I’d heard a lot about Red Rising on my social channels, especially on my TikTok where my algorithm has quickly ventured towards people giving me their best fantasy reads of 2023.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase any products via the links below, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These affiliate links do not affect my final opinion of the product.
It’s received a lot of fans, with a strong note that the sequel Golden Son takes the series to a whole new level, so even if you weren’t the biggest fan of Red Rising, you should definitely keep reading. Well, I was a huge fan of Red Rising – in fact, I tried jumping into another book straight after finishing it and genuinely felt like I was still in the world that Pierce Brown had created and wanted to stay there.
Red Rising focuses on the story of Darrow and his attempt to rise from the bottom of a dystopian society to the very top in order to save his “reds” from a life of poverty and lesser living which benefits the higher society. It’s a story that likely won’t surprise anybody in its premise, however its execution is much more impressive.
Red Rising plot – 4.25/5
Red Rising‘s plot absolutely fascinated me. The two big things that stood out to me about Pierce Brown’s style is that he’s not afraid to kill off big characters and he’s also not afraid to just jump big spaces of time that would otherwise be taken up with lesser interesting dialogue or moments of mild action. There are times where he literally spans days or weeks of action in a couple of sentences because he wants to get onto the more interesting moments.
At times, this does feel a little like he’s speeding through the book, but then when you realise this book is only about 400 pages long, you’re thankful as this could very easily have been 600/700+ pages if he’d included as much in those moments as he has in others.
The plot interest levels wane – it starts off brilliantly with a great opening few chapters and some exciting moments that I found myself absolutely hooked by, then there are slow lesser interesting moments in the middle and then the last fifth of the book or so is absolutely brilliant and will leave you desperately wanting more.
Red Rising characters – 4.5/5
From the outset, Pierce Brown forces you to give a damn about the people you’re reading about. If you look on certain websites, Red Rising is even referred to as a Sci-Fi Romance which is a genre I’d not considered before. However, looking back, I can see where this may have come from. There’s a strong connection throughout the book that drives our main character Darrow which Brown does a brilliant job of making you genuinely care for rather than just cheaply tacking it on.
With this element, plus Brown’s ability to write genuinely decent dialogue, made these all characters that not only do you end up caring for, but that you could envision actually speaking with each other in your head. I hear in the second, his dialogue games levels up even further, so I’m looking forward to that.
Red Rising final rating – 4.25/5
I’ve rated Red Rising a 4.25 instead of anything higher because I feel like it’s only just scratching the surface of what Brown has to offer here. Brown has written an explosive science fiction novel here filled with an exciting plot, a building world and some genuinely interesting characters. There’s something to be said that after finishing this, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and instantly wanted to read the sequel. If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, Red Rising should shoot to the top of your list.