You guys have probably noticed that I have been in a re-reading spell lately. Well, getting ready for the last of the series I decided to re-read the first two. It was a good move, I had forgotten so many aspects of this story. Also, I’m going to try something a little new with this post. Below is the original post back from March of 2015, my new impressions will be bolded.
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.
I didn’t really get into this till the second part of the story. And I didn’t like Eo at all, honestly I didn’t really like Darrow either until we see him entering the world of the Golds. I didn’t hate Eo as much as I did in the first read, Brown lays out all the reasons we need her in the beginning and she remains a driving force for Darrow throughout. I understood that more this round and wasn’t as angsty about when he references her later down the line. A lot of time passes in the story (about 1.5/2 years) and that really works to show Darrow’s growth and progression, and it’s really interesting! I also loved the juxtaposition between he and Titus. Darrow bases people on merit, not on general consensus, and that’s what makes him such a strong leader. There is also a great cast of supporting characters, all who encourage or push Darrow in different ways, and ultimately play major roles in developing the man he grows into.
I also really like the relationship between Mustang and Darrow. She has similarities to Eo, is complex given her Gold status, and she balances the fire of Darrow. I also like the slow evolution of their relationship, though I didn’t love Eo, I appreciate that Darrow doesn’t just forget her. It’s been a long time since she left, and he’s fighting his growing feelings for Mustang with guilt over Eo, but it’s realistic and I think when they do happen they’ll be fantastic, they already make great battle buddies.
The book surprised me, and its one of those YA books that I don’t see as YA, beyond the age of the protagonist (like The Bone Season, or even The Book Theif) it’s attacking some really big social questions, its graphic and candid, and doesn’t shy away from the darkness/corruption of people and society.
A lot of the negative reviews I read had a problem with Darrow. I admit it took me a bit to get attached to him, but he’s fantastic! He’s flawed, but many don’t seem to see that, and look at him like a self-righteous golden boy (pun kind of intended), but he’s not! He’s constantly in conflict with himself over his personal want for vengeance and what’s for the greater good, and he’s a decent enough guy, that most of the time he sides on what’s best for the masses. He goes through a learning curve, we see that, and he’s constantly trying to make amends and prove to himself that he’s capable of leading.
Basically, this book blew me away, the praise for Brown is definitely merited; his prose is unique – though with my second read through I was less imprerssed with the writing. There are large segments of info dumps and times when I’m bogged down with physical descriptions. However, his dialogue is very well done and there is clear sense of Darrow’s voice in his word choice and sentence lengths and placement. – his characters rich and complex, his world amazing in its vastness, and his protagonist is so great. I love how Darrow is strong and sensitive at the same time, and he’s always learning from his friends to become a better version of himself. It’s just great!
Bring on Golden Son!!