Five Reasons You Should Read Pierce Brown’s Red Rising

Pierce Brown's Red Rising

Almost 20 years of reviewing genre fiction has transformed me into a skeptic. Every time I read a press release or receive an email touting the next big blockbuster release, eye rolling inevitably ensues. I’ve reviewed hundreds of novels that have been publicized as instant classics and compared to iconic works of literature, only to be bitterly disappointed again and again.

Sadly, very few novels live up to the hype—but I’m here to tell you that Pierce Brown’s debut novel, Red Rising, a dystopian science fiction tale set on a terraformed Mars, actually exceeds its prepublication praise. It will be one of the most immersive and memorable books you’ll read this year. And if that stamp of approval isn’t enough, here are five more reasons to seek out and read this stellar novel, hitting shelves today:

1. Comparison to The Hunger Games don’t do it justice. If it’s a newly released dystopian novel, chances are good it’s going to be compared to Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy—and Red Rising has been, in numerous reviews. But in my opinion it exceeds The Hunger Games across the board: The backstory is richer and deeper. The hero, Darrow, is far more complex than Katniss Everdeen. And, yes, Red Rising—the first in a projected trilogy—would make a better movie than The Hunger Games. This doesn’t detract from the fact that Collins’ novels are extraordinarily entertaining and thematically profound. All I’m saying is I like Red Rising better.

2. The potential audience for it is virtually limitless. Since the protagonist is a 16-year-old miner (in a lower caste, known as Reds, that lives underground), it’s a no-brainer that this will sell well with young adult readers who gravitate toward dystopian epics. But the storyline has a decidedly literary undertone to it—Roman mythology references abound, and there’s even a subtle reference to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. But, above all else, it’s a heart-wrenching love story. An addictively readable fusion of Lord of the Flies, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Ender’s Game, and Brave New World, this novel transcends genre categorization and will resonate with readers regardless of age, gender, or genre predilection.

3. The depth of characterization is incredibly impressive. Darrow is a simply unforgettable hero—a lowly Red who has seen his young wife Eo murdered and his entire family essentially enslaved, he gets the opportunity to continue his wife’s dream to free his people when a group of rebels saves him from death and essentially rebuilds him into the form of a Gold, those god-like humans who rule the Society. But I enjoyed other, supporting characters just as much as Darrow, if not more: Mustang, the brilliant female Gold whom Darrow befriends when he enters the Gold’s elite academy; Sevro, the little Gold who barely makes it into the academy and survives in the unlikeliest of ways; Pax; Titus; the list goes on…

4. It’s not just entertaining, it’s brutally enlightening. As Darrow enters into the cutthroat culture of the Golds, he is relearning how to live in a world powered by manipulation, ruthlessness, and extreme violence. Woven into the storyline are deeply philosophical morsels that add another layer to the narrative tapestry. Here’s one of my favorite lines: “Look into yourself, Darrow, and you’ll realize that you are a good man who will have to do bad things.” Time and time again, Darrow is forced to question himself, his purpose in life, and what it really means to be human. Try putting this book down once you begin reading it. I dare you!

5. It’s the perfect blend of commercial fiction and literary genre fiction. Because of the tightly plotted, action-packed storyline, brilliantly realized and identifiable characters, and breakneck pacing, this debut is all but guaranteed to be a commercial success—but there is a real thematic depth and artistic beauty to this novel that can’t be ignored. When you read Red Rising, you’ll be more than entertained, you’ll be changed.

Will you be reading Red Rising?

  • Michelle {Book Hangovers}

    Must read book of 2014 for sure!!!! Awesome Debut! Good Job to Pierce Brown, keep the awesomeness coming!! xoxo

  • Kim Harrison

    Yep. I will.

  • Kat Richardson

    Sounds great and since you are recommending it, then I’m reading it.

  • Marcela aka Bookaholic Cat

    I can’t agree more with your post. I loved this book so much, I haven’t stopped talking about it since I read it. I already gifted it to two of my friends and recommended it to everybody I know.
    I’m sure it’ll make my top 5 favorite books of 2014.

  • Lulu S

    Sounds like my kind of read. Thanks for the review.

  • abbey 8135

    What age do you think people should start reading it at my daughter’s 11 and she loves the hunger games series and she is reading the Divergent series

    • Katie

      Considering it deals loosely with rape and heavily with murder, I would say no, your 11 year old shouldn’t read it.

    • Valocis

      You know your daughter best and I think it best that you read it for yourself and decide, but in my personal opinion, I think it is pathetically stupid to try and shelter your daughter from subjects such as rape and murder, when these things are what will affect her life as she grows up and starts developing, both physically and mentally, into a young women.

    • BMan

      I agree with waiting. I have an 11YO mature reader also (who has read Ender’s Game, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc) but I feel this one can wait a little. I describe it as an adult Hunger Games book. Besides, Hollywood won’t get ahold of it for a few years so you have time!!

  • Johnathan Shelton

    This Book is so f’in epic omg I couldn;t put it down!! And that Ender Wiggin reference was awesomeeeeee

    • logan

      I read the whole book. Where was the ender’s game reference? I must have missed it.

      • Nicole Rose Tupper-Brown

        One of the characters named great warriors over the years and ‘Wiggins’ is thrown out as one of them.

    • Daniel S

      I caught that too nice little hat tip to Card by Pierce Brown

      • Daniel S

        In the second book there is a nice little Hobbit reference as well…. “what have I got in my pocket?”

  • greenrambler

    This is the best book I’ve read all year. Pretty sure Pierce Brown read the Hunger Games, Divergent, Enders Game, The Maze Runner and thought- these are good, but you know what would make them better?!? Extreme violence, higher stakes, Roman god-themed sci-fi warfare, deadly supporting characters, a little less teenagers-in-love and Game of Thrones-style backstabbing and political intrigue. And he was definitely right!
    Fantastic book, can’t wait for the sequel.

  • Natalie Hickman

    I am reading this book now, and agree it is better than The Hunger Games. This book is Awesome, an absolute MUST READ!!!! 🙂 My favorite book thus far!

  • Gede Ananda Nugraha

    I am disgruntled to find out the sequel isn’t out yet.

  • Hank Hootan

    i stumbled upon this book series a few months ago. was just searching for dystopian scifi and luckily came across Red Rising. The books is honestly amazing. I read the first one within a week and the 2nd book, Golden Son, just got released a month ago. I had that book preorder to be delivered to my kindle app the day it got released.

    The book really does make you feel apart of it. You will have a special bond with Darrow au Andromedus. The way i try and describe it to people is to combine Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Harry Potter into a futuristic scifi and you got this book. The author of this article is right, there’s a lot more to this book than Hunger Games and is not just a basic story. There’s a lotttt to it, and it can be a little confusing at first learning all the colors in society and their purposes. but after the first 20 pages you will not want to put this book down.

  • Daniel S

    I did the audiobook version it is masterfully read, these two books were amazing to say the least.

  • Peter

    I am listening to this now and about 60% into it. It was a rough start with the narrators accent and hard to follow the story line, but it got better as the picture began to be painted without all the attention to the backstory and details. I am really enjoying it now and look forward to my commute to see what’s coming next. There are times that I feel like I’m in a blend of Game of Thrones (books), Hunger Games, Divergent series, and Harry Potter with a little bit of Survivor and Big Brother tactics mixed in. I’m not comparing them since they are all different stories, but it’s like a great big melting pot of visuals and characters all coming together to create a futuristic yet medieval landscape with tribes and castles. I’ll see if I get as connected to Darrow as I have to James Stark (Sandman Slim), the star of Richard Kadrey’s 7 (soon to be 8) book series.

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