Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Discussion: Red Queen vs. Red Rising

Every Sunday I find a bookish topic worth discussion.  If you have an idea for a discussion post, just leave a comment or email me at

So this week is a little tricksy.

As I'm writing this post, I finished Red Rising by Pierce Brown the night before, so it's really fresh in my mind.  I finished Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard in April.  I had seen so many reviews for Red Queen that were solely based on the synopsis that said the books were too similar and the person would not be reading it.  I was instantly intrigued.  So rather than doing an actual review of Red Rising (you can find my review of Red Queen here), I decided to post why I think people will still enjoy reading both books.

First I would like to post the info on both books.

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: January 28, 2014

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 10, 2015

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

See, the thing is I can see definite similarities in the synopses here.  I'm thinking someone was rather vague when writing one or both of these.  The problem is this: they are both dystopians.  I can draw similarities between all dystopians until I'm blue in the face.  These two just happen to be focused on the color red.

So I have made this here handy dandy table so we can compare and contrast certain elements of these books in a more efficient manner.

Red Rising
Red Queen
MC Gender
Love triangle?
More like a tetrahedron
MC Motivations
Vengeance/To create a rebellion
Book Subgenre
Science Fiction
Do those in charge know MC is red?
Is MC actually red?
Not really
Is MC a leader?
Does MC kill people?
I don’t think so?
Where is the story located?
What does being red mean?
Basically being a slave
Being in the majority
Do reds have special abilities?
Negative ghostrider
Is the MC caught at the end
Yes, but she escapes

I love making tables.  Of course, this doesn't really convey everything without all of the information.  Yes, Mare and Darrow both become spies for their respective rebellions.  But they are dystopian novels.  I expect a rebellion.  And I expect spies.  The plot of Red Rising in all honesty seemed much more similar to that of the Hunger Games (not that they are the same) because you have the houses of the institute enslaving each other or killing each other off.  

Yes, both books involve the color red.  But in Red Rising, red means the person is literally red.  Their hair, irises, etc.  They are the lowest of the low.  There are many colors.  And red is the pissant of them all.  Red Queen has just the two colors, red and silver.  Silvers literally bleed silver blood.  And they have special magical powers.  Yes, the golds in Red Rising have special "abilities", but that's really just because they're bred to be stronger.  Their abilities are all physical attributes that can be associated with genetics.

One of the things that I find particularly different between these two books (and I've noted it in my table above) is the MC motivations.  Darrow is enraged that is wife is murdered.  And so he seeks vengeance and justice.  He seeks to become a martyr even though he doesn't understand what it means.  When he fails, he seeks to start a full scale rebellion, just as his wife would have wanted.  Mare, on the other hand, wants her best friend to survive.  After a freak accident activates magic that was dormant in her blood and allows all of the Silver elite to see her perform magic, she is taken into custody and forced under threat of death to pretend to be Silver.  Forced by the Silvers.  She is only interested in the rebellion when she realizes her brother was one of them, but she has no interest in leading it.  She just wants to be some kind of informant because she hates the queen.

The stories between the two books I found to be dissimilar enough that both books should be enjoyable.  If you've read them both then you will see that yes, there are similarities.  But as I said, I expect that of all dystopians.  I could bring up how there was a failed rebellion in Brave New World as well, and the hero ended up hanging himself - a dystopian written in 1931.  There are some elements of this genre - oppressive government, death, rebellion, destruction - that will always be there no matter what.  It's just part of the genre.  So don't look at a synopsis and think, "Oh this is too similar to (insert book name here).  I already read that so I won't read this."

Personally, I enjoyed Red Rising more.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  I prefer a male perspective.  But it also lacked the weird love triangle.  But I still enjoyed Red Queen enough for what it was: a YA dystopian fantasy. 


  1. I haven't read Red Queen, yet, but I've read Red Rising (loved it! have you read the sequel yet, it's a thousand times better, if that's possible!) and just reading the synopsis of the back of Red Queen it didn't strike me that they were similar books. I was surprised when I was hearing that and curious if that was the case. Thanks for clearing it up! Also, I love your table :)

    1. No I haven't read the sequel yet! I'm so glad to hear it's even better. I plan to get it on my next book buying spree. And haha I love making little tables. Maybe I should use them on here more often :)

    2. Oh yes more tables! That would be wonderful :)