Red Rising (Red Rising Series #1)

Red Rising (Red Rising Series #1)

4.4 263
by Pierce Brown

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“Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow.”—Scott Sigler
Pierce Brown’s relentlessly entertaining debut channels the excitement of The Hunger Games

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“Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow.”—Scott Sigler
Pierce Brown’s relentlessly entertaining debut channels the excitement of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

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 lush wilds 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.

Praise for Red Rising
“[A] spectacular adventure . . . one heart-pounding ride . . . Pierce Brown’s dizzyingly good debut novel evokes The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Ender’s Game. . . . [Red Rising] has everything it needs to become meteoric.”Entertainment Weekly

“[A] top-notch debut novel . . . Red Rising ascends above a crowded dystopian field.”USA Today
Red Rising is a sophisticated vision. . . . Brown will find a devoted audience.”Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power . . . reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Fast-paced, gripping, well-written—the sort of book you cannot put down. I am already on the lookout for the next one.”—Terry Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of The Sword of Shannara
“Pierce Brown has done an astounding job at delivering a powerful piece of literature that will definitely make a mark in the minds of readers.”The Huffington Post
“Compulsively readable and exceedingly entertaining . . . a must for both fans of classic sci-fi and fervent followers of new school dystopian
“[A] great debut . . . The author gathers a spread of elements together in much the same way George R. R. Martin does.”
“Pierce Brown’s empire-crushing debut is a sprawling vision.”—Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Pandemic

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Editorial Reviews

In Mars' subterranean regions, 16-year-old Darrow works long exhausting hours as a miner. Other might find this "helldiver" work repulsive, but this gentle boy is buoyed by thoughts of his idyllic teenage wife and his belief that his labor will someday make the surface of the planet habitable. When he discovers that he and the rest of the lowest caste have been duped by the ruling class of the vast cities that actually already live and thrive on the surface, he agrees to become an infiltrator in the above ground realm, a resolve that is redoubled by the loss of the only woman he has ever loved. (P.S. Even before its hardcover release, advance copy readers of this debut dystopian novel made it a viral sensation. This paperback and NOOK Book editions will only spread the enviable buzz.)

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Red Rising Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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The first thing you should know about me is I am my father’s son. And when they came for him, I did as he asked. I did not cry. Not when the Society televised the arrest. Not when the Golds tried him. Not when the Grays hanged him. Mother hit me for that. My brother Kieran was supposed to be the stoic one. He was the elder, I the younger. I was supposed to cry. Instead, Kieran bawled like a girl when Little Eo tucked a haemanthus into Father’s left workboot and ran back to her own father’s side. My sister Leanna murmured a lament beside me. I just watched and thought it a shame that he died dancing but without his dancing shoes.

On Mars there is not much gravity. So you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.

I smell my own stink inside my frysuit. The suit is some kind of nanoplastic and is hot as its name suggests. It insulates me toe to head. Nothing gets in. Nothing gets out. Especially not the heat. Worst part is you can’t wipe the sweat from your eyes. Bloodydamn stings as it goes through the headband to puddle at the heels. Not to mention the stink when you piss. Which you always do. Gotta take in a load of water through the drinktube. I guess you could be fit with a catheter. We choose the stink.

The drillers of my clan chatter some gossip over the comm in my ear as I ride atop the clawDrill. I’m alone in this deep tunnel on a machine built like a titanic metal hand, one that grasps and gnaws at the ground. I control its rockmelting digits from the holster seat atop the drill, just where the elbow joint would be. There, my fingers fit into control gloves that manipulate the many tentacle-like drills some ninety meters below my perch. To be a Helldiver, they say your fingers must flicker fast as tongues of fire. Mine flicker faster.

Despite the voices in my ear, I am alone in the deep tunnel. My existence is vibration, the echo of my own breath, and heat so thick and noxious it feels like I’m swaddled in a heavy quilt of hot piss.

A new river of sweat breaks through the scarlet sweatband tied around my forehead and slips into my eyes, burning them till they’re as red as my rusty hair. I used to reach and try to wipe the sweat away, only to scratch futilely at the faceplate of my frysuit. I still want to. Even after three years, the tickle and sting of the sweat is a raw misery.

The tunnel walls around my holster seat are bathed a sulfurous yellow by a corona of lights. The reach of the light fades as I look up the thin vertical shaft I’ve carved today. Above, precious helium-3 glimmers like liquid silver, but I’m looking at the shadows, looking for the pitvipers that curl through the darkness seeking the warmth of my drill. They’ll eat into your suit too, bite through the shell and then try to burrow into the warmest place they find, usually your belly, so they can lay their eggs. I’ve been bitten before. Still dream of the beast—black, like a thick tendril of oil. They can get as wide as a thigh and long as three men, but it’s the babies we fear. They don’t know how to ration their poison. Like me, their ancestors came from Earth, then Mars and the deep tunnels changed them.

It is eerie in the deep tunnels. Lonely. Beyond the roar of the drill, I hear the voices of my friends, all older. But I cannot see them a half klick above me in the darkness. They drill high above, near the mouth of the tunnel that I’ve carved, descending with hooks and lines to dangle along the sides of the tunnel to get at the small veins of helium-3. They mine with meter-long drills, gobbling up the chaff. The work still requires mad dexterity of foot and hand, but I’m the earner in this crew. I am the Helldiver. It takes a certain kind—and I’m the youngest anyone can remember.

I’ve been in the mines for three years. You start at thirteen. Old enough to screw, old enough to crew. At least that’s what Uncle Narol said. Except I didn’t get married till six months back, so I don’t know why he said it.

Eo dances through my thoughts as I peer into my control display and slip the clawDrill’s fingers around a fresh vein. Eo. Sometimes it’s difficult to think of her as anything but what we used to call her as children.

Little Eo—a tiny girl hidden beneath a mane of red. Red like the rock around me, not true red, rust-red. Red like our home, like Mars. Eo is sixteen too. And she may be like me—from a clan of Red earth diggers, a clan of song and dance and soil—but she could be made from air, from the ether that binds the stars in a patchwork. Not that I’ve ever seen stars. No Red from the mining colonies sees the stars.

Little Eo. They wanted to marry her off when she turned fourteen, like all girls of the clans. But she took the short rations and waited for me to reach sixteen, wedAge for men, before slipping that cord around her finger. She said she knew we’d marry since we were children. I didn’t.

“Hold. Hold. Hold!” Uncle Narol snaps over the comm channel. “Darrow, hold, boy!” My fingers freeze. He’s high above with the rest of them, watching my progress on his head unit.

“What’s the burn?” I ask, annoyed. I don’t like being interrupted.

“What’s the burn, the little Helldiver asks.” Old Barlow chuckles.

“Gas pocket, that’s what,” Narol snaps. He’s the headTalk for our two-hundred-plus crew. “Hold. Calling a scanCrew to check the particulars before you blow us all to hell.”

“That gas pocket? It’s a tiny one,” I say. “More like a gas pimple. I can manage it.”

“A year on the drill and he thinks he knows his head from his hole! Poor little pissant,” old Barlow adds dryly. “Remember the words of our golden leader. Patience and obedience, young one. Patience is the better part of valor. And obedience the better part of humanity. Listen to your elders.”

I roll my eyes at the epigram. If the elders could do what I can, maybe listening would have its merits. But they are slow in hand and mind. Sometimes I feel like they want me to be just the same, especially my uncle.

“I’m on a tear,” I say. “If you think there’s a gas pocket, I can just hop down and handscan it. Easy. No dilldally.”

They’ll preach caution. As if caution has ever helped them. We haven’t won a Laurel in ages.

“Want to make Eo a widow?” Barlow laughs, voice crackling with static. “Okay by me. She is a pretty little thing. Drill into that pocket and leave her to me. Old and fat I be, but my drill still digs a dent.”

A chorus of laughter comes from the two hundred drillers above. My knuckles turn white as I grip the controls.

“Listen to Uncle Narol, Darrow. Better to back off till we can get a reading,” my brother Kieran adds. He’s three years older. Makes him think he’s a sage, that he knows more. He just knows caution. “There’ll be time.”

“Time? Hell, it’ll take hours,” I snap. They’re all against me in this. They’re all wrong and slow and don’t understand that the Laurel is only a bold move away. More, they doubt me. “You are being a coward, Narol.”

Silence on the other end of the line.

Calling a man a coward—not a good way to get his cooperation. Shouldn’t have said it.

“I say make the scan yourself,” Loran, my cousin and Narol’s son, squawks. “Don’t and Gamma is good as Gold—they’ll get the Laurel for, oh, the hundredth time.”

The Laurel. Twenty-four clans in the underground mining colony of Lykos, one Laurel per quarter. It means more food than you can eat. It means more burners to smoke. Imported quilts from Earth. Amber swill with the Society’s quality markings. It means winning. Gamma clan has had it since anyone can remember. So it’s always been about the Quota for us lesser clans, just enough to scrape by. Eo says the Laurel is the carrot the Society dangles, always just far enough beyond our grasp. Just enough so we know how short we really are and how little we can do about it. We’re supposed to be pioneers. Eo calls us slaves. I just think we never try hard enough. Never take the big risks because of the old men.

“Loran, shut up about the Laurel. Hit the gas and we’ll miss all the bloodydamn Laurels to kingdom come, boy,” Uncle Narol growls.

He’s slurring. I can practically smell the drink through the comm. He wants to call a sensor team to cover his own ass. Or he’s scared. The drunk was born pissing himself out of fear. Fear of what? Our overlords, the Golds? Their minions, the Grays? Who knows? Few people. Who cares? Even fewer. Actually, just one man cared for my uncle, and he died when my uncle pulled his feet.

My uncle is weak. He is cautious and immoderate in his drink, a pale shadow of my father. His blinks are long and hard, as though it pains him to open his eyes each time and see the world again. I don’t trust him down here in the mines, or anywhere for that matter. But my mother would tell me to listen to him; she would remind me to respect my elders. Even though I am wed, even though I am the Helldiver of my clan, she would say that my “blisters have not yet become calluses.” I will obey, even though it is as maddening as the tickle of the sweat on my face.

“Fine,” I murmur.

I clench the drill fist and wait as my uncle calls it in from the safety of the chamber above the deep tunnel. This will take hours. I do the math. Eight hours till whistle call. To beat Gamma, I’ve got to keep a rate of 156.5 kilos an hour. It’ll take two and a half hours for the scanCrew to get here and do their deal, at best. So I’ve got to pump out 227.6 kilos per hour after that. Impossible. But if I keep going and squab the tedious scan, it’s ours.

I wonder if Uncle Narol and Barlow know how close we are. Probably. Probably just don’t think anything is ever worth the risk. Probably think divine intervention will squab our chances. Gamma has the Laurel. That’s the way things are and will ever be. We of Lambda just try to scrape by on our foodstuffs and meager comforts. No rising. No falling. Nothing is worth the risk of changing the hierarchy. My father found that out at the end of a rope.

Nothing is worth risking death. Against my chest, I feel the wedding band of hair and silk dangling from the cord around my neck and think of Eo’s ribs.

I’ll see a few more of the slender things through her skin this month. She’ll go asking the Gamma families for scraps behind my back. I’ll act like I don’t know. But we’ll still be hungry. I eat too much because I’m sixteen and still growing tall; Eo lies and says she’s never got much of an appetite. Some women sell themselves for food or luxuries to the Tinpots (Grays, to be technic about it), the Society’s garrison troops of our little mining colony. She wouldn’t sell her body to feed me. Would she? But then I think about it. I’d do anything to feed her . . .

I look down over the edge of my drill. It’s a long fall to the bottom of the hole I’ve dug. Nothing but molten rock and hissing drills. But before I know what’s what, I’m out of my straps, scanner in hand and jumping down the hundred-meter drop toward the drill fingers. I kick back and forth between the vertical mineshaft’s walls and the drill’s long, vibrating body to slow my fall. I make sure I’m not near a pitviper nest when I throw out an arm to catch myself on a gear just above the drill fingers. The ten drills glow with heat. The air shimmers and distorts. I feel the heat on my face, feel it stabbing my eyes, feel it ache in my belly and balls. Those drills will melt your bones if you’re not careful. And I’m not careful. Just nimble.

I lower myself hand over hand, going feetfirst between the drill fingers so that I can lower the scanner close enough to the gas pocket to get a reading. This was a mistake. Voices shout at me through the comm. I almost brush one of the drills as I finally lower myself close enough to the gas pocket. The scanner flickers in my hand as it takes its reading. My suit is bubbling and I smell something sweet and sharp, like burned syrup. To a Helldiver, it is the smell of death.

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Red Rising 4.4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 263 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gotta say, I hate it when books are compared to one another. This book is NOT like Hunger Games, nor like Ender's Game. When a book is written within a specific genre, often times the concepts are similar. Doesn't neccesarily make the books similar. This book was great! I highly enioyed it, and I'm 50. The characters were sympathetic, most likeable. Concept was original and engrossing. Mr. Brown, keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing. Chrissiebo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you cannot read about rape, gore, teens murdering, feces this is not for you. Minimal roamance, much world building (both of Mars and of the game). Plot twists were mostly not predictable, but some cliche. A lot of action, survival, and adventure.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
This was unlike any dystopian novel I've ever read - even the setting was unique - Mars. As with most dystopians, a lot is at stake and in the case of Red Rising, it's freedom of people in a social system categorized by colors - and I don't mean race. Gold is at the top of the food chain and red, the color of soil on Mars, is at the bottom. Darrow pulled me in from page one. He begins as a hard-working guy who loves his wife and family and just wants to provide for them, but by the end of the book, his naive view of the world has changed and he's undergone tremendous growth. I can't wait to see what he does in the sequel. I have to admit, somewhere around the early middle of the book I began to lose interest and felt like the plot strayed a little, but before long, I couldn't put it down. The last half was completely testosterone-filled, which isn't a bad thing for someone who doesn't read chick-lit, and I was totally captivated. The cast of characters also included some strong women who could hold their own in physical challenges against men. With the actions and level of intelligence of some characters in this book, at times I found it difficult to believe they were teenagers, but they are a product of their environment and did what they needed to survive. I would recommend this book to any dystopian lovers and it would be a great read for age 15+ teenage boys (girls too, but we all know it's harder to get a book in front of the guys). This review is based on a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Princessfubar More than 1 year ago
Mindblowlingly AWESOME!  Totally smitten with Darrow from practically the first line.   I was convinced of his love for his wife, his resignation to his 'lot in in life' and his gradual awakening and struggle to take on the oppressors.  He faces these quandaries in combination with questioning his personal ethics and genuine human decency as he discovers that many situations are not black and white.   All these things make him hugely likeable; always growing and always evolving.  I loved the supporting characters as well, not to mention the setting of the tale, but I won’t rave further.  I’ve read it four times this month. 
jayfwms More than 1 year ago
This story of an earth in the future with planetary outposts and a strongly-enforced caste system has all the elements that the best in science fiction has to offer. The new universe is well-described, without too much excess verbiage. Characters are genuine people, with all the good and bad points people can have. The story is exciting and very well told. Action is non-stop, but not at the expense of character development. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am definitely looking forward to more books in this series. I recommend it to everyone looking for a thrilling and suspense-filled novel, not just the science fiction buff. It is the best book I have read in years. Brown does a magnificent job of defining and building the relationships between characters and shifting them through time. He definitely hooks the reader emotionally. As I read more, I simply couldn't stop reading until the end.
The_Wishing_Tree More than 1 year ago
I first heard about and became interested in Red Rising after reading a review in Entertainment Weekly. After reading Red Rising myself I pretty much agree with EW. I really enjoyed it. I am so glad there is no love triangle in this story, however I don't think it is YA. As far as I know it is sold in the Sci-Fi section. It also has more violence than a YA novel (more on that below), and there are curse words. I do see the similarities to the other books it's been compared to; i.e. Hunger Games, Ender's Game, Lord of the Flies, and Game of Thrones. While it has a lot of those elements I think it has become its own story and has a rich universe. The colorful characters (no pun) and settings are well thought out. It's well paced with a mix of suspense, action, heartbreak, tactical planing, political manipulation, romance, psychological mind games, etc. I loved the development of the relationships. When I think about it it is what I loved most about the book. I love Mustang. She is my favorite. (I do admit I guessed her relationship with the Jackal when the Jackal said, "Cheat or be cheated." It does get really violent. While some of it happens off the page (some girls are rapped) and people lose body parts, it is none the less heartbreaking to read about. I had borrowed a copy from the library but now I have dl to my nook. There were so many good parts I wanted to highlight. Also, I will want to reread it before the sequel, Golden Son, (scheduled to be published January 2015) comes out. 4 out 5 bloodydamn scythes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I need the next book and I needed it yesterday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so surprised by how much I loved this book. It started out a little slow, but then took off. Lot's of excitement, interesting characters, lot's of twists. Great Book, can't wait to read the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd say this book is more like 3.5 than 3. The story is good, but I didn't care much for the writing though I got used to it. It felt just a bit clumsy and clunky to me. I felt there was to much telling what happened and not showing me. It made the characters feel wooden, though I guess Darrow would have to be a bit unfeeling and driven as a character. It was very violent and by the end it wasn't shocking and the battles got a bit boring. I'd check out the next installment, but I hope there is more story and intrigue/politics in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just read it! This amazing piece of Pierce Brown's imagination is surely a gift. An incredible adventure that has only just begun. Once you get acquainted with Darrow you'll truly want to indulge your curiosity and follow his ever changing life as a Red.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything about this book is wonderful. The writing. The setting. The plot. The characters. I can hardly wait for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great when I first started it. But after that things only got worse. The main thing that was so exhausting about it was all the overdone torture scenes they were just to brutal. If I were to give it an ge rating then it would be 15 and up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cannot wait for the next one. Fun ride.
mollymortensen More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected, but still good Point of View: First Predictability: 1 out of 5 (Where 1 is George RR Martin (If the characters make a plan or think about the future I know it isn’t going to go that way.) And 5 is Cinder (where I guessed what was going to happen long before it did, but it was still a great book.) My Rating: 7/10 Stars Warnings: Parts of this book are brutal and violent. If you’re someone who’s bothered by these things, don’t read this book! My Review: At the start of the book the world stinks. It does in most dystopians, but Red Rising brings it to a whole new level. Usually I don’t like where the book starts and then the timeline rewinds, but it worked here, because things were so bad I needed the hint that they’ll improve. I loved the beginning of Red Rising! It started out so strong. I liked the latter half of the book too, but not nearly as much as that first quarter. It just wasn’t as unique and interesting, plus it was more brutal and violent, which I understand why, but I didn’t like it. [Warning: Mild Spoilers in the next paragraph, which I wish I knew before reading this.] This book was really like two books. The first quarter felt like a dystopian set in space and then the institute which we are expecting to be a school is actually a giant war game. I think the reason for mixed reviews is because the beginning of the book is so good and we think we know what we’re in for and them BAM something else happens for the rest of the book. The Good The beginning of this book is amazing! So much potential for this series! The world building and the culture created in Red Rising is fantastic! I can’t wait to learn more about it in the rest of the trilogy. The technology that we’re shown is also cool and I liked how the history was told, so we know how the world wound up this way. Sometimes with such fantastic worlds it seems unreal, but even being set so far in the future I can see the world becoming like this. The romance. Yes, there’s romance in this book, and it feels real and is well done. This is a fast paced book full of action and twists and turns. (There are so many that saying this spoils nothing.) I was never bored. We got to know the minor characters well and they had good personalities, Sevro is my favorite. (The tricky little runt) The Bad The main character is a know it all, which considering he’s a teenage boy makes sense, but as the story goes Darrow becomes harder to like. That’s my main problem with this book, Darrow. He’s a nice enough guy, but sometimes he’s just hard to like. I understand why he’s angry, but his rage and arrogance make him unlikeable. The author’s intention might not have been for him to come off arrogant, but because this novel takes place over the course of two years much of this story is told (Some things that really should’ve been shown.) and Darrow is telling us how great he is instead of us seeing him be amazing, so he comes off arrogant. The slang! I know it’s part of the world building, but it can be annoying when I don’t understand half of what’s said. Would I recommend this book? Yes, but only to some people. Will I read the Sequel? Yes, I have to know what happens next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an entertaining story, but there is no way I will read book #2. First of all these new writers get way ahead of themselves. Mr. Brown really feels his second book in this series is worth $13.99, not a chance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful blend of hardcore action and genius intrigue without excessive pesky drama or love triangles. So happy to have found this book and can only hope when the second comes out it continues the awesome ride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly fleshed-out characters full of nuances, excellent world-building and lots of unexpected twists. An absolutely great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't understand why every other review complains how this book "started out slow", the writer set the scene and gave you a connection to the heroine that lasts throughout the entire book. I was hooked within the first fifteen to thirty pages. Couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mortal competition book. My entire family has read it and cannot wait for the second book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Red through this in2 days. Just couldnt put it down. Didnt eben want to go to work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Besides class warfare similiarities with Hunger Games a very refreshing scifi.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beyond entertaining and well written. The story-line will have you by the edge of your seat. One of the books that you will probably read more than once in your lifetime.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story. Drug on in some places.
Anonymous 8 days ago
Oh hey babe