Red Rising (Red Rising #1) // Color-Coded Humans in Space!

red rising coverAuthor: Pierce Brown

Published: January 28th, 2014 by Del Rey (Random House)

Pages: 382

Genres: young adult // science fiction > dystopian

This is a story of deceit, love, loss, oppression. Some events occur in an order unexpected. It is action-filled and contains some intense characters. I thoroughly enjoy dystopian books (when done well). I love to see what ideas authors bring in, creating whole new societies and worlds for us humans. When I read the blurb for RR, it sounded like a book I could like immensely. I wasn’t wrong! I can’t wait to really start on the next one, Golden Son. I loved the action and characters grew on me. The society is color-coded! A hugely popular organizational quirk made human and I thought that was quite a fun concept! I’m a little late to the RR party, but better than never!

Recommended if you like:

  • color-coding because this time it’s done to humans 😉
  • sci-fi action in space mainly on Mars in this one
  • an awesome male lead character with great development and growth
  • fantastic side characters
  • a unique dystopian society
  • death & blood
  • and a dash of political intrigue


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 already 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.


The plot is really cool and I hope it’s taken to some amazing places. The first part of the book was well done. Darrow and Eo’s lives looked at from his POV. The descriptions of work in the mining nation sounds unforgiving and it is. I love the fact that they are a society that cherishes dance. Of all things, that is beautiful and keeps spirits up.

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

After that part 1, it slows down quite a bit, getting Darrow set up and prepared. You meet some interesting characters, though you don’t have enough time to get to know them (that carving sounds excruciating). I thought the writing occasionally felt like short factual statements. Something about it. It worked tremendously at times, other times a smidge less so. But it also allowed it to be more…raw of a writing style, cutting to the heart of things. So I’m mixed about it for now. But the speed got better – about halfway through the book is where it starts to pick up again. I was on my toes! I loved the intensity, the surprises! I was quite fond of learning about the Golds’ society, not expecting the violent nature of them until I was faced with it.

As for the characters, I loved seeing Darrow grow and learn how to be a leader. The way he starts out in the first part is so different from what he becomes and it was wonderful seeing that development. He is an incredibly strong young man, but possibly letting it get to his head a bit? Could be a shield or from suddenly jumping in. He’s had to grow up so fast, hard work in the mines and then thrown into these bloody events. He’s a tough character, headstrong in his goals, intelligent. Friendships were built and broken as you watch other characters change him and themselves.

“I am the Reaper and death is my shadow.” -Darrow

Another favorite of mine is Sevro. I like his small quiet types that get the job done like an assassin. And I love wolves, so. Pax was funny because of his brutish personality, yet kind heart. I didn’t have enough time to get to know Mustang/Virginia as well as I’d have liked, but she seems strong, nice, and intelligent. Not so arrogant, either. Fun stuff!


So, I noticed a comparison being made between this and the Hunger Games frequently…and people giving it flak because apparently any books with similar base settings always mean someone is stealing ideas…..*sighs* Sorry, I just have a problem with people doing that sometimes. Find a better reason to give it lower ratings, please!(I’m generalizing, sorry, I know this isn’t a super common occurrence, but I noticed it occasionally.)

I found only 2 big similarities between these: an unfair dystopian future in which the characters are trying to bring it down and that people are put into a sort of “arena” against each other. Other than that, these 2 stories take on very different paths.

Like the “arena” part: in the Hunger Games, they are placed there specifically to fight to the death. It is very similar to RR with the proctors able to control the area and send items, but the methods of doing so are still different. In RR, they aren’t put there to kill each other. Death can happen, but it’s about discovering who can be a leader, who may cause problems later, their intelligence, etc. It is a learning process.

The dystopian societies are very different, too. First of all, RR expanded to space. They are color-coded, categorized, but not everyone is treated terribly. Just about everyone in the Hunger Games is treated unfairly if you aren’t in the capital. Both books’ MCs want to see the hierarchy shattered. But I don’t think they should be compared so much. RR takes a different path and each series is unique in its own ways. There are TONS of YA novels that you could compare and get even more similarities, but no one picks on those.

Sorry, rant over.


So I really had fun reading this and I can’t wait to see what the next installment has in store! Really glad I found it when it was complete; I would’ve been wanting to know what came next real soon. (*^*)

My rating:

my rating of 4/5




Thanks for reading!

Did you read this book? What did you think of it? Got any favorite characters? Comment below! (Careful of spoilers, though)

~Photo from Goodreads~


6 thoughts on “Red Rising (Red Rising #1) // Color-Coded Humans in Space!”

  1. Wow this sounds like a fabulous book! I have read a lot of dystopian books and a lot of people recommend this one! I think its really cool that the society is actually extended out to space. We don’t typically see that haha From your summary, it seems like there is a lot of subtext and higher level themes from this book which sounds cool! Thanks for a great review! I will definitely add this to my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this series. I am currently listening to Morning Star (book 3) on Audible, and loving it as well. I have several favorite characters, because there are many that are just very lovable, but I think my all-time favorite is Fitchner. He is sarcastic and rough, and funny, and I find him lovable.

    Liked by 1 person

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