This review is spoiler-free for the entire series.
Synopsis of Red Rising
” 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. “
First of all, I have to tell that my initial reaction to this book was :
Oh no, don’t do this to me Pierce Brown. No.
No no no no no.
Where is Morning Star ?!”
Now that you know this, let me try to order my thoughts 😉
The first book was great, it was a 5 stars read for me and I loved it. However it was much more focused on the different tests Darrow had to figure at the Institute than the actual fighting against the Society. In this, Golden Son was exactly how I imagined the first book to be, however it was also so much more. This book is crazy and full of twists and turns at every chapters.
Between reading Red Rising and Golden Son, I managed to forget how much I loved Pierce Brown’s writing style. I don’t really know how to describe it but it really gets me. At the end of part I, I had to close the book to do something else otherwise I was going to have a panic attack. I don’t usually suffer from anxiety while reading but, oh man, some passages were so stressful that I had to close the book several times.
I know that some people struggle with Brown’s writing style and that they don’t manage to connect with the main character, Darrow. In a way I can see why because even if he follows the trope of “the chosen one”, I never encountered a character quite like him before. He is not perfect and sometimes the fact that he wants to overprotect his friends by keeping them in the dark creates the illusion that he is a very detached character even if it’s not really the case.
“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.”
In term of worldbuilding and character development, this book was perfect. At the beginning, I was a bit lost because I did not remember who was who but after a couple of chapters, it was all clear ! Also, I think that the author did a great job at making us understand why some characters are the way they are. At several moments, I find myself empathising with the Jackal and Augustus which I never believed would happen after book 1. Another example of that is the moment we learn that (tiny tiny spoiler here) Tactus did not sell the violin and that he planned to play it for Darrow. I am not ashamed to say that I had tears in my eyes at this moment.
“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.”
I think that at this point, it is pretty obvious that I adored this book. The ending was spectacular. Did not see it coming this way at all.
If you want a SF/dystopian equivalent of Game of Thrones in terms of emotions and twists and turns, pleaso do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Red Rising !