is as a person in that small space of time. You get to know his family, his friends, the people he works with. It's also a welcome surprise to find the romance in a book already so well established. Darrow has been married to Eo for six months, but they've been friends since childhood. Their romance is beyond sweet, you can't help but love those two together. The start of this book is hard to read though because, despite his circumstances, Darrow is happy with his life. He's in love with his wife, he has his family and he enjoys his work, it's too good and too happy. You know that's not going to last. He has no motivation or drive to better his standing, he feels it's hopeless to even try. I had a horrible feeling about the start of the book, I was just waiting for it to all go horribly wrong.

My Part II feels.
Now Part II is where I had my struggles with this book, it was the part where I was seriously considering having to DNF the book. It just switches so quickly, the direction of the book and Darrow as a character. It actually does feel like you've accidentally picked up a different book and started reading it. It's hard to even see a connection between the Darrow we find in Part II and the Darrow we know from Part I. I was also just a little devastated about the direction the book had taken, even though I knew it was coming and had to happen. This is the part where we see Darrow make the physical and mental changes needed to become a Gold. It's gruesome and painful to read at times and I was just struggling to get through it. Looking back now, I can better understand the massive shift in the way the story is told and how Darrow changes. His character seems almost emotionless at times, these terrible, painful things are happening to him and he knows it hurts, but it's like he doesn't feel it. I think Part II was just the perfect way to showcase how big a change Darrow is making, how much events have affected and changed him. I can appreciate Part II more, looking back on it, but at the time it did make me want to give up on the book. But, remember, it gets so much better and it's worth pushing through it, if you end up struggling like I did.

From Part III onwards.
Once we get past his transformation, and actually get to the Institute, things start to really pick up. This is also where I began to see a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games, maybe too many. That's because the Golds who make it through the first stage of the Institute are then made to battle it out against each other. But this isn't about killing one another, it's more about command and conquer. It's about learning the art of war, strategy, politics, how to think like your enemy and, most importantly, how to be the best. It's preparing them for a life of power, of big decisions and knowing how to control people. This was where the book suddenly gripped me and wouldn't let go, I couldn't put it down. The style of fighting is very Roman. They are split into twelve Houses, each named after a Roman god of Olympus. The aim of the game is for your House to come out on top, you must conquer the other Houses and emerge as victors. The warfare in this is very Rome/Spartacus like, it just made me want to go and watch both those shows. This isn't a quick competition, this takes place over months and months, almost a year or so. It's filled with action, violence and some pretty brutal moments that are hard to read. This book is very much adult fiction, not YA, as I had first thought.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! This review is becoming uncontrollably long and yet I haven't even scratched the surface of this book. It's about 380 pages long, but I feel like it's more like 1,000 with how much you get in this one book. It's got an epic beginning, it's got intrigue and Hunger Games elements. It's got inspiration from Ancient Rome, it has amazing world building and so many frigging characters that I just loved. Ahhhhhh! Seriously, how can I form coherent sentences when reviewing this book. I can't do it people, I just can't.

The writing was stunning and brutal, I couldn't get enough of it. I'm not quite sure how you're expected to just patiently sit around and wait for Pierce Brown to release another book. Nope, no thank you. I need book two now. I need the whole series now, so I can devour them one after the other.

'Tears stream down my cheeks. He's twitching. When I grab his golden hair, I find him already limp. Like a wet golden feather. Blood pulses from his nose. He is quiet. He no longer moves. No longer smiles.'

Basically me at the end of this book.
This just has everything. I honestly don't know what more I could ask of from a book. Darrow is such a complex character, I loved watching him change and adapt over the course of this novel. The other characters in this book are well developed too, you meet so many and yet feel like you really come to know them all as individuals. I loved the Roman vibe that this book has, that completely fascinated me and kept me reading. This has plot twists, intrigue, violence, romance... see what I mean, it has everything. Okay, I seriously need to stop gushing about this book because it's getting embarrassing.


4.5/5 Butterflies

I have to deduct half a butterfly for Part II, seeing as I did almost DNF at that point. I am so pleased I pushed on and kept reading, this book blew me away. It surpassed all my expectations and now has me itching to get my hands on book two. This is a much more adult version of The Hunger Games, with more of a sci-fi element and inspiration taken from Ancient Rome. There are not enough words for me to actually describe to you the reading experience that is Red Rising. I can just implore you all to go read it, push through Part II and fall as in love with it as I did. 


Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy, #2)





*I received a copy of this novel from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.

23 comments:

  1. I am starting this soon and am so excited to because of all the glowing reviews I have seen for it. This normally isn't my go to genre with the blend of dystopian and fantasy but I really am looking forward to reading it.

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    1. It's has a brilliant premise and I ended up absolutely loving it. I had my struggles in the beginning, but I couldn't put it down once I got past part 3.

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  2. Great review! I definitely want to start this sometime within this year (which is dwindling to an end...) It definitely sounds interesting and I haven't read male authors in such a while...

    Jess @ MyReadingDress

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    1. It's a really brilliant book, much more adult than YA. I am itching to get my hands on book two.

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  3. YAY OH MY GOSH YAY!!! I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH SO I NEED FLAIL WHENEVER SOMEONE ELSE LOVES IT!!! I read it last year, soooo long ago I seriously need a reread before Golden Son (OMG GOLDEN SON FJADSKLFJADF) and I just...I was just so gobsmacked I nearly ate my kindle. I was a little bit dubious about how similar it was to THG. It feels just like an older, more violent version, you know? And I almost got angry at it for ripping-off my favourite series ever. BUT THEN. Omg. THEN THE AWESOMENESS CAME. I had no trouble with the 2nd half. I didn't know where it was going, but I was never tempted to stop. I nearly cried so much, because it's so beautifully written and so cruel and EO OH POOR BEAUTIFUL EO. (Although that bit reminded me too much of her being their "Mockingjay" you know?) STILL. I can't give it enough stars *hugs book*

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    1. YAY!!! This comment just MADE MY NIGHT! I am so happy to find someone else who wants to fangirl like a crazy person over this book. It was seriously amazing. I need book two so much right now. I am even counting down, it's not even funny.

      It really does have far too many HG similarities. But he does it in such a way that it works in the end, even if it did bug me quite a bit. I think it's because it's a lot more adult and does have elements that sets it so far apart from the HG.

      POOR EO! I LOVE HER!!! I LOVE HER!!!

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  4. I can so see why you enjoyed this, I can, honestly, but is it wrong to not regret not continuing, even though you say it gets better? It's like, I dunno, I feel as though really, the author should have ensured that it wouldn't have had that reaction, and I also just felt so tried and out of it that I just couldn't stomach the suffering it, I was having a bad reading time.. maybe I'll try it again in the future, library or something, but right now, I'm pretty comfortable that I left it. Look forward to your fangirling of Golden Son though ;)

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    1. I don't think it's wrong to not regret continuing. I wouldn't have if I had DNF it. I was really struggling at the time, it would have been a relief to put it down. I am even counting down to Second Son, it's sad but... I NEED IT!!!

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  5. I think you finally sold me on this book! I heard from so many people that they really liked it but since it is a dystopian and I feel like this genre becomes really stale very quickly for me, I never picked it up. But now hearing how much you enjoyed it makes me so much more excited! There are so many elements you mentioned like him being married, the mythology influences and the setting that just seem very unique for a dystopian or a YA book (is it YA though?) in general. Red Rising just made a huge step up on my wishlist and I think I will probably pick it up around the end off the year thanks to you! Phenomenal review! :)

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    1. This one definitely puts its own spin on the dystopian genre, I absolutely loved it. The sci-fi element, merged with the Ancient Rome fighting style. It was AMAZING! I am just a total fangirl as far as this book is concerned. I need book two so much that it actually hurts.

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  6. I saw this book some time ago and I think it's on my TBRL somewhere... so I had to skim through your review somewhat as I do intend to read it. I'm encouraged that you gave it a high review, though! Will bump it up the list slightly. Emphasis on 'slightly', as I'm feeling demotivated with reading again. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I keep getting demotivated with reading. I've been working a lot and have barely had any spare time, so it's hard balancing social life, sleeping, blogging, reading and everything else.

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  7. Soooo glad to hear how good this book is! It's been on my shelf ever since it was published, just waiting to be read, and now I'm all psyched about it again! And oh my gosh, isn't that a WONDERFUL opening line?! I want it on a pin!

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    1. I loved that opening line. I was like 'Oooooh, that's good!'. I hope you love it when you get to read it.

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  8. Dang this sounds like a good one! I am glad that you ended up liking it even after your almost DNF it. This situation recently happened to me too, but I have ended up really liking the series.

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    1. I can't believe I almost put it down, I am so happy that I didn't!!! :)

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  9. I really enjoyed this one too, but how did you almost DNF it???? It was so dark, brutal, and disturbing. I was completely riveted and engrossed and I loved Darrow as a character. Even when he was making horrible mistakes, I was rooting for him. He's such a badass but also such a good guy. There's so much evil in this book, but it's complex and nuance and there are reasons for it. I thought the politics and strategy were well done.

    The secondary characters were amazing, so well fleshed out. I also loved the world-building and learning about Mars, the rest of the planets, and the caste system. Yes, definitely some similarities to The Hunger Games (and Lord of the Flies), but I wasn't bothered by it. I loved this book!!! Can't wait for the next one and so glad you finished it and loved it! ~Pam

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    1. Seriously, Part II was just awful. It just really took a different turn and felt like I was reading a whole different book. I didn't particularly like Darrow in that part either. But Part III saved it for me and I suddenly could not get enough.

      I can't wait for book 2, I am counting down the days!!! :)

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  10. Despite this book being everywhere over the blogosphere and booktube lately, I had no idea what it was about until reading your review - and yes, it does sound pretty amazing. Definitely adding it to my TBR now! Thank you for a fantabulous review, Charnell. :)

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    1. You're welcome! I hope you end up absolutely loving it as much as I did :)

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  11. I've heard mostly everyone say they almost DNF'd. But thank God they didn't because the book ended up blowing their minds.
    I recently got this one to review as well. I probably won't get to it for a while but it's great to hear that I'll need to not give up and just push through and I won't be disappointed. I'm really excited to dive into it. I like the sound of it, the mix of Hunger Games, Ancient Rome and Sci-Fi. Sounds like a super interesting mix.
    Great review!
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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    1. It really does make for an interesting mix. It was so hard to push through that moment where I really needed to DNF, but I am so pleased I did! I really hope you end up loving it too.

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  12. Oh I loved this book so much, I'm so excited to see someone else get as excited about it! I had some difficulties with the transformation into a Gold too but overall I loved this book so hard and I can't wait for the next one! Parts of this were definitely brutal and hard to read but I love that it just didn't hold back at all. When the heck do we get the next one?!

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