Published January 2015
Red Rising #2
I have put off writing this review for too long. What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said about this book before? Also, I think I was intimidated by how much I enjoyed the book. I didn’t want to write an incoherent review where I flailed and fangirled and ranted. I wanted this to be concise and well thought out, but for some reason the words would not come. After being read for two weeks, I decided I needed to stop procrastinating and just push forward. So here we go. Pushing forward.
“For seven hundred years, my people have been enslaved without voice, without hope. Now I am their sword. And I do not forgive. I do not forget. So let him lead me onto his shuttle. Let him think he owns me. Let him welcome me into his house, so I might burn it down.”
Second book syndrome is supposedly a thing. The dreaded situation where, especially in trilogies, the second book in a series acts as more of a plot builder and character developer for the upcoming finale, rather than being a strong independent book able to stand on its own. While I have no doubts Morning Star will blow me away when I get to it, I can tell you right now: Golden Son does not suffer from any syndrome other than kick ass syndrome. (Not sure if that is a real thing, but I am rolling with it.)
Golden Son hits the ground running. Or flying. Or whatever high intensity action you perform in deep space. There is no build up, there is no slow burn plot development, there is only non stop action.
As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.
A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.
He must live for more.
I am not sure if this series can be classified as YA. Is it? I was under the impression when I first started reading that it was. But as I get further into the trilogy, I think that labeling it young is not really fair at all. There is a lot of death. There is a lot of politics, manipulation, gore, and twists that I think are more mature. The back of the dust jackets for this series compares it to Game of Thrones, and it wasn’t until after I finished Golden Son that I was able to really see this analogy as accurate. I was on the edge of my seat the entire book. I was legitimately afraid that my favorite characters were going to die, whether they are main ones or not – Pierce Brown doesn’t care.
In regards to characters, Brown may have no qualms about killing off either main or secondary ones, but he does a fantastic job of replacing them. Someone dies, you mourn briefly of course, but then you find yourself being manipulated once again by all the other new and interesting people popping up all the time. There is a wonderful balance of good versus bad here, although I felt half the time that I didn’t know whose side I was on. Is Darrow a Red, or is he a Gold? He plays such a good role of Gold, that at times I found myself forgetting he was ever a Red. Pierce Brown twists and turns the story so many times that he had to randomly remind the reader what the overall plot of the story is: break the chains.
“We are not our station in life. We are us – the sum of what we’ve done, what we want to do, and the people who we keep close.”
Darrow is such an interesting character. One of the more conflicted and torn characters I can remember reading about. In the time period between Red Rising and Golden Son, he has moved up in the golden ranks, a full contributing member to the society that he has sworn to destroy. But that is only how the story starts. Unlike in Red Rising, Darrow is brought to his knees over and over again in this book. Brown shows us that he is not a God. That he is not invincible, and most importantly, that he is the sum of the people around him.
And the people that surround Darrow make this story so good, so addicting. The genius of Mustang (I will never hide or shy away from my love for Mustang, sorry), the strength of Ragnar, the darkness and wildness of Sevro (who I really believe is the Yin to Darrow’s Yang), the tension and beauty or Roque, the fierceness of Victra, and the loyalty that all of these people feel towards Darrow. Brown plays my heart like a fiddle. He pulls and manipulates and crushes without mercy. These characters are so fascinating and amazing that I would be content reading stories just about them, but alas, a deeper plot drives us forward.
“I will die. You will die. We will all die and the universe will carry on without care. All that we have is that shout into the wind – how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall.”
This whole concept is so brutal and raw. I found myself wondering how Brown intends to end this story. Obviously I am not talking about what the end game is, but how we are going to get there. Darrow faces such a daunting task, and there were several parts of the book where I forgot that he is not alone. But his narration throughout is perfect. I find myself both fascinated by first person narratives, especially since I used to be so repulsed by them. I am not sure exactly what my prejudice against them is/was, but I know that when I delved into Darrow’s world, I wanted him to tell me the story.
His tone is set by the actions taking place around him. Action scenes are quick, short sentences that lose all flowery descriptions of feelings, but focus more on direct action unfolding around our protagonist. Since there is so much action that takes place throughout this book, I thought that this style of writing was perfect, it kept me in sync with Darrow, as well as on the edge of my seat.
“It’s not victory that makes a man. It’s his defeats.”
Well, let’s hope this is true because Golden Son ends with a hell of a defeat for our main man, Darrow. I was so relieved that I had the foresight to have Morning Star already on my night stand once I closed the book on Golden Son. If I would have had to wait for Morning Star to come out, I am not sure what I would have done. This picture really says it all: