Once upon a time I acquired an advance reading copy of a book called Red Rising by Pierce Brown. As is the case with most of the ARCs I get, I had no idea what the book was about. There is no summary on the back of the book. I get a lot of ARCs. I don’t have time to read all of them, but something about this book called to me, so I gave it a shot. And thus began the pain that anyone who gets advance anything knows all too well — having to wait until it’s officially released to be able to talk about it. Because you see, I read Red Rising in July 2013, and it wasn’t published until the following January. That said, now both Red Rising and its sequel Golden Son are available, and you should all read both, because they’re fantastic. And then we can talk about it! Please?
Okay, I lied. This series is not going to be for everyone. It’s violent and dark, and there were some parts I had to skim because reading them made me nauseated, but it’s so well-written and enthralling that I couldn’t put it down. The characters are all complex, with hidden depths and motivations you would not expect. Darrow (the titular Red, and then the titular Gold because that’s how things work) is a complicated individual, driven initially (and always) by vengeance, yet starting to befriend the very people he intends to bring down.
I am well aware that people are probably tired of dystopian literature. The market is saturated with them. Still, there is something compelling about the world Brown created. It’s as fascinating as it is frustrating. This is a world where Darrow is a slave but doesn’t know it, a world where the lowest caste of society (the lowReds) has been lied to for centuries. After a brutal wake-up call, Darrow is recruited by the rebellion and offered a dangerous role – infiltrate the Golds, the crème de la crème of Mars society, and bring it down from the inside.
Over the course of the next two books, Darrow just does that. He is quite literally unmade, stripped down bit by bit and rebuilt into a better, stronger version of himself, before being enrolled in the Institute. The Institute is not a civil university, but a massive game of Capture the Flag on steroids where he must prove his worth in a rigged system. He must make allies out of enemies and fight those he once called friends. In Golden society, there is no such thing as loyalty. Trust only leaves you vulnerable, and power is the only thing that matters.
I actually meant to do a review of Golden Son weeks ago, but it took me so long to process what I had just read that I figured I would just wait and do a recommendation post. The final book in the trilogy, Morning Star, does not come out until next year, and that is far too long to wait. No, seriously. If you need me, I will be sobbing quietly in a corner as I await the next installment. In fact, I would not fault anyone who held out for the last book before reading the series. Part of me wishes I had done that, while part of me is giddy about having gotten into this on the ground floor. Usually I’m several years late to these types of things.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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