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.
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I finished this book at 1:30am last night and woke up wondering what happen to my feathers. So I think it's safe to say I liked this book quite a bit!I finished this book at 1:30am last night and woke up wondering what happen to my feathers. So I think it's safe to say I liked this book quite a bit! Review to come!...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 went into We Were Liars one cocky son of a biscuit eater, feeling above it all right from page one. I'd seen this book talked about so heavily by otI went into We Were Liars one cocky son of a biscuit eater, feeling above it all right from page one. I'd seen this book talked about so heavily by other bloggers and how some never saw the twist coming or how others totally saw that twist coming. All the while, I was sitting on the sidelines with my shades on, posted up with my arms folded, saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hot potato." That's not to say I didn't want to read this book, because I did. I even had an ARC sitting on my shelf for the longest time, but due to a lot of the hype, I kept putting it off. Plus, I'm one of those people who usually can easily figure out a plot twist and I didn't want to dive into something where a lot of people already mentioned figuring it out.
But one thing did nag me a little in the back of my mind was that my Bookish Twin, Blythe from Finding Bliss in Books, LOVED it. I highly value her opinion when it comes to books, because we almost always agree. So when I happened to get my hands on the audiobook, I thought, "What the hell? I was supposed to read and review this anyway, right?" Let me tell you... WHOA.
***First off, I just wanna say that I don't know how the print compares to the audio and that it's possible I loved the book more than others because of the excellent job of the narrator. I can see how the fragmented sentences could be a pain to read, but this might be one of those cases where it sounds better out loud. That being said, I if you haven't read this book, possibly check out the audio version first.***
Anyway, I was feeling very blasé about the first half. It felt like a really random story about a rich, white girl and her white girl problems, crying her white girl tears and I felt myself unsure about what the point of it all was.
And maybe that makes me sound extremely heartless, but I couldn't relate to the main character (no, I'm not even going to tell you her name because I want you to go in blind). But somewhere along the lines, I started to become intrigued with the story because it became this strange, wild thing that I couldn't piece together.
Lockhart uses a very odd narration with fragmented sentences and strange descriptions, but I thought it was beautiful and unique. It added a very creepy layer on top the the existing oddness. It makes you question the main character, her account of the incident and the entire book. She's not very reliable and has the habit to cut off mid-sentence. I'm not sure if that was used as a way to distract the reader or if it was to used to make us question her sanity. Maybe a little bit of both. Either way, it worked on me.
As things started to heat up and I reached the cusp of the climax, the narrator's voice increased in intensity. She began talking faster, became very emotional, then suddenly on the verge of tears!
And I started thinking to myself, OH GOD NO. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
And then IT was revealed and I was all, "WHAT IS THIS LIFE? I REJECT EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS ENDING. NOOOOOOO!!!!"
So, naturally, I had a good cry and needed someone to hold me.
I know this review might not be the most helpful in the world, but it's true what everyone says about We Were Liars. You should absolutely go in blind, with no expectations and let this book take your feels as it sees fit. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers like Stephanie Kuehn's Charm and Strange or Complicit, than this one may be up your alley. I'll be here to hold you when you're finish.
Let's see if I can write this review without calling this book ridiculously cute!
Janie Jane is one lucky little girl who gets puppy one day on her birLet's see if I can write this review without calling this book ridiculously cute!
Janie Jane is one lucky little girl who gets puppy one day on her birthday, Sir Yips-a-lot. The two are a happier than two pigs in a blanket and are inseparable until Janie Jane's birthday rolls around again and she's given a kitty as a present, Lady Meow-Meow. Janie Jane's attention begins to shift from her first pet to the newest. Lady Meow-Meow is the "shiny new toy" and Sir Yips-a-lot stars feeling the beginnings of jealousy.
My kids and I really enjoyed this book. The artwork was in comic book style, sometimes with arrows showing the sequence of pictures. It made it easier for my kids to follow along and understand the story. Not to mention the illustrations were just SO CUTE! :D
I also loved the message and believe Cute & Cuter would be the perfect book to read to a child expecting a new sibling who may feel left out during the adjustment period of an expanding family. It would be a great opportunity for a child to open up about their feelings and for the child to be reassured that he/she is not forgotten.
The only downside to Cute & Cuter is that now my daughter seems to think she's owed a puppy, kitty and an octopus. I blame Janie's parents for buying so many cool presents!
Would you believe me if I said this book tells the story of my life? It totally does, and because of this, I feel I have a special appreciation for thWould you believe me if I said this book tells the story of my life? It totally does, and because of this, I feel I have a special appreciation for this short, yet funny little book. The artwork is very colorful and really does a great job at encompassing all the duties motherhood has to offer.
What I really loved was the fact that the mom manages to take care of all her responsibilities at home with her kids, at work and her children (who narrate) understand that. Through the kids' narration, you get a sense of wonder and fascination from their over all the amazing things their mom can do everyday and how they interpret it. When their mom does the laundry, they see this as her taming ferocious beasts. While their mom makes them breakfast, they see this as her being a maestro. And their mom manages to do all this and more... in heels (or stilts to them)! You can really feel the admiration the kids have for their mother.
This book features hard pages, which is awesome for those with younger children, like myself, who love to put any and everything in their mouths, from flip flops to books. It makes for easier page-turning for the tots. I always love these books best simply for their durability, knowing they have a better chance of survival against the whim of my children.
I'd recommend this one for moms with kids ages 0-5 or even early readers since it is features fairly simple words and is short.
5 Year-Old Thoughts: "Awesome book!"
And there you have it from the mouth of a babe. Awesome book....more
This book is very adorable with its concept of lost toys. It reminds me of Toy Story in a way since each toy clearly has a distinct voice and personalThis book is very adorable with its concept of lost toys. It reminds me of Toy Story in a way since each toy clearly has a distinct voice and personality, portrayed with different fonts. Parents will find this story perfect for creating "voices" during story time.
What I love best is that it's a story of a story. The lead toy, Wonder Doll, tells the toys a story of an alien to distract them from their fear of the dark. The fun part for kids is guessing if her tale was real or make believe. I'd recommend this for family reading time for toddlers and older children. ...more