Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Synopsis:
Darrow is a Red, making him the lowest member of a colored caste system. After discovering that he and his people have been lied to for generations, he sets out to claim what he believes his people are owed.

To do this, Darrow sacrifices everything to put himself in a place where he can take what belongs to him. However, sacrificing everything means he also has to figure out who he is now that he’s chosen a different life, one that might get him killed.

Rating:

Date Read: Aug 19, 2017

Thoughts:
I’m kind of wary about reviewing this trilogy since I know that there is a group of people who really love the books, but to be completely honest, I don’t get it. I initially rated this book 4/5 stars, but had to change it to its current 3/5 stars because I just didn’t really enjoy the book all that much.

I started off by reading the physical copy, bringing it with me while I dog-sat for some friends (yes, the same ones I mentioned in my review of Vicious). It was so hard for me to get into the physical book, and I found myself reading it super slowly. The pacing was slow, the characters felt confusing, and I just wasn’t able to get into the book like I thought I would. So, I decided that the next best thing would be to switch to the audiobook and see if that made things better. It didn’t really change things.

The first problem I encountered was the MASSIVE cast of characters. Around the middle of the book, I’m pretty sure we have about 15 different characters that we hear about consistently, but I had a very hard time keeping track of most of them. Often, I got them mixed up or forgot about them entirely. And it started once Darrow made his sacrifice. We get thrown into a world where there are too many people to keep track of, and in listening to the audiobook, I found it so hard to remember who was who. It led me to refer to the physical book when I had the chance, just to keep track of the people on the page.

Pacing is another issue that I had with the story. We get a decent pace going at the beginning, but toward the middle, I felt like we were just dragging our feet through the story. There’s a huge portion of the book that gave me a Hunger-Games-arena-style vibe, and I wasn’t a fan of it. Perhaps if I had been reading the physical book, it would’ve made more sense, but I just didn’t get it. The part of the book dragged from about 1/3 in, all the way to the end. I felt like it was moving too slowly and taking far too long.

For the most part, I rather enjoyed the story, as I felt like it was pretty interesting. There were definitely moments in which I thought that the story could’ve been executed differently, or where the pacing made me stumble, but I didn’t have many issues with the story itself.

And here’s where we get to the part that is hardest to talk about. Since this is a sci-fi book, a fairly heavy one at that, there should be a good amount of explanation as to what everything is and what’s going on. We don’t really get that in the book. Sure, we get some explanation here and there, but mostly, we’re having to figure it out for ourselves and the story progresses. Anything that we’re confused about – usually the colored caste system and what each color means – has little explanation when introduced, only for us to finally find out what the colors mean at a later point, once we’ve applied our own understandings. This frustrated me a lot as I rarely felt like I understood the world that I was in.

Along those lines, I also had a hard time connecting with most of the characters. Darrow, for being a main character, I found to be thoroughly unlikeable and flat. After talking to my sister, I found that several people had this problem too. Apparently, it’s common for most readers to think of one of the side characters as their favorite, rather than Darrow.
Being unable to connect to most of the characters, it also affected my experience in reading/listening to the book. I didn’t understand why I needed to care about most of them, and I just wanted to keep going to see if my opinions would change.

Something worth mentioning is that if you listen to the audiobook from Audible, the narrator does a fantastic job. He has all the right inflections for the characters, and honestly, he was most of the reason why I continued with the trilogy.

Character(s):
There are so many. Here’s a quick breakdown: I don’t like Darrow, Sevro is my favorite, I have mixed feelings about Cassius, the Jackel weirds me out, and Mustang leaves me feeling very eh.

Overall:
3 stars. This is a very acquired-taste kind of trilogy, so I wouldn’t really recommend it. Just based off my own reading experience, I wouldn’t say that I expect many people I know to enjoy this book.

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