by Pierce Brown
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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 Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.
**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
They say a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. They made no mention of the heart.
Wow. This author. This author, guys. You know that feeling you get when you’ve been punched in the gut?? Yeah, well, me either-but, I’d like to think that this is what it feels like. It’s like the rug is being ripped out from underneath your feet, but instead of just falling down to your knees, underneath that rug was absolutely nothing, so you’re left flailing and grasping at air and are free-falling through space and time and nothing seems to matter. You feel weightless and your stomach dropped out the minute you were blind-sided, so you don’t know what to do or how to act and there’s zero you can do but embrace the clouds as your crazy descent lengthens and continues…all until the third book is released. In short? Pierce Brown….You are a genius.
Too late, you sons of bitches.
Too bloodydamn late.
I can’t think. I’m screaming inside. Laughing like the flames of a wildfire. Laughing because I know it is my madness that these logical warriors cannot fight.
What kind of wicked, wicked man ends a story like that? Seriously. It has been a long, long, long time since I have been shocked by an ending. More than that, it has been even longersince I was disturbed by an ending. What gets me most, though, is that I knew it was coming.
I bloodydamn knew Darrow and his crew were in for some wicked shit and then it’s just like…BAM. I simply thought I knew, but this??? This madness?? Cruel. Depraved. Heart-breaking. I had no idea the lengths to which this horrible…thing…would go, and I think that’s where this story really hit me upside the head. No matter how much Brown warns, no matter how much Brown foreshadows, no matter how many gruesome, grisly deaths he throws at us, I seem to always be at a loss for words in the end.
Were I still the man Eo knew, I would have stood frozen in horror. But that man is gone. I mourn his passing every day. Forgetting more and more of who I was, what dreams I held, what things I loved. The sadness now is numb. And I carry on despite the shadow it casts over me.
Brown is a master manipulator of story-telling-He twists and winds and twirls words on the page into an enigmatic puzzle that leaves you both breathless and disturbed…but it’s beautiful-if there ever was such a thing. It just…doesn’t seem like it should spring off the page like it does. It’s potent and raw and reeks of havoc and destruction-but it works. And, as sad as it is to say, I think this series is probably the most challenging series I’ve ever read. Let me explain: I don’t read (many) war books. I don’t read historicals (much) and I generally stick to YA. That’s not to say YA isn’t expertly written or without it’s more difficult works, but I like my light reading. The Golden Son is, believe it or not, YA. But much like Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy, this series is advanced. It is barbaric in it’s ways and it holds nothing back. It’s nothing for a best friend to have their neck cracked right beside our main character even as war wages on. So, to say this is advanced, to me, is an understatement. And not only is it the actions of our characters that makes this series stand out, it’s the manner of speak. It’s the words, phrasing, it’s the way they live. I love it, but more than once I found myself squinting at the page or scratching my head trying to figure out just what was going on. Whoops.
“Mother bid me to tell you: a pauper can never be a prince. Every time you look in the mirror, remember what we did to you. Remember you breathe because we let you. Remember your heart will one day be on our table. Rise so high, in mud you lie.”
And Darrow. Oh, how I love this flawed, rash character. I know a lot of people don’t necessarily care for Darrow, but, for me, he has always been such a fun character to follow. In book one, he lost his wife in an act of rebellion and was thrust into the deceptive world of the Golds (he was a lowly Red). He schemed, he fought, he won. But victory doesn’t come without a price. He made enemies. He watched as friends were butchered right in front of his face. He had to eliminate people he didn’t want to kill. But to pursue and embrace his wife’s hope for a better world, he had to make some tough decisions. Now he has infiltrated into a high-ranking Gold’s home and is a part of their society. With the support of his Gold house, he is protected from those who wish him harm. But, there is a heavy price on his head…and those who would soon rather rip out his heart than bear having him rule in any world. What would his wife think of him now?
This is exactly why I build my reputation as a killer, to leverage in situations like these. If they knew my heart, they’d kill my friends one by one. This is a gamble.
Darrow made mistakes. Again. He made even more enemies and was betrayed time and again…but I loved his inner monologue. He is so kind beneath his quest for vengeance. He wants so strongly to be able to trust his friends. To save them. To shelter them. He wants a better world for his Reds, but he has found home with many Golds. I adore his inner struggle and the need to do right by everyone, even when he can’t. Even when his back is against the wall. He declares war, but when it comes down to it, Darrow truly seeks peace. And this is the heart of the novel, to me: His inner struggle to do what is expected of him while fighting for what is right. He has become a monster, he is lost, but Mustang grounds him and she makes him a better man…and I am obsessed with watching it all unfold.
Part of me wishes I would only remember Eo. That my mind belonged to her, so I could be like one of those knights of legend. A man so in love with one lost that he closes his heart to all others. But I am not that legend. In so many ways, I’m still a boy, lost and afraid, seeking warmth and love. When I feel dirt, I honor Eo. And when I see fire, I remember the warmth and flicker of the flames across Mustang’s skin as we lay in our chamber of ice and snow.
Lies and betrayal, death and destruction, war and politics….the violence in this novel was astounding. It was grisly and cringe-worthy (though, hiding in a horse carcass in book one probably made me cringe more than anything in this one did…I still cringed, but…yack.) and not for everyone. When I read book one, I liked to imagine that many of my friends might have been able to expand their horizons and get on board with RR. But with GS, I know this isn’t for all my friends. It’s a distinct type of story that makes you think and ponder and merely hope for something good to happen. And, most of all, the romance is scarce. I personally loved the amount of romance in GS. I loved seeing how much Darrow truly cares for Mustang and how he has matured enough to know that while he loved Eo, she wasn’t perfect and she could be rash. And while he will always love her, always, he can seek love again. It has been three years and he still mourns her loss, but he can’t help falling for Mustang, the Gold who nursed him back to health at the Institute and the girl that stands by his side in the face of war. Two girls on different sides of the same token, he loves fiercely and with all his heart. I loved seeing his vulnerability unfold before my eyes.
Eo said people would always look to me. She believed I had some quality, some essence that gave hope. I rarely feel it in myself. There is none in me now. Just dread. Inside I feel such a boy-angry, petulant,selfish, guilty, sad, alone-and yet they look to me. I almost break underneath their gaze, almost wither away and ask someone else to take the reins. I can’t do it. I’m small. I’m just a liar in a carved body. But that dream must not be extinguished.
So I act and they watch.
I don’t lie. My stars may be fuzzy sometimes because I rate based on my love of the story and how it made me feel, but my reviews aren’t. They are clear and precise about what I like and I’ll spit the truth even if someone disagrees with it. Sticking with that statement, this series fluctuates as I read. It’s crazy!! Pierce Brown plays with my heartstrings up until the very last page and he doesn’t let me catch my breath for more than a tiny chapter or two. But no matter what, he always gets me on the last 40%!! No matter how wordy or political or calculating the beginning may be, the end is something to behold. The action is off the wall crazy. The peril is off the charts amazing. The angst could choke you with just a few words. I am a sucker for a few good fight scenes, and these were spectacular. No matter where the book went the whole time, it always circles back perfectly. All the lies, betrayals, deceptions, and death lead somewhere utterly pulse-pounding and you can see it coming a mile away and STILL be flummoxed. I have grown to love the guts and gore and power plays, and this author hands them to me on a beautiful silver platter. I need not pout because there wasn’t enough of whatever…because those last pages? They’ll take your breath away.
My breath rasps. My heart rattles against my sternum. I drink in my body’s terror and smile. They said this was suicide at the Academy when I wanted to launch myself. Maybe they were right.
But this is why I was made. To dive into hell.
So…obviously I loved it. And I loved it simply for this: Darrow is a good man in a world corrupt by power and deceit. He struggles with the truth throughout the entirety of the novel and wants nothing more than to trust and embrace his friends…will he pay a price for trusting the very people he grew up despising? Or will he pay a bigger price for not confiding in the pit vipers he has chosen to alliance himself with? Crude, brutal, and nothing held back, Pierce Brown knocked it out of the park with this one-crazy lingo and all.
OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG GUYS. GUYS SERIOUSLY. I never get approved for anything. Ever. Like….ever. PERIOD. And then THIS. I get approved for a book that I had no inkling or hope of ever getting approved for. ME. I got approved for the second RED RISING! ME.
EEEEP!! What is this life?!!!
See-not lying-I LOVED THE FIRST! –