Today I’m reviewing Red Rising by Pierce Brown.
It’s kind of become my thing to draw a comparison to a series so that you, the reader, can know what you’re getting into.
My comparison for Red Rising?
“May the odds be ever in your favor.”
Eight simple words, but I would be surprised if a single person out that doesn’t know what I’m quoting.
Whether you’ve read the books, watched the movies, or just have heard about it, most everyone knows The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
From an early song in the that becomes the groundwork for a future rebellion, to the vicious arena style battling, Red Rising is a perfect book for any Hunger Games fan.
But that’s not to say that Red Rising is a Hunger Games rip off. Far from it.
Where Katniss was an emotionless automaton with a paper thin motive, Darrow is passionate and driven.
Where Panem was a rip-off of America with posh overlords, Mars is a brilliantly crafted world ruled by a society bred upon the most vicious cruelty.
Red Rising is a YA Science Fiction book through and through and I’m so excited to see where the series is going.
But enough about Hunger Games, let’s get to my review.
Red Rising Book Review
Red Rising is an interesting situation.
Generally, I either like a book, LOVE a book, or dislike a book.
But Red Rising has given me conflicting emotions. So for the purposes of this review, I’m going to split my review in two parts.
Overall I’m giving Red Rising a 4/5, which by any standards is a good score, but it could have easily been a 5.
Allow me to explain.
I absolutely DEPLORED the first 30% of this book.
Harsh words, I know. And My apologies to Pierce, because Red Rising is a masterful work of art.
Let’s deep dive into what I didn’t like.
A Lackluster Beginning
I need to qualify my review by saying I completed the first half of the book in audiobook form.
I know for a fact that this contributed to my dislike of the first half of Red Rising.
It’s not that the narrator did an awful job, it’s just that the accent was soooooo thick it was very hard enjoy.
I generally enjoy a good accent, and throughout the book that accent gets better. And there’s a very good reason that it does, as the character begins to work on getting rid of his thick regional dialect.
But it urked me.
That was the first mark against it.
The next reason I hated the beginning was how slowly it moved. I have said time and time again I need immediate action if you’re to hook me. That immediate action will keep me reading through the subsequent slog that is sure to follow for any book.
Why does this happen?
Well, the reader has to learn characters and names and places and understand why things happen the way they happen, but sometimes authors spend just a little too long on these details that could be filled in later.
In Red Rising, it was spending four full chapters talking about boring, useless stuff for the sake of backstory. These were details that could have been visited in dreams or flashbacks, memories or points of reflection rather than focusing so much on the details I didn’t care about.
Chapter 5 was pretty awesome, but right because to details I didn’t care about until around Chapter 12. But it really took until about Chapter 18-20 for me to really get into the story.
An Explosive Middle & End
But oh, boy. Once you get past the back story, the intermediary chapters, etc, we get into heart of the story.
Most of Red Rising takes place in a Hunger Games style arena where Houses are selected and pitted against each other to scheme, plot, pillage, and conquer until only one House is left standing.
Like seriously. Wow. Around Chapter 29 I flew by the seat of my pants and did not go to bed until I’d finished the book at Chapter 44.
I couldn’t put it down.
I was supposed to be buddy reading Red Rising with a friend.
Chapter 33 is where I SHOULD have stopped and waited for her to catch up so we could discuss, but oh by gosh by golly.
I couldn’t stop.
The action, the twists, the constant ups and downs. The superficial victory stolen away to be sent back to rock bottom only to climb and fight tooth and nail back to the top.
There were so many things I didn’t see coming, even though the author flat out told me it was going to happen, then when it happened I was so taken in with it that I fell hook like and sinker for another plot twist he had set up for me to fall into.
Absolutely masterful Mr. Brown.
So while I didn’t like the beginning of this book, I loved it so much buying Golden Son was a no brainer and instant decision that happened within seconds of finishing Red Rising.
If you’re struggling with the beginning of Red Rising, please, for the love of all that is good, keep reading.
Do not. I repeat, DO NOT give up on Red Rising. You won’t be disappointed. After that, you should be sufficiently addicted to the whole Red Rising series.
4/5 stars that was so very nearly at 5 out of 5.
Looking for more great books?
Check out my review of Scythe by Neal Shusterman