BY PIERCE BROWN
Young Adult: probably better for the older YA crowd.
Series: Book 2 in the Red Rising trilogy by author Pierce Brown (who is a cutie patootie and I totally picked up the first book due to that fact and I’m so glad I did.)
Contains: DEATH. sex. cursing (and made up curse words, which I approve of) War. Death, I said that, right? Political machinations like WOAH.
“There is no greater plague to an introvert than the extrovert.”
Similar to: Hunger Games and The Lord of the Flies
Review by SuddenButInevitable
Wherein I continue my tradition of reviewing a series where I read the first book some time ago and kind of forgot what happened then forge ahead to the second book anyway…and then write the review on the second book.
You should totally read the first book, Red Rising because it’s a great book. Reminds me of The Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies (a timeless book…. one that you’ll probably read in English class at some point in your schooling. So much fun, you should read that book too) So. I’ll wait while you read the first book. Go on, shoo. This review will still be here when you’re done. Wait, before you go. One more thing. You know how there’s some books that you want to read the last page of? You can totally do that with Red Rising. Because it will make almost no sense. But don’t do it with Golden Son. You will ruin the ending and the twist. Even if you think you’ve figured the twist out. Don’t do it. I did, and I’m so, so sorry. I stopped reading the book like 15 pages from the end because I read the last page and I got burned. Badly. And then of course I finished it the next day. Because I’m a completionist.
Spoilers abound. I’ll try and keep them under control for the second book.
Why both of these books remind me of The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies? HG because both books feature a fractured society where one group has all the power and the rest of society lives in poverty. Each part of society has role to play. District 1 is the Socialites in HG, in Golden Son, they are the Golds – the rulers, the uber rich posh snobby people. Who for fame and leadership send their best and brightest children to duke it out on Mars a la Lord of the Flies where there’s no help from the adults and the children are split in groups and then try and take over the other groups in an “I’m king of the mountain!” sort of way.
Every person is born into a color. You cannot move colors. If you are born at the highest rank, you die there. Golds rule, Silvers are businessmen, Blues are tech geeks, Obsidian soldiers, Yellow healers…. and several other colors/jobs, until you get down to the lowest of the low – the Reds – unskilled manual labor. They’re basically District 13. Darrow, was born a Red, but through highly illegal and dangerous surgical alterations is now a Gold. Darrow, our protagonist (is male! I’m so strangely pleased by this, so few books have male leads now a days … yes, Harry Potter, I know…) is a virtual mastermind of strategy and a natural born leader. He inspires trust in those around him and because he wasn’t born a Gold, he thinks about things differently and is ultimately able to make friends instead of slaves. All the while keeping the fact that he’s secretly a Red from ALL of his friends. Friendships built on a lie? A little tip: they never work out.
Not so many spoilers for the second book because it’s really hard to explain because I’m bad at explaining politics. It’s political in a way that Hunger Games is not. There’s an antagonist Octavia au Lune (sigh, my My Little Pony fandom has ruined me for the name Octavia, because now I just see the pony every time I read the name) who is keeping Society stagnant. She’s perfectly happy to have the Gold families bicker amongst themselves and have blood feuds so long as she stays in power. Darrow was made to subvert Octavia’s rule and break society. Who are the Golds to say what is best for everyone else and the society as a whole?
There are battles in this book, they’re basically starting a civil war and the battles are explained beautifully. Characters die. *sigh* It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try. Darrow leads his friends and their allies against Octavia but Darrow consistently pushes his friends away because he knows that if they found out he was Red, it would ruin everything. Friendships are built and broken, and there’s lots of different tech that’s a little hard to muddle through. The world building is fantastic. The characters are three dimensional. Characters are both evil and good. There’s a handy chart for the different colors in case you get confused, there’s even a Dramatis Personae which tells you who the families and characters and allies are. There’s breaking of tradition. There is somewhat of a love triangle. Darrow was married as a Red and that’s a lot of his motivation for becoming a Gold. Slowly but surely the book is winding towards a “it doesn’t matter where you come from, or what color you were born” mentality. And I think OUR world is ready for that. Yes, as all good Science Fiction does, it always parallels what’s happening in the world right now.
I’m so ready for the third book, Morning Star. I think it’s going to be fantastic.