Monday, January 7, 2019

Golden Son - Pierce Brown

HEY!! We're back!  I hope you had a great Christmas, New Years, winter break, etc.  I know I enjoyed the downtime.  

Golden Son is the second book in the Red Rising series. If you haven't yet read the first book book, we highly recommend you read our review here.

Summary:  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 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.  (Summary from book - Image from Amazon.com)

My Review:  Woah.  I just finished Golden Son a few minutes ago and I feel as if I need to sit here, catch my breath, and maybe look in a mirror to see if my hair looks wind blown.  I also feel an intense need to get some thoughts down on paper, however informal they may come across.  Holy crap what a ride.  I read the first half of this burst in fits and spurts as I tried to ready my home and family for the Christmas holidays.  I read the last half with white-knuckled dedication.  Like it or not, I've become invested in Darrow and his crazy companions.  I might not always like what they do or the reasons they do it, but just now they feel a bit like family.  You put up with them because you care.

Golden Son takes place several years after the events of Red Rising, and finds Darrow in a position of relative power, biding his time and waiting for Ares, the leader of the rebellion to make contact.  When Darrow is tasked with a horrifying act of destruction, he must decide what kind of man he is and how far he is willing to go for the sake of the mission.  At first, Darrow is still loyal to the cause, playing the loyal Gold while scrapping and plotting to bring freedom to the lowColors and destroy their masters.  However, as the story unfolds a new Darrow emerges -- one who recognizes the true value of those who fight alongside him and begins to realize there might something more and another, better, way to live.  I found I liked this new Darrow even more than the old one.  The old one was pretty much a rock star, but new Darrow showed more vulnerability, compassion, willingness to trust, and wisdom than you might expect from a battled-hardened warrior.  It rounded out his character nicely.  As for the other characters, some major players return and new ones emerge but not all survive.  Many of the deaths came as a surprise and I mourned each loss, however necessary for the story.

Where the first book in this series had a Hunger Games vibe, Golden Son definitely had more of an Ender's Game feel, due in large part to much of it being set in space and a variety of planets and moons.  I enjoyed the change in scenery from the first book and the widened scope of the story.  I also believe Game of Thrones fans would feel right at home in this storyline.  To be clear, I've never actually watched GOT, but from what little I hear there is enough subterfuge, back-stabbing, power grabbing, and general mayhem to go around.  (No dragons, though, but there is a griffin.)

As with the first book in this series, success doesn't always come easy for Darrow.  He has his fair share of victories (minor and major) but he also suffers some fairly devastating setbacks, both personally and for the cause.  As hard as it was to board that particular emotional roller coaster, it made the story feel more believable and the struggle more intense.  And boy was it.  Intense, I mean.  Golden Son had more battles, betrayal, intrigue, and surprises, than I ever expected, enough romance to keep things interesting and more moments of Whaaaaaaaaaat, NO WAY?!?! than I would have though possible in one book.  I'm fairly certain I held my breath for much of the latter half, up until the ending, where the author knocked the win right out of me.  (To be read in the voice of your mother) Pierce Brown....that little hanger of cliffs was just plain mean!  As such, I plan to start the third book, Morning Star, in short order, as soon as I manage to get my hands on it.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars.  (Honestly, I'd love to give this book 5 Stars, if it weren't for the things outlined in the sensitive readers section)

For the sensitive reader:  If you are bothered by scenes of intense violence (lots of stabbings, decapitation, limb and eyeball removal), some PG-13 language and innuendo, and one brief, fairly vague sexual encounter, then I'd probably look elsewhere for your book fix.

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