As with my revisit of Red Rising earlier this week, I’m taking my original review of Golden Son from last year and adding my new impressions in bold.
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.
War, spies, rebellion, double-crossing, betrayal, revelations, and top notch relationships. This book had it all and it was such a great expansion of the first chapter of the story. I also noticed a marked improvement on Brown’s writing. There was less big info dumps, it wasn’t as sticky in places, and in general you can see how he’s growing as a writer, which I always love to see.
The beginning was a bit painful (self-doubt, vengeance, loss of pride), and Eo is back with a bigger presence than I was expecting, but as I continue my re-reading experience I am growing to understand his reliance on her to continue his fight for her dream. However, it is also becoming more evident that Darrow has developed his own need for change, and that his Gold friends – especially Mustang and Sevro – are adding greater fuel to Eo’s flame and even improving Darrow’s overall goal of reformation.
The secondary characters only become more developed in this, I love Sevro (even though he’s so demented), Mustang is still my favorite (she’s so strong and decisive while still being feminine), Pax’s family is amazing, Victra is really interesting, Roque and Tactus threw me a bunch of surprises, Jackal is just beyond understanding, and Cassius never fails to show just how weak he is. The depth and color these characters add I think is a great testament to Brown’s writing. I feel like it’s a pretty rare thing to have so many different and complex characters beyond the protagonist in a “YA” book (or any book really) while still being a close-knit and focused community.
The twists and depths of the political and social alliances are fascinating. You never know who’s going to turn next or what Darrows next move will be. Especially with the final twist of the book. One of the “bad guys” is gone, but his replacement has no moral limits in what he will do and I think is the most dangerous of all the villains in this story. I have no idea how Darrow is going to get out of the pickle he’s in, but I hope Sevro and Mustang are going to be the ones to get him out of it.
And I have to add a comment about the books Ship. I really hope there is a happy ending for Darrow and Mustang. First, they are just great together, and he doesn’t deserve to lose both of his loves. Second, their relationship would be a physical indicator of the wrongs of the Society and how it can be overcome. I have faith in them, and Mustang, but I’m sure she needs some time to process everything – his was a pretty big secret. I am still devoted to these two, but I also really respect the fact that this is such a background element to the story. There is so much going on that I think if it was more romance focused we would loose a lot of love for the stories. Brown does a great job at adding just enough one-on-one scenes between the two, and just enough internal dialogue on Darrow’s part to show his depth of care for this amazingly fierce woman. Mustang is also my favorite character after Darrow so I will always route for her no matter what.
Now lets dive into Morning Star and hope that not all of my favorite characters die!