Red Rising (2014) Rating: 4.8 Stars.
Golden Son (2015) Rating: 4.2 Stars.
Morning Star (2016) Rating: 4.7 Stars.
So I read Red Rising back in 2014, pretty much right after it came out and it completely and utterly blew my mind. At first I thought it was just another apocalyptic fiction in a different setting, but it was clear within the first 100 pages that it was so much more. Its so difficult to describe, so let me try. Think space opera meets dystopia meets roman legions with a wack-smattering of creativity and then you’ll get close to what this is. It’s an alternate world that Brown has created based on colours defining your role in society. Reds, are at the bottom of the heap (Darrow’s birth colour) with the most horrific jobs, and no hope of changing. The rankings work their way up through the rainbow, to Gold – the rulers of society, and the physically superior. Each book in turn I’ve waited on bated breath and tried to read as soon as they came out. This last one took me a little longer as, my god, it was a big one.
In Red Rising, you meet Darrow, a 16-year-old resident of Mars (after colonization) at the lowest end of society (a Red). Once he loses everything, gains a dangerous opportunity to join the highest rankings to attempt to take the society down. You begin to see how crafty he really is as he shows off his skills at the academy.
In Golden Son, you see Darrow go through his ups and downs as he adjusts to life outside of the academy trying to prove himself worthy to score an important position within the rankings of the Golds. Here we see Darrow’s world expand a little to the Gold society as whole.
In Morning Star, we see the expansion of our understanding of the universe itself, learning more about the people living on Jupiter’s surrounding moons, and societies closer to the sun. This book was loaded with action, action, action. There was barely a reprieve between one giant conflict and the next bigger one. Squeeze in some diplomacy and manipulation in those intermittent periods, and you’re back hard core into the action. What a ride.
What I love most about these is that it just felt different than anything I’ve read. The world was creative, the technology he described was fascinating, and the writing style fully sucked me into the world of Darrow and his mindset, yet he kept me guessing. Several occasions, I found myself thinking “What are you doing!?” Only to get through a chapter or two, and think “Oh my god…” Up and down, up and down, with hardly a rest.
Although the series starts off as a “teen fiction” type book where the main character is 16, it becomes anything but that. By the time that you get to Morning Star, the character has developed so far beyond that its unidentifiable as YA. Its just too intricate and advanced. I would argue that its my biggest beef with the book. Darrow should never have been 16 to begin with, as I never really believed that he was. That being said, it’s a pretty weak issue I have, and one I easily overlooked.
Recommendation: It’s a challenging series, and not for younger readers. There is so much going on, so much political understanding and diplomacy that takes place, you really need to have the head for it. It also gets a bit gory at times. All in all, if this sounds the least bit interesting to you, I highly encourage you to check it out.