Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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Baby Bookmoon Book #1: Anyone who frequents my blog is well aware of my obsession regarding the Red Rising series. With Luke and I expecting our first baby in May 2021, I’ve decided to embark on a baby bookmoon where until our baby girl arrives I’ll be rereading my favorite books in audiobook so she can listen along. First two series up are Red Rising and A Song of Ice and Fire, with the plan is to yo-yo back and forth between the series. I’m excited for this literary journey! What would you pick for your baby bookmoon reads?

Rate: 5/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

This will be the third time I’ve reviewed Red Rising. I’d reposted the same reviews the first and second time. While my original review still rings true, when reading this first book in this series yet again, and knowing how Brown will grow as a writer and how the series will evolve granted new insights. There is one reoccurring complaint I’ve heard from friends and family when reading Red Rising that I’d neglected to mention in my original review. This issue is that the first fourth of this book reads very slow and ordinary. Spending years as a hype woman for this series, I’d forgotten this important fact and in this most recent reread, I was shocked at how slow the beginning really was, even to the point of wondering if I’d misplaced my literary love. Thankfully, the worldbuilding by Brown was worth it and the big reveal that he’d been leading us toward was special, even when knowing what is waiting Darrow up the elevator. Once Brown catches his stride we are treated to what makes this series special as Darrow learns to lead under circumstances that contain all the best elements of other familiar YA literature, combined in a fresh, and suspenseful mix where no character is safe. This threat of any character potentially meeting an unanticipated demise, regardless of their perceived importance, alone elevates Red Rising beyond any contemporary comparisons in this inaugural platform. Overall, I enjoyed this reread just as much the third time around and eagerly look forward to rereading the rest of the series for the first time.

Original Review (No Spoilers):

Without exaggeration, Red Rising, while being comparable to the first books in the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner series, manages to outshine all of them. Well, perhaps I’ll backtrack slightly and place Pierce Brown’s novel on par with Maze Runner, which will always hold a soft spot. Brown, using brilliant, insightful imagery, details a futuristic world broken into many, very distinct castes. The lowest of the classes, Red, is genetically designed for difficult, manual labor, specifically for colonizing/mining Mars for crucial fuel and metals. The complacency of a young, talented lowRed, Darrow is tested when tragedy strikes his contented, sheltered community. Brown successfully weaves a story filled with clever twists and an underlying humor that literally made me laugh out loud, much to the confusion of my husband. Overall, read Red Rising immediately before everyone and their brother jumps on the bandwagon! Soon all of your coworkers will be chatting about Darrow and his dangerous quest.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  1. Why did the Sons of Ares choose a Red as the caste from which they carve a Gold from? Other classes such as Obsidian would have the needed strength, while Yellow would specifically add intelligence, or maybe a Green to be able to manipulate technology. It also seems like an individual from lowRed would have an overarching disadvantage due to an unavoidable ignorance of Mar’s surface life.
  2. I found Darrow, during the games, to have similar insights, leadership mistakes, and revelations as Ender Wiggin. Appropriately, there is a reference to Wiggin during a conversation between Darrow and his Proctor.
  3. I’d suspected that the Sons of Ares would not put all of their eggs in one basket with Darrow, and that he would find another Red during the progression of the game, however I did not see that large, intimidating, and violent Titus being a chosen Red. His rage and insistence toward vengeance would potentially ruin the mission at hand. I am curious as to his history/story? Was Dancer behind his Carving or another arm of the Sons of Ares?
  4. Similar to Hunger Games, Red Rising, forces children to commit heinous acts to survive. A critical difference between the two involves the participants in the first example are fighting for their lives, while those of the later, are not necessarily facing death with the main goal of cultivating skills which will allow them to rise within their society.
  5. Sevro must know that Darrow is a Red, or at least hiding something. How will this loose end come into play during the sequel?
  6. I felt relieved and surprised that Mustang did not betray Darrow. Her character, in general, was refreshing as a strong, female character, which exhibited, heightened perception and intelligence during various difficult situations.
  7. As much as I enjoyed Mustang’s personality, I found myself increasingly disappointed, and frustrated with Cassius’ character as the story progressed. He was so blinded by family honor and perceived insults that he lost his grasp on the ‘bigger picture,’ which entails succeeding at the game in order to further his family interests, especially with the loss of his brother. Cassius, seemed to lose sight of the fact that all of the Golds were forced in the Culling to kill or be killed, therefore not one of the Golds’ hands left the ruthless Institute innocent.
  8. Will Darrow accept that all Golds do not agree with individuals such as the ArchGovonor and the ironGold’s traditional views? Mustang and Cassius’ Mother independently expressed very progressive views explicitly noting the worth of the lower castes. Perhaps the Gold culture doesn’t need destroyed but reassessed and updated?
  9. Why did Darrow agree to join the ArchGovernor’s ranks? He could have easily rose through the Gold society with Cassius’ father or Lorn au Arcos? The ArchGovernor’s personal and professional problems, caused by Darrow, might hinder Darrow’s ability to rise far enough within the Golds to help his people.


  1. I also enjoyed Red Rising and should re-read but my TBR list is so long. Congratulations on the impending arrival. 2021 will certainly be a happy New Year in your family. I hope you will continue traveling once the little one arrives.

    Liked by 1 person

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