Red Rising – Pierce Brown

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

red risingDarrow is a Helldiver. A pioneer of Mars.
Born to slave beneath the earth so that one day, future generations might live above it.
He is a Red – humankind’s lowest caste. But he has something the Golds – the ruthless ruling class – will never understand.
He has a wife he worships, a family who give him strength. He has love.
And when they take that from him, all that remains is revenge . . .

What I thought

The first thing to say about this book is the amazing detailed and thought through world and society. This book feels like its contemporary; in the sense that the world is so real, diverse, and large. It doesn’t feel like this is a made up world but more like it’s one we already innately know and therefore no time is needed to explain it.
Clearly that’s not the case, it’s set on Mars and has a very distinct class/colour class system. But the depth of the world that Darrow lives in feels so insanely real that it’s easy to forget that Brown built the whole thing himself cherry picking the best and worst bits of various earth cultures to make this one. The world building isn’t ‘amazing’ it’s out of this world. It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve read a book which has world and culture building to this level. It gently unfurls as Darrow learns more and more about what is really going on.

I loved the colour based class system, it’s something that I have seen a few times before but never to this level. Each class is given a colour and a position in society, bard/slave/leaders/etc. It’s a really interesting to see how people automatically fall into various roles in the Gold Testing and how each colour has a level of scorn attached to it. Some colours are better than others and because this society is so clear cut between the jobs and classes moving around isn’t feasible. Everyone knows their position and their place in the world no matter how much they might not like it.

The writing and descriptions are visceral, it doesn’t shy away from anything and there are plenty of grim moments where I wished it did shy away a tiny bit – and yet the depth of the description is beautiful. The smell is described in just as much detail as all of the other senses and you can almost taste the tang of blood as you read. If I was someone who could think in pictures then I wouldn’t quite be having nightmares but the images would stay with me for a VERY long time. It’s a brutal book and doesn’t pull it’s punches.
The emotions and the need for justice is described as much as the blood and gore. As a reader you feel the need to get revenge on the Golds just as much as Darrow. The wrong-ness and the hatred of a society that left him and his family alone. It doesn’t just pull at the heart strings it pulls at all of your emotions and doesn’t let go, you don’t just sympathise you empathise.

The whole society is based on a colour class system, with rigid boundaries. There isn’t any movement and ‘everyone’ apart from Darrow and his fellow Reds know what each colour means. The Reds are told that they are getting the planet ready for colonisation, while in reality they are the lowest of the low a slave class that doesn’t know that they are slaves.
I really enjoyed the world building and how it grew until you met more colours and got to know their position. It grew from originally just wearing clothes that matched your colour to society being genetically engineered to have the same hair and eye colour as your class, which means it is theoretically impossible to disguise yourself as another colour and move up in the society. Gold’s are the rulers, copper’s are administrators, yellows are doctors, and reds are the miners/slaves. There are 14 different colours in total each with their own position and with class rules and layers inside of it.

Although Darrow is 16 years old this really isn’t a YA book, it’s an adult dystopia with a teen character but I wouldn’t suggest this one for younger readers. Darrow might have only been alive 16 years but because of the society he’s already got a wife and child and is forced to grow up young. The idea of being a teenager and enjoying your youth is just not an option for Reds. I’m surprised it was on sale at YALC last year and this year but I think that’s Hodder catering for the older YALC go-ers.

Why I read it

I needed a book with my favourite colour in the title for the 2018 PopSugar challenge and picked this one up at YALC. It’s definitely one more NA than YA though and not one I would suggest to younger YA readers

Final Thought

This is a really brutal book with vivid descriptions of a very oppressive society. I can understand why it wouldn’t be for everyone – there is a LOT of blood and gore. But I really enjoyed it, I’m reading the 2nd one for my NEWTS and am looking forward to returning to Darrow’s world and seeing what happens next.

It’s a really compelling read, the only reason I haven’t already read book 2 is because I am an idiot. I was skint at the time of finishing this one and then prioritised other books ahead of ‘Golden Son’ I have since bought Golden Son and am planning on reading it for my NEWTS later in the month.

Am I glad I read it? YAAAS
Did I enjoy it? YAAAS
Would I read again? HELL TO THE YES
Would I recommend? YAAS (if you’re okay with bloody books with vivid descriptions)

2019 Challenges

PopSugar: Set in space, should be turned into a film, two word title.


This review has been half written for over a month but life has got in the way.
As always let me know what you think and if you’ve read this book or if my review has made you want to.


P.S My next post will be my July round-up.
P.P.S My next review will be Charmcaster by Sebastian De Castell. (Which I read end of August 18… I imagine I’ll be more than a year behind with my reviews sooner rather than later.)


4 thoughts on “Red Rising – Pierce Brown

  1. For me as a reader, this author does a good job with story pacing. Pacing in any story is important to me. I don’t want to read 5 pages of someone picking their nose lol glad you enjoyed the book


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