Red Rising Book Summary and Discussion
The reader follows the main character, Darrow, in a dystopian world. Darrow begins the story as a young man, only 16 years old, newlywed and risking his life everyday mining gas in the core of Mars. Darrow is happy. He has a loving, beautiful wife named Eo, he's the best at his job and is expecting a large reward (called a Laurel) made up of food and supplies for his hard work and the risks involved. With that being said, Darrow is a Red, the lowest of societies color standard. Darrow doesn't mind, he thinks by mining he is serving a bigger purpose—to get the planet ready for the people of Earth to inhabit. Reality swiftly kicks Darrow when the Laurel is given to another color, and he realizes that a Red can never win one and that is just how life is for them. His wife decides to surprise Darrow after these devastating events by doing something forbidden to Reds. Naturally, they are caught and punished, setting off a chain reaction of events turning Darrow's simple adequate life into a story of rebellion, love, and death. Soon, Darrow, with a curved sling blade in hand, will become the Reaper, and there is no turning back from there.
Society has three stages: Savagery, Ascendance, Decadence. The great rise because of Savagery. They rule in Ascendance. They fall because of their own Decadence.
— Pierce Brown
5 Reasons This Book Is Amazing
- Darrow's age: As a reader, I sometimes feel that the age depictions in YA (young adult) fantasy's can be overly unrealistic in retrospect to what these characters are achieving. In Darrow's case, he is young but hardened by a life of struggle and poverty. Being a Red he's had to earn everything he has in his life and that has hardened him. Besides the whims of young love, Darrow is a man. When dropped into a world of over-privileged Golds (the highest-ranking members of society) Darrow stands out because of this maturity. His character may be 16 but to a Red that is almost equivalent to a middle-aged man, and this to me was great for developing that realism that is needed in a dystopian fantasy.
- Cliffhangers: Every story should keep the reader fully engaged from the first page to the last. Red Rising does this without breaking a sweat. If you don't plan on reading this book in one sitting, you are going to have to rip yourself away from the ends of each chapter for the need to know what happens next is unlike anything I have ever read before.
- Greek mythology: This novel is constantly making references to popular Greek mythology, and I loved it! Being set in a dystopian world ruled by dictators otherwise known as the Golds. They are built and bread like the Gods of Greek mythology. Descriptions like "He reminds me of Pegasus that saved Andromeda" make it easy to visualize this Godlike society.
- Character development: Darrow isn't perfect. Though he is way more mature than the Golds he is surrounded by, he makes mistakes that are both big and small. Learning from each one to help him grow. In the beginning, he is ruled by his emotions. By the end, he is no longer a "sheep in wolf's clothing", but a wolf, a warrior, and a leader.
- Stage and Plot: When I began reading this book I was concerned about originality. I thought it was going to be just another Hunger Games or Divergent. Don't get me wrong, there are similarities, however, it was the best of both series plus a lot extra! The setting and plot worked together in a dance that was so beautifully choreographed that it made me wonder how I ever read either of those series and only just picked up Red Rising.
I learn more when I make mistakes, so long as they don't kill me.
— Pierce Brown
Why I Almost Didn't Read This Book: The Lingo
I have one complaint/warning for those choosing to pick up this novel... I found the first chapter utterly confusing. My theory is that Pierce Brown had meticulously developed the slang for this novel prior to writing it and assumed the audience would automatically understand what Darrow was saying. I didn't. I found the lingo and terminology over the first 10 -15 pages confusing, and almost put the book down in fear I wouldn't understand what was happening. However, this does change and though the terminology is used throughout the story it is less frequent and better understood.
If it weren't for his brilliant cliffhangers I may not have made it past the first chapter and missed out on the brilliance that is Red Rising.
Things are set in stone. Things are well ordered. Reds at the bottom, everyone else standing on our backs. Now you're looking at me and you're realizing that we don't bloodydamn like it down there. Red is rising.
— Pierce Brown
Don't Judge a Book By Its... Genre Stereotype
I underestimated Red Rising, but I am so glad I did for this is one of the best books I have read in the last 2 years. It filled a void in my mental book collection that I didn't know I was missing. A must-read!
If you've already read this novel, I would love to read your thought's in the comments section as well as any questions you may have about this book. I have many other book reviews on Owlcation. The support is always welcome!