Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy, # 2)
By: Pierce Brown
Published: January 6th 2015 by Del Rey
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.
Red Rising was such a surprising book for me. It took me a good 30% before I got hooked, but when I did I was hooked. I’ve got to recap where Red Rising left us a little bit before I can really start talking about Golden Son so if you haven’t read Red Rising then skip to the next paragraph. Ok…so Darrow’s wife Eo sacrificed herself in the beginning of Red Rising which really sparked Darrow’s passion for carrying out Eo’s dream—a world where people are not oppressed by their Color (the caste they’re born into…not their race). Darrow undergoes this supernatural surgery sponsored by a group called the Sons of Ares to “carve” him from a Red (the lowest caste) into a Gold (the highest caste). Darrow won the title of Primus at the Institute where Golds send their children to battle it out. The best and strongest survive. Only the very best wins. And Darrow didn’t just win. He beat the proctors also. At the Institute Darrow finds that his heart might just be big enough for Eo and another woman as well. Mustang. But Mustang’s father is the one who called for Eo’s hanging. And he’s at the top of the list for Darrow to bring down with his part in the revolution. Red Rising was a surprisingly emotional read for me. There’s so much sadness and anger in Darrow. And he goes through so much to try to see Eo’s dream into reality.
I actually put off picking up Golden Son for several months because of the heaviness of Red Rising. Even though it was a great book, it left me emotionally drained. So I needed to recover before picking up Golden Son, and I’m glad that I did. Golden Son picks up a couple of years after Red Rising but it really feels like hardly any time has passed. Darrow is at the Academy and I guess he’s really in his last test there when the book first begins. Very few of Darrow’s close friends are close by. Sevro and the Howlers are on Pluto. Mustang’s on Luna. Rogue and Tactus are still with him at the Academy, and they’ve picked up a new friend, Victra. Darrow’s single-minded focus on being the best Gold he can be in order to secure his position and ultimately bring down the Gold’s and Society has somewhat pushed his friends away. But it seems that ArchGovernor Augustus’s favor is tossed about by the wind like the waves of the sea. Even his children can’t secure his approval for long, and the same applies to Darrow.
Throughout Golden Son, Darrow has to again make some impossibly hard decisions. Who does he trust? With how much information? What alliances does he need in order to survive? Which alliances will ultimately cost him everything? How much reformation does he use to accomplish his purposes? And how much reformation is a red flag for those who are watching? And like with Red Rising, Darrow makes a lot of good choices. He’s smart. He can read people. And he thinks ahead. But he ultimately makes some of the wrong decisions too. He doesn’t let in some friends when he should and those relationships once damaged are extremely difficult to heal. There are many twists and turns throughout Golden Son as there were with Red Rising. And not all of the characters survive. It’s a dangerous game—war.
Also very similar to Red Rising, I highlighted up a storm. Pierce Brown has some great one-liners. He shows wisdom and a large understanding of the human condition in his lessons for Darrow and the other characters. His writing style was really good. Flowing and easy to read. Action packed. Twists and turns. Withholding just the right amount of information to keep the reader from getting annoyed with what they don’t know because the reader doesn’t even know that there’s information they don’t know. Very smart. And at one point, Pierce Brown describes what rain is like on a different planet and I thought it was very well thought out. Perhaps some of the best writing I’ve read this year all around.
-“It’s not victory that makes a man. It’s his defeats.”
-I don’t fault her. She chose politics, governance—peace, which is what she thinks her people need. I chose the blade, because it is what my people need.
-There is more than one path to the top.
-All petals wilt.
-“Everyone’s honest till they’re caught in a lie.”
-How cruel a life, that the sight of my dead wife means hope.
-“…’Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.’”
-“In a world of killers, it takes more to be kind than to be wicked.”
-Inside me, Red meets Gold.
-“Do you hate him so much?” “No. But my survival instinct is…enthusiastic.”
-Humans, no matter their Color, are fragile as doves in the meat grinder of war.
-“My heart does not make my brain a fool.”
-This is about freedom. Yet it seems like everyone just wants to follow.
-“Perception, deception, media!”
-“If I can’t trust her, Gold can’t change.”
-“I would know you…anywhere.”
While there is potential and hope of romance, it is not what drives this story. I wish there were a bit more of that if I could change anything. But I still hold out hope that I’ll be satisfied in the end. Speaking of…have you ever been reading a book and about halfway or more through you think “I’m so proud of this character for not…” and then before the book is over they go and do the very thing you were proud of them for not doing (or vice versa)? Well that happened to me. I was really proud of Darrow for one thing in particular and then sure enough before the book was over he went and let me down a little. I hope it won’t count against him too much in the end, but I was a little disappointed.
This book (and this series so far) is packed. So much happens within each book. It’s almost hard to absorb it all. Everything that Darrow faces and the decisions he has to make. Lives are at stake either way. Some things happen that I knew were going to have to happen since the beginning. Some things were complete surprises. There are layers within layers within layers of plot. And the emotions behind it all are real and strong and powerful. Red Rising and Golden Son have easily been two of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Morning Star. Golden Son ended in quite a cliffhanger so that makes the wait even more difficult. The description above compares this series to a combination of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, and while I probably never would have thought to put those three together to describe this book, I think that’s an accurate description. Golden Son easily gets 4.5 Stars. I just hope that I’m not completely let down with the end of the series. Have you read Golden Son? What did you think? Let me know!
This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.