Title: Golden Son (Red Rising, #2)
Author: Pierce Brown
Published: January 2015
I would recommend reading further only if you have already read Red Rising (Red Rising, #1).
Summary: Darrow made it out of the Institute alive, but the games never really end. Now he must navigate as a Gold living in a Gold world, seeking favor with those he hates most and grappling with living a lie. He continues to seek out justice for his people and to break the chains, so as he continues to grow as a leader and gains the ear of powerful people he finds opportunity to disrupt the peace in the universe with an eye on making room for a revolution.
Thoughts: It took me a bit of time to get into this installment, but once the action began I was hooked. This book makes me understand why people not only compare this series to Hunger Games, but also to Game of Thrones. Similar to George R. R. Martin, Pierce Brown didn’t really care if you were attached to a character or not, he might just need them to die. No one is safe and anything is possible with the cunning of a Gold. There were so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. While in another world it might seem unlikely that his band of rebels would out-maneuver and out-smart Gold rulers, in this world you understand that Golds are something stronger, smarter, and more capable than regular humans. So when they are coming up with elaborate schemes and tricking their enemies, I am pumped about it, not rolling my eyes thinking it’s implausible. Pierce Brown has created this lush world making so much of this action-packed story believable within the context of what he has built.
This book isn’t just action sequences, if it were I probably would lose interest. The action is exciting, but it’s compounded by the fact that characters you have grown to love are at risk for their lives and also on the cusp of great triumphs. There is a very compelling human element to this story and to this series. Characters become beloved to you the reader just as they do to Darrow. Despite how real Darrow’s friendships are with his group, he’s not quite sure they would be as loyal to him if they really knew who he was. So although he is building, in some ways, this great life full of meaningful relationships, he is extremely conflicted because he is not able to live his true, authentic life with them. He also starts to see that just because his friends have been loyal to him, doesn’t mean they will always be. He learns a lot about how to lead and keep people bought into your cause–the mere fact that it takes maintenance is news to him and leads him into some very vulnerable situations. The ending of this book is epic and sets up the third book nicely. I am glad I am not reading these books as they are being published so I do not have to wait to pick up the third book!