I’m going to just jump right into the reviews here. And there is no better place to begin than the RED RISING trilogy, containing the books Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star, all by Pierce Brown.
Let me start by saying: this will be a non-spoiler review. My goal is to get you to read the books (or at least consider them), not to take the fun out of them. Also, I just need a space to discuss, because I don’t know anyone else who has read these books, which is a travesty all by itself.
I gave every book in this series (and therefore the series as a whole) a 5/5 star rating.
The RED RISING trilogy is a fascinating epic that explores the highs and lows of human nature on a very large (yet also – very small) scale. It is set in outer space, and the world building is awe-inspiring. If I were hard-pressed to provide labels, I would need to mention sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian. However, if those don’t necessarily interest you, disregard them, because you should read this series anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever read another sci-fi book, and fantasy is found few and far between in my reading journey. I will, however, admit a leaning towards dystopian books.
I didn’t think I would like these books when I first encountered them (at that time, only Red Rising and Golden Son had been released). But I picked up Red Rising on a whim, and it hit me over the head and laid me out for not picking it up sooner. Although, I must admit, I am happy I found it with only a few months to wait for the final installment. The wait would have eviscerated me.
All in all, this trilogy is about honor, betrayal, philosophy, politics, loyalty, family, doubt, leadership, and many other topics that I could continue to name ad nauseum. It is a STRONG indictment of racism and classism; indeed, of many of the isms/phobias that we find ourselves observing and participating in in our society today, and shows, to the extreme, where they could lead us. It is about the wars that we wage with one another as humans, and also the very human condition of the wars that we wage within ourselves. It reminds us that you can’t subjugate a whole group (or groups) or people for years, decades, centuries, millennia, and then point to the disadvantage of their current state as a reason for the initial subjugation. It also reminds us that people are not all good or all bad, no matter how much we have painted them either in our minds.
Pierce Brown does an excellent job setting and maintaining a rapid-fire pace (after the somewhat slow build of Red Rising). He delivers enough of Darrow’s voice so that we can follow the story and his growth as a person, but keeps us out enough so that the action parts surprise, delight, or dismay us, as appropriate. The characters are deeply flawed. All of them. The good ones. The bad ones. Everyone has a weakness, and they ferret them all out to exploit them for their own causes. There is character growth, and there are also times where you are extremely disappointed in characters that you are rooting for, and I loved it, because that is real life. There are decisions that you disagree with, even vehemently, and the message is: that’s ok. You don’t have to agree with everything a person does, says, or thinks to respect them and their humanity.
Red Rising starts off a little slow. Give it one hundred pages before you even think of putting it down. Please. Really, I’m begging you. Do it. Once the story expands, it just doesn’t stop, and it pulls you right along with it. Red Rising is about the burning of rage, of betrayal on a scope you can’t even initially comprehend. Golden Son is about the relationships that are built, broken, maintained, or strengthened through the battle of honor and revenge. Morning Star is the amazing conclusion, about what it means to push through failure and to truly submit to a cause that is greater than one’s self.
I hope that this review has sparked even the smallest desire to pick these books up and devour them, as I have. I recommend it specifically so anyone interested in sci-fi, fantasy, stories with a strong moral conviction, or tales told with a dramatic backdrop (like OUTER SPACE). This is now my favorite trilogy of all time, and I don’t see it being supplanted any time soon.
PS: I am counting Morning Star as one of the books for the Mount TBR Challenge, since I pre-ordered it in December. Is that cheating? Oh well….
Read and enjoy, my darlings.