DNF at 30%. I started this because The Jewel had an evil cliffhanger and I really wanted to know what happened to the characters. Well, upon startingDNF at 30%. I started this because The Jewel had an evil cliffhanger and I really wanted to know what happened to the characters. Well, upon starting The White Rose, I realized that I remember NOTHING from the first book, which made it extremely had to remain invested in this book. So once I found out what happened to the characters, my interest took a nose dive and I knew it was time to put The White Rose aside.
If you enjoyed The Jewel, I highly recommend a quick re-read before jumping into this one. ...more
Red Rising for teens? Hmm... Red Rising could technically be cross-over, so I'm wondering if this would be aimed mostly towards younger teens in partiRed Rising for teens? Hmm... Red Rising could technically be cross-over, so I'm wondering if this would be aimed mostly towards younger teens in particular. Either way, I'm interested! :D...more
I really wonder if I would have liked this book more if I had read it with the rest of the world years ago. I can't help but compare it to dystopian nI really wonder if I would have liked this book more if I had read it with the rest of the world years ago. I can't help but compare it to dystopian novels that are out now, which isn't very fair because those authors have had many, many examples to get theirs right. So it's really hard for me to review this without completely ripping the book's throat out for its lack of world building and terrible pacing. On the surface, it's a great story, but I didn't feel any of the strong emotional connections others mention when they talk fondly of this classic.
Also, the ending was ridiculous. There is no way a young boy and a baby would have survived in the wild alone. I do not buy that....more
This 5 star rating might come as a surprised to some of you who know how conflicted Red Rising left me. In fact, it's one of the only books I've read,This 5 star rating might come as a surprised to some of you who know how conflicted Red Rising left me. In fact, it's one of the only books I've read, but NOT rated. How often does that happen? Hmm... never. So how did I go from "unable to rate book one" to "loving book 2 something fierce"? The short and lazy answer is, I don't know. The long and complicated version is this review. Huzzah!
Golden Son is a remarkable improvement over some of the issues I had with Red Rising. The writing and plot are noticeably stronger. The characters are fleshed out more. The action and suspense are cranked up several more notches. Really, I couldn't ask for more in a sequel.
Fixed Issue #1: Super Slow Beginning
First off, unlike Red Rising where I struggled with the first 100 pages, Golden Son starts off strong with plenty of action to keep the reader interested. Since the pesky job of world building has been taken care of long, it gave Brown the opportunity to focus on what really mattered: making heads roll. What surprised me with Golden Son was just how many heads actually did roll, but more on that later.
The majority of this novel focuses on Darrow outside the academy and the war he purposefully started. We find out a lot more about the Sons of Ares and the inner workings of the politics of the Golds. I was a little wary about that because a ton of political intrigue can lead to boredom. But in this case, that was not something that ever happened.
Fixed Issue #2: Treatment of Female Characters
My biggest issue with Red Rising was the treatment of female characters, specifically Mustang. I felt she was put into deliberate situations that forced Darrow to swoop in and save her lest her virtue be ruined. I'm so over that trope in books, so I was disappointed to see it in Red Rising.
The good news is that Brown clearly took more care with showing us Mustang's strength. (slight spoilers, but not really) There's one scene in Golden Son where Darrow finally has a chance to talk to Mustang after certain events have pulled them apart and she ends up close with Cassius. He claims that he understands how she must feel, but she quickly corrects him. This is my favorite scene in the entire book:
"Now, I'm sure you understand that I felt lost. One, because I thought I'd found someone special in you. Two, because I felt you were abandoning the idea that gave us the ability to conquer Olympus. Consider that I was vulnerable. Lonely. And that perhaps I fell into Cassius's bed because I was hurt and needed a salve to my pain. Can you imagine that? You may answer."
I squirm on my cushion. "I suppose."
"Good. Now shove that idea up your ass." Her lips make a hard line. "I am not some frill-wearing tramp. I am a genius. I say this because it is a fact. I am smarter than any person you've met, except perhaps my twin. My heart does not make my brain a fool."
I really love how confident Mustang is in that scene and how unashamed she is about it. In that same scene, she goes on to tell him that he is not as invincible as he thinks and how he needs her if he has any hope of winning the war.
I just really wished Darrow listened more. (view spoiler)[ If there was one thing that I had issue with, it's that if Darrow had repaired his friendship with Roque, none of the events in the ending would have happened. Servo and Mustang kept telling him over and over, "Fix that, Darrow" and he would agree, but never makes strides to actually do it. I just wanted to shake him and say, "You are at war! You need all your allies to be completely on your side!!" My problem was that the foreshadowing for that was too obvious. I knew that eventually it would lead to something devastating. (hide spoiler)]
Fixed Issue #3: Darrow's a Super Gary Stu
This can't be denied. No matter how much I admit to liking Red Rising, there was no doubt about it: Darrow was a Gary Stu in every possible way. He's The One. The Only One who can bring down the Golds and help the Reds rise. He can overcome any situation, no matter how horrible or impossible. I can completely see why this may bother some readers even if the novel contains intense fight scenes and dramatic rescues. It just gets to a point where you start to say, "COME ON ALREADY."
Golden Son completely crushes that. Right from the first scene in the book, we see Darrow failing at something important and non one wants anything to do with him besides Roque. It was a little jarring to see Darrow that low, considering how far he had fallen. But shortly after, Brown played an interesting hand that *somewhat* annoyed me and the Gary Stu-ness returned in Full Gundam Force. However, just like in Red Rising, this didn't bother me much because I was too focused on fact that Darrow was busy giving someone the ass beating of a lifetime. What can I say? Priorities, I've got them.
What's interesting is how the other characters continually call Darrow out on his apparent invincibility several times. My favorite one being this quote:
“You are but a mortal," Roque whispers in my ear, riding his horse alongside the chariot, as per tradition. "And a whorefart," Servo calls from the other side. "Yes," Roque agrees solemnly. "That too.”
OMG THE ENDING THO.
When the ending finally came, I realized Brown had me right where he wanted me (get your minds out of the gutter). After thinking that Darrow could pull through out of anything that opposed him, I was not prepared for the ending. Truly, the last 25% of this novel is what bumped my rating from 4 starts to 5. There was so much death in that scene that it made Red Rising look like child's play. And that took balls. It made me angry, shocked, confused and immensely distraught. I absolutely have no idea how Darrow is supposed to pull through this mess. It's that bad.
My feelings are so conflicted about the ending, it can only be described by way of Kanye and Jay-Z lyrics.
Ball so hard. Dat shit cray. BITCH BEHAVE.
Then there's my ship. Mustang and The Reaper. I really need this to work out. This is my OTP. My ship that I might just go down with. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't said anything to calm my fears and I'm sitting on the edge of my seat in fear.
More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is the first review I've ever written where I'm leaving a book unrated. I both loved and hated this book equally. There were parts that really frThis is the first review I've ever written where I'm leaving a book unrated. I both loved and hated this book equally. There were parts that really frustrated me, bored me, excited me, and completely hooked me. I'm not even sure what Red Rising is really classified as. One half of the book feels very Dystopian/sci-fi while the other half reads like an entirely different genre, perhaps High Fantasy. If I were to even attempt to describe what this book is I'd say image Gladiator and Lord of the Flies having an illicit love affair on an acid trip. Their baby would be Red Rising. How do I fit a book like that on a 1-5 star rating scale?
Darrow is a Helldriver on Mars, drilling in mines with the belief that one day his people will live on the surface once the planet is ready. He and his people live under strict rules. While Darrow is more than happy to keep his head down and do his job, his wife Eo, has a different dream. She considers her people slaves to the Gold, the ruling class, and wants to take action to free them from their chains. Through a course of unfortunate events, Darrow finds himself on the surface disguised as a Gold, and with the help of other rebels, enrolls in the Academy with an ending goal to rise in the ranks of the Gold's society. The only problem is that the school is literally a war among the students.
I was initially drawn to this book because of the interesting premise and the glowing early reviews from my friends on Goodreads. I was a little surprised to not have heard of this book, but was eager to find out what the fuss was about. The only thing that worried me was that a few of my more critical friends had either DNF'd or gave it a lower rating. As I started reading I could immediately see why so many gave up. Red Rising's beginning is very slow and often times a little dull. I did struggle through the first 100 pages and almost gave up myself a few times. Darrow isn't the most interesting guy to read about in the beginning and I didn't really connect well with him at first.
When Darrow goes through his transformation and enrolls in the school SHIT GOT REAL really fast. I don't know what I was expecting when he got the academy. Desks, chairs, tests, teen drama on a grander scale, probably. What I didn't expect was for Darrow's first test to include killing a boy with his bare hands, placed in a House Mars with other killer teens with the expectation to conquer the other Houses through warfare. I mean, WHAT. That's the part where I had to go back and re-read the blurb, because WHAT WAS I READING? (Let me just say I can see this all playing out marvelously on the big screen. No wonder they optioned it for a movie.)
So naturally I abandoned Real Life and become hopelessly addicted to the story. Darrow, a boy filled with rage due to the injustice placed on him as a Red, is placed in House Mars with a bunch of other hotheads and psychopaths. Due to their nature, it's hard for them to agree on anything and the House quickly becomes divided with the stronger tribe being controlled by Titus. The House struggles to find food and water, some resorting to eating animals raw. Tensions continue to rise between the Housemates until it ultimately results in a few brutal deaths.
The Houses continue to battle between each other in a battlefield that resembles many High Fantasy stories, complete with castles and Grecian allusions, while their teachers watch on. For Darrow, winning this "game" means more than just getting a better career option in the Gold's society like the other students. It means being in a position of power to help the rebels free the Reds from slavery. Over the course of months, battles are lost/won, enemies are made and alliances formed. Darrow begins to see that it's not just Reds who are trapped within their color.
What I loved most about Red Rising was the action and premise. I don't think I've ever read a book that had such a jarring genre mesh up that actually works to the point where it feels like you've read two different books at once. The strategy of the battles and ambushes were well thought out, the characters were well-developed and the world building very rich, reminding me of The Bone Season. There are a lot of slang words that initially turned me off because there's so much and each color (think: caste system) has their own. The terms blooddamn, glorydamn, and goodman were the three that seemed to annoy me the most, but by the end, I felt I really had a good grasp on it all.
I also enjoyed Darrow as a character and his development from a person who was willing to stay under the Golds' boot to someone who was willing to poke the lion. I'm not sure at what point I started rooting for this guy, but by the end where Darrow is going HAM on everyone, I was completely entertained and couldn't turn pages fast enough. He reminded me of Huntsalone from The Seven Realms series in that way due to how tactical he had become. I also have to agree with the other reviewers that say Darrow is a Gary Stu, Mary Sue's more perfect and cuter brother. Ha. It's so true. He's one of those The One characters where it can only be him that brings the society to his knees. No other Red has gotten as far as him, who is as smart as him, has been this awesome. He does have his moments where he does fail and almost die, but for the most part he's The One. I personally didn't really care because I was having too much fun by the end, so there's that.
If there is one thing that really bothered me it would be the way rape was handled in the story. I understand that in times of war this happens and I wasn't bothered that it was included, but it was the way it was used to develop certain characters that did not sit well with me. This is one of the reasons why I'm just unsure what to rate Red Rising. The rape really bothered me to the point where I saw red, mainly because it was so unnecessary. But, at the same time, I did really enjoy the novel. I'll go into that deeper in my spoiler tag.
(view spoiler)[Titus' character was one that I felt lacked. His entire back story involves a tragedy where his wife was raped by Golds. So in an effort to gain revenge, he decides it's only fair to rape Gold women from other Houses who were captured during different battles. This is not a great way to use rape in a story. Titus' character is demonized and therefore viewed as unredeemable by the reader because he's done The Ultimate Bad Thing by raping women. This later justifies his death and makes Darrow look like a savior.
Then, while Darrow and a female character are camping out in a cave, boys enter and sexually assault her while Darrow is away. He comes back to see her in her underwear tied up. He punishes these boys by hunting them down and killing them. Again, he is the awesome savior of women.
Later, another situation of almost rape comes up when Darrow is in charge and he's left with the responsibility of punishing the criminal. Rape in that situation was used as the catalyst to make Darrow out to be The Ultimate Hero for stopping rape. Why is it that most of the Bad Guys are sexually assaulting women just for Darrow to come swooping in to the rescue? Using rape to condemn certain characters and raise others up is tasteless, in my opinion, and is a complete turn off. The sad thing is that Red Rising didn't need any of it to show the brutality of the Academy's warring Houses. There was enough killing to go around to prove that point. Having your female characters sexually assaulted just because they have vaginas and because rape must be the worst thing to happen to a woman is not the way to go. (hide spoiler)]
The ending was nothing short of entertaining. Lots of planning, revenge, battles and death. Just how I like my action. There really isn't a cliffhanger, thank goodness, but I REALLY want to know what happens next. I'm wondering if Golden Son will have as much action given where Darrow is headed next, but Pierce Brown has convinced me that I need to stick around to find out what happens next. I would recommend this to mature YA readers as this is considered Adult with crossover appeal to the YA audience. If it feels like you're stuck on those first 100 pages, take heart, the second half will blow your socks off, sucker punch you in the kidneys and feed your innards to the dogs. But you'll like it.
ARC was provided by the publisher for an honest review. No monies or gifts were exchanged.
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I've debated on what I should write in this review space. Usually I'm a pretty sarcastic person, flinging jokes left and right to entertain during whaI've debated on what I should write in this review space. Usually I'm a pretty sarcastic person, flinging jokes left and right to entertain during what could be a really dull review. But for this, I'm less inclined to since I'm close to the source material, witnessed the production of this book and contributed two pieces.
This is a non-profit book, so none of the contributors are making any money from this production. You can buy it for $.99 (it's the lowest price LuLu let us set it) or you can read it for free here.
So I'll just ramble about my Random Off Topic Feelings.
I've been dealing with Goodreads/author drama for two years now. And I remember when I first joined Goodreads, I didn't know that authors were even on this site, let alone reading reviews. My thought was, "WHY? Why would a person want to read my insignificant thoughts on their book?" At the time, my reviews existed only to entertain myself and my very small group of friends. It was fun and exciting to find people who loved to read as much as I did, so it's no surprise that Goodreads quickly became my favorite Internet place to visit. But then the drama started, and little by little I found my joy for reviewing dwindling.
I don't review or read as much as I used to, which has me feeling some kind of way. I'm ashamed to admit that I've struggled writing reviews. I second guess words or phrases. Will the author flip out over this one star review? Will the author send his/her band of loyal fans to downvote my review on Amazon? Is this review too controversial? Will someone accuse me of bullying someone? It's maddening. It's gotten to the point where I cringe sometimes when I see a notification on certain reviews. There were already too many fucking people in my review space... and now there's Goodreads too.
I won't lie that I feel personally betrayed and hurt by how Goodreads has done a few things. Some of that stems from things that aren't publicly known (and they'll stay that way, so don't even begin to ask me) and some of it from the part of me that is just fed up with being singled out. It's happened a little too often for my liking this year and I'm just so over the bullshit.
This is getting rather depressing, so I'll make my point. Seeing the production of this book has reminded me why I love the people on Goodreads when I was starting to forget. To see first hand the determination and dedication from people who I've followed and admired for years was incredible. Their drive and motivation to continue on and power through when I felt my own waning is inspiring. These are my people with their flaws, controversies, passion, sophistication, crude humor, sarcasm, irrelevance, brilliance. In true Pitch Perfect flavor:
SO DISAPPOINTED! I loved Arclight and couldn't wait to read this, but it let me down big time. Biggest issue: it wasn't very exciting for me. I don'tSO DISAPPOINTED! I loved Arclight and couldn't wait to read this, but it let me down big time. Biggest issue: it wasn't very exciting for me. I don't know if I was just in one of those reading slump moods, or if it was Meridian, but something wasn't working out. Everything moved so slowly and I found myself losing interest as the book went on. Quite a few times, I almost DNF'd just to spare myself, but I was really curious about the ending and if Marina would end up with the guy I shipped her with. NOPE. T_T