by Pierce Brown
Read: December 26 - 30, 2014
Published: January 6, 2015 by Del Rey - TOMORROW!
Source: NetGalley (THANK YOU, Random House!)
Category: Dystopian, sci-fi, war games, space, Adult, YA crossover
Series: Red Rising Trilogy #2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
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 Songuarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.
Golden Son is the very anticipated sequel to Pierce Brown's debut Red Rising (click the title for my 5 point review), and it is an even grander experience than the first. I also enjoyed it even more, which doesn't happen nearly enough for a second-in-a-series book. Where I've seen Red Rising labeled as both Young Adult and Dystopian, Golden Son read as more Science Fiction and Adult to me. Although I don't think this matters much unless you like categorizing things, it speaks to how dynamic this series is. As Darrow has grown up - he's now four years older than he was at the start of the first book - the story has also increased in scope and scale. No matter the genre, you definitely don't want to miss the epic space battles à la Star Wars, or maybe, Guardians of The Galaxy (I just saw that movie for the first time, btw).
Golden Son is power packed with intensity. It is full of big scenes that feature an incredibly high level of energy: large scale battles that can no longer be considered games - if they ever could be, political schemes that affect the entire society, and huge revelations always made at the most intense moments. Even the deceptions and heartbreak occur on a grander scale. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire journey. Darrow is constantly surprising the reader and everyone else with his plans that tend to explode in ways that are bigger than anyone imagined. The danger and consequences have also multiplied in degrees relative to everything else. No longer just set on Mars, the world building continues to be rich and complex, as Darrow explores deep space and other planets. There are also even more characters, and remembering everyone's relationship and allegiance* requires a mental energy of its own. Especially, as allegiances are know to change.
Even though I enjoyed all of the larger than life aspects of this book, I fell in love with Golden Son because of its more introspective and quieter moments. As Darrow continues to ingratiate himself into Gold society and is outwardly seen more and more as a dangerous god, internally he his still a Red boy who has faced overwhelming personal tragedy. Although he is very confident in his strengths, there are moments in this book when Darrow is weighed down by loneliness and grief, as well as guilt and confusion about his purpose and how he must accomplish it. These are the times when my connection to Darrow was strongest: when I was able to see his humanity behind the golden mask.
Darrow continues to maintain his internal connection to Eo, his wife whose tragic death began his incredible journey. I love the way that Darrow sees Eo as his muse and moral compass. She is constantly in his thoughts as an inspiration and the reason he's striving for more. But even Eo is taken off her pedestal and humanized again in this story. Reminding the reader that she was a whole person, and not just an idealized image. But Darrow is a living man who needs the support of others to succeed but also to thrive. As we've seen from Darrow's journey though Red Rising, there are Golds that he cares about - maybe even loves, but can he confide in any of them? Trust is a major theme in this story, and Darrow struggles with how much of a role (if any) friendships can and should play into his life.
Romance is not the central focus of this story, although love is a driving force for Darrow. His complicated relationship with Mustang is an illustration of his struggle to navigate the dichotomy between his past and future. Darrow and Mustang work together amazingly well and are so well matched and in sync at times. They also seem to be able to hurt each other to as great a degree. Mustang can sense the fact that part of Darrow has always been closed off to her, and Darrow doesn't know if he could ever cross that barrier. I don't know where their relationship will go in the future, but I'm rooting for them.
Of course, Golden Son is another favorite early 2015 read that features a screaming cliffhanger. I am now desperate for the sequel. You must all read this book so we can be in this place together.
Love Triangle Factor: None. But not without its complications.
Cliffhanger Scale: HIGH.
*Author Pierce Brown has said a characters and Colors list will be in the Golden Son hardback.