Let’s Talk About: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Hello! I’m back from my book slump from ACOMAF. I love ACOMAF to the bones but I’m annoyed at the same time. That’s what happens when you read a good book. You gPierceBrownsRedRisinget hangovers from it and then you can’t read another book. The only way to defeat the slump is to read another good book. And that’s what we’re talking about in this post.

I’m in complete utter amazement after I read this book. Some books leave you speechless after you read them and then there’s this book where I am trying to silently scream at 4am in the morning.

This book is NUTS. If you have started this book and about 7 chapters in, you found it a little confusing and slow and you don’t want to read it anymore, I’m telling you, DO NOT GIVE UP. I felt the same way, but once you push through reading it, you’ll see that this book has A LOT to offer. It didn’t only give me the feels, it also gave me the chills! This book just earned its spot in my favorites.

I have a little analogy for you, guys. You remember this ride from every amusement park ever?

5298250157_7edef324f8The experience from reading Red Rising  is like the feeling you get on this ride. It rises up agonizingly slow and you start to rethink all the bad choices that you made in life including riding this ride. And if it’s so high in the sky, you start to feel bored. And so you reach the top and you hear it click, then your life flashes before you –And BAM!! IT’S GOING DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN SO FAST! And you’re in a frenzied euphoria. And you thought it’s over but it stops halfway down and goes back up again and down and back up again until the ride is over and you think to yourself “This ride is SICK” but you want to ride the damn thing all over again.

And if you’re a faint hearted, then rethink about reading this book. Because it’s super action packed and really kicks serious ass and it really feels like riding an insane amusement park ride. And if like me, you like that kind of frenzy then go ahead and pick this baby up from the shelf.

The synopsis I’m gonna put here is just from Goodreads because if I do it myself I’m afraid I might slip and stumble on a spoiler. Here goes:

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

Discussion with Spoilers

Before we go on discussing scenes and characters and stuff, I would like to talk about the concept and all that writing jazz that went down.

This book reminds me of a lot of series like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Game of Thrones and Heroes of Olympus but paradoxically, it’s still very original. To prove my point in originality, for starters, it’s set on Mars. Can you ever imagine Game of Thrones on Mars?

That part where they’re still in the wilderness and eating like campers, very Hunger Games. The concept of capture the flag or collect the standards, for this novel, is very divergent. A few more chapters in, they have banner men, horses, sigils and stuff that sounds pretty medieval and reminds me of Game of Thrones. As for the Percy Jackson parts, well, the institute is pretty much divided into Roman gods houses.

The caste system that they have is very The Selection. Only Pierce used colors instead of numbers and the colors isn’t like a metaphysical thing that’s branding you. You can actually see it in hair, skin color, eye color and stuff. At first, I was really just absorbent of the whole thing. I thought “Maybe that’s just how it is in this world, like, you know, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, where there are just really new creatures and that’s perfectly normal.” And then I read the first part of Golden Son and I saw that normal people was biologically altered for them to have these colors and traits and for them to pass it on to offspring, so that the colors carry on without having the doctors do it with every single person. Kind of bright, right?  And they did this because they thought that building a hierarchy like this would place everything and everyone in order.

But how did anyone ever agreed to being a red? I mean, if they had people knowing this, wouldn’t everyone like to be a gold? Was it draw lots? Or were they tested to see where they would fit in perfectly? Yeah, maybe the latter one. But was it forced upon them? Probably.

I was initially confused with the writing and vocabulary of this book. Maybe, my mind dictionary is rusty. I didn’t follow some things that happened in the early chapters. Maybe because I really wasn’t giving it much attention and focus because I was sidetracked by the diction used. My goodness, I thought it was like a 600 pages book but it’s only like 300+.  But Is it worth it?

Is there friggin’ ice in Antarctica?

I was really glad that I pushed through it and didn’t give up. I later realized that it was just phase. If it wasn’t for those long tedious beginning chapters, the last epic ones wouldn’t be as FANTASTIC! Pierce risked doing an elaborate world building in exchange for those extremely smart fight and action scenes. And he just won the gamble.

There are 4 parts in this book and the one that got me committed into finishing it is when Darrow was being trained to act like a Gold, which I think is halfway through the second part called Reborn. I have to admit, this book is not for everyone. If you’re not into science fiction, this book is not the best option to get you into liking science fiction. Because like I said, it’s not super easy to get into it. However, if you like sci-fi, this book, IT’S FABULOUS. TERRIFIC. AMAZEBALLS.

I’m a proud hopeless romantic, and I admit, I look forward to seeing a great couple in every book that I read because for most books, especially in YA, they’re present and it’s good. I love a good romance. That said, I liked that Red Rising didn’t  focus on that aspect of the story.

I was initially shocked when I found out that our main character was already married. Because it’s hard to convince readers of their love if they hadn’t seen it in their minds. So I thought “Ah, she’s gonna die.” Then we met Eo, and despite my thinking about already-done romance, I loved Eo and Darrow together. It weirdly works. The author knew that we need to get attached to Eo to get the same conviction that Darrow feels towards fulfilling this dream. But she really has to die. I cried when she did. Since I really loved Eo, I was happy that Darrow didn’t get a love interest until like the 70% of the book, which was 2 years after she died. Seems reasonable for me.

This book did mess with my preference.😂 I told you I loved romance, but what I didn’t like that much is politics. And political strategies and motives. And things like that. I don’t know. I never have the patience for it. But with Red Rising my preference just switched! Suddenly, I’m not anticipating love stories and the politics present in this book stunned me!

And not like the color concept or the hierarchy, but what I was amazed by is the Society and the politics and the lessons they’re taught in the game. It is very smart and provoked my kinda deep thoughts on civilization and stuff! I loved it. The writing style is so good. It’s written very intelligently because It’s narrated by a very smart character.

That ends my “technicalities” talk. I now react to the jazz that went down in this book.

First off, I cannot believe that the Reds, don’t know that they’re being enslaved. They actually bit that bull crap that they are doing this to make Mars habitable. Yes, they technically make the Mars habitable but they don’t get to live on the habitable part! They barely breathe clean oxygen!

I was reading that 1st chapter and I feel like I’m in that tunnel and it’s hard to breathe with those things on my imagination! I just don’t understand, for generations, Reds have been mining that damn place! And no one ever did ask: “Hello? Is this mining thing even working to make Mars livable?” “How long do we have to mine this? DUDE, it’s been years and years.” “Can we see what it’s like on the surface? You know, just to keep us motivated.” REALLY? NO ONE? Cause if that happened in real life, people would  be like “WHERE DO OUR FREAKING TAX GO? I DON’T SEE IT!!!” You hear those things all the time right? Reds are so brain washed by this whole system and they’re the only color who doesn’t live on the surface. Most Reds. If it comes to war between Reds and Golds, Reds have a chance ’cause they’ve been exposed to harsh environments while most Golds are complacent in life.

Eo’s death is not surprising, I saw it coming. But the fact that they, the loved ones, had to pull their feet to kill them, DAMN, THAT’S JUST TWISTED. How could you live knowing you might as well have given your wife the killing blow? Plus, they can’t even bury their dead. Tears are flowing. And it feels like Nehemia all over again.💔😢💔

I’m gonna be surprised if you’re surprised that he’s not dead. Duh? But what freaked me out was, he was actually buried! BURIED!😧 He was covered in dirt! As if isn’t it enough that I feel asphyxiated in that tunnel, HE HAS TO BE UNABLE TO BREATHE TOO AND UNDER THE GROUND. Great! I feel amazing.

We totally knew that somehow he’s gonna be involved in rebel groups. It almost always starts there. The thing is, we actually didn’t get much from it aside from the transformation. We haven’t met Ares yet and where in the society he is. I think he’s a Gold. Because he has that kind of powers whatsoever. I thought the scythe and sheep card thing was brilliant. He just ate the card like nothing and Dancer looked like he got the response he was looking for.

 I do like Dancer, I feel like he’s the closest father figure, as of now, that Darrow could have and I hope that doesn’t change. As for Harmony,I don’t like her. She’s too uhm, not sassy… angry. And Darrow doesn’t need that kind of negativity in his life after losing Eo and before sending himself in a batsh*t university. I don’t hate her, but I’d rather not read about her really. The anger ate the girl.

That transformation is one of my favorite transformations ever! It’s kind of like Deadpool without the scars and like Captain America where he went from lanky to being a hunk. But all that comes with pain to tithe.

There’s some parts that involves scientific crap but I don’t think you need an advanced course to understand some anatomical terms that are mentioned. High school biology is enough. As for me, I’m currently on my pre-med, so I have a slight background on these things. I’m super nerdy when it comes to things like this that’s why I love love love sci-fi! Without having to understand the gory details, Darrow described perfectly how much pain he went through. Now, imagine how screwed up it is if you actually put a deep understanding on the whole process. When he said that they’re intentionally tearing the muscles on a cellular level so when it heals it’s gonna be stronger, I cringed. And they did it for like a week, DAMN, when I do a 30 minute cardio I feel like I’m dying! The way they did alter his eugenics and his inside anatomy is BRILLIANT. But that makes me look at Mickey like a mad scientist.

I loved that part where his mind kind of like learned 3000 years worth of literature in just one night. SO AWESOME. Can I please do that on finals please?

So… The institute. I imagined more like a university but with barracks and stuff. Just like in Ember in the Ashes. But what Pierce gave us is A VALLEY. Like a freaking actual country of the students. I just remembered Camp Half-Blood for a moment, it’s in kind of a valley and there are houses to get sorted to named after the gods. Only, CHB feels like a community, like with families. This institute is an arena for the students to build their own freaking hierarchy!!!😫😤

And it’s bloody and brutal with a slight consolation of having medbots on stand by. But those are not fooling anyone. On the many events of injury leading to death, there has been zero medbots around. Because clearly, proctors decide who dies and who lives.

The standards, I was a little confused at first, but then yeah, it was only the flag in capture the flag and all I can see in my head is a scepter with a stamp mark at the end of it.

Now, I usually don’t discuss characters intentionally when I write book discussions, it kind of like just come around whenever I talk about a book. But this book has so many distinct characters that I feel like I’m not doing it justice if I don’t talk about them. But I’ll do my best to be straight forward about them and make it shorter.

1st stop, Darrow. I can’t say that he’s one of my favorite male protagonists yet but I really like him a lot. Before Eo died, he was adorably cocky to Eo about his looks and skills. We kind of lost that in the game. Of course, it’s bound to appear again now that he and Mustang has a thing. But while they weren’t yet, we saw his arrogance and sassy side in the battle field. And he’s so casual about it. I gasped out loud when he just stabbed the Jackal’s hand into the table and casually introduced himself. MIND BLOWN. It leaves such a strong impression, in a good way, on the readers.

And in a span of 300+ pages, I can’t say that Darrow’s character developed, nope. IT HAS EVOLVED. He was narrow minded at first. Really skeptic about change. And then by the last chapter, he just agreed to be a part of his wife’s murderer’s family. WOW. I thought, he was going to talk to the 3rd something in the society if he has some offers for him BUT DAMN…

As for Cassius, Roque and Sevro. I like all of them. Even though Cassius really intended for Darrow to die. You kinda see where he’s coming from. But man! Kill or be killed! What is anyone supposed to do? And they were really close too… I hope we get to get him on our side again. Roque, I like well enough, but didn’t leave much of an impression to me aside from that he’s a poet. Although, the hug when Darrow went back to the Mars castle is really heart wrenching!😭

Sevro, now that’s my boy! He’s a little weird at first and then we get to know him. He’s always been underestimated!😭 When they matched him to Priam, they expected him to die! And he’s never given credit for all the standard hiding and retrieving that he did. Poor baby. I think, Sevro will stick with us to end even with all the secrets out in the open. Brilliant character.

Another character that wrenched my heart is Pax. He’s a biggie that’s pure softie inside. I remember the thugs from Tangled holding a ceramic unicorn. So adorable. And he sacrificed so much. The gang bonded so much that he didn’t even think twice about saving Darrow. I’ll miss this big guy.

Mustang is a character I love just as she is. I don’t ship Musrrow. But I don’t not ship them. I have really neutral feelings about the shipping in this book. Not that the romance in this book doesn’t work, but as of now, if Darrow’s happy, I’m happy. And I like Mustang as a character, she’s smart and loyal and good and what the golds should be like and I want more of her. I do hope the ship sails because if it didn’t and she became an enemy… Damn.

Antonia on the other side, I don’t super duper hate. It’s obvious she’s a bitch. She knows it, acts like it, uses it to her advantage. I am mad when she trapped Darrow and killed Lea, but then again, when she smiled at Darrow on their victory party against Minerva, I didn’t cave in for a second. I’m like “Bitches like this don’t go softy. DO NOT TRUST HER.”

This is where my Imagination went all Game of Thrones. I just imagined Titus as Khal Drogo. For some reason, my mind can’t comprehend that all these people are blonde. So I keep imagining people that have nothing to do with these characters to play the role. Titus just had that creepy vibe off of him. He was just really cruel most of the time. I was really caught off guard that he was a red. He’s more like an obsidian to me. I’m glad that he can’t endanger us but I’m also sad that another red killed him

I pictured Tactus as Ramsay Bolton. I am weird, I know. He’s definitely not as sadistic, but he’s a spoiled brat. Before those lashings, he seemed like a go with the flow kind of dude. No beliefs. Doesn’t give a damn, as long as he’s alive, he’s fine. I still don’t like the guy but now that he’s a loyal dude, he’s tolerable.  I’d rather have him as a friend than a foe.

I have to admire Jackal for using Darrow’s strategy to fool the Primus of Apollo to fool Darrow. When Darrow opened the gate, he just seemed really smiley and humble and desperate in my mind, and somehow he became Olly. So weird that in my mind, the Jackal is Olly. He’s such a pampered son of a gun. Twisted too. My God! He literally carved his way out with that knife! It’s sick.  We don’t know a lot about him but since Darrow and him are in the same family… Competition is tough.

I have so many favorite scenes in this book, all of them from the latter half of it. I’m just gonna enumerate them.

  1. I like that scene where Cassius and Darrow slithered into the Minervan castle and Darrow is just screaming the chef’s name. I was laughing so hard when Cassius looks confused and he just said “she’s a cook!” and Cassius laughed so hard!
  2. I also LOLed at Darrow’s and Pax’s fighting scene. Because Pax is always screaming his own name. 😂 There was a line there where Darrow said “And incase I’m an idiot, he roars his name at me” That was so funny xD
  3. I LOVEEEDDDD that scene where they conquered the Minervans. The horse thing is super duper smart! It’s like Troy with real dead horse. And the howl was just legendary! It’s like we know, he has plan but we don’t know what the plan is. That’s how it is with the rest of the book.
  4.  The takeover of Ceres’s was awesome too! The Demeter people had no idea what was happening!  And since it’s winter, all I can picture in my mind is Castle Black. I loved that scene where Darrow took lashings for Tactus because then he really earned the respect and loyalty of everyone. And I’m just like standing and clapping for my baby.
  5.  Oh I kinda laughed when the Primus of Apollo came. And Darrow was just stifling a laugh because everyone has to look pathetic but then they all tensed when he slapped Darrow. But we got what we wanted out of that.
  6. THAT APOLLO TAKE OVER WAS JUST. WORDS. DAMN. DARROW’S ON FIRE. The way that they trapped Apollo in that warp is awesome while Sevro is doing the dirty job. And when they came, BAM BAM BAM, ACTION KICKASS UGHH! I loved that scene, especially when he threw that thing to the sky and just shouted at the proctors. Like: COME AND GET ME MOTHERF*****!
  7. Of course, I loved it when he stabbed “Lucian”. He practically set the mood with grape juice! And he eased him up, making him think he was an idiot all the while he’s the one looking at him funny. He even brandished his ring collection and BAM! HE STABBED HIM 4 INCHES DEEP! And he was just like “Jackal, I am reaper. Nice to meet you.” And then kickass things follow like their takeover of Olympus, him killing Apollo. Just AMAZING.

I felt it that Mustang wouldn’t betray Darrow because we never saw a tinge of betrayal. Aside from that omission. He has nothing. They saved each other.

Now that Darrow is very high up in the society, I wonder how he’s gonna destroy it from the inside while dealing with the very embarrassed Jackal. Come on, dude. You got everyone helping you and you still lost? What a loser. And now that he’s technically an Augustus, he just made it Facebook official that he’s enemies with Cassius’ family.

I’m really really hyped on reading the 2nd book, I’ve heard only good things about it. We’ll see about that, I guess. But I’m really glad this book not only managed to get me out of my slump but to marathon a whole series.

I give this one 94/100. Not perfect but an A. I love love love love love it. It’s so good. I guess you just have to read it for yourself!

That’s it for Red Rising by Pierce Brown! Bye and Share the feels! 😀



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