Friday, February 3, 2017

Golden Son - Pierce Brown

Golden Son
Title: Golden Son
Author: Pierce Brown
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 430
How I Found It: I read the first book, Red Rising
Date Completed: 1/17/17

Summary: Set several years after the first book, Golden Son finds Darrow fighting space battles and trying desperately to regain some of the acclaim that he had at "graduation." His friends are scattered across the solar system and he hasn't heard from rebel leader Ares since the beginning of his dangerous quest. Over time, he re-positions himself, reforges relationships, and refocuses his journey to overthrow the Society and its brutal caste system.

What I Thought: I liked the first book in this series and was very nervous to pick up the second one. When an original story is so self-contained (as was Darrow's experience at the Academy), it can be difficult for an author to replicate the same feelings and engagement for readers later in the series. It's why Suzanne Collins sent Katniss back to the arena in Catching Fire and why, despite Collins' attempt to cast the Capitol as a new arena, so many people saw Mockingjay as a disappointing end to the series (I'm not one of those people, btw). It's why the Divergent series was an utter disaster by the time Veronica Roth got to Allegiant. So, I get nervous.

And I stayed nervous for a while here. The book has a slow start, despite beginning with an intense space battle. We've lost time with the characters and it takes a while to acclimate yourself to where everyone is - and remember who exactly they are. It took me quite a while to get drawn in. In fact, I even set the book aside for a couple months over the holidays and read other things. I just wasn't getting it. 

However, I knew I wanted to at least finish the book since I had so enjoyed the first one, so I picked it up again in January and pushed through until I reached a point of clarity and interest. That process took me way longer than it should have in my opinion. Perhaps, if I had read this sequel more directly after reading the first one, I would not have struggled as much.

Once the action picked up and the gang was back together, though, I did find myself pulled in with the same excitement as I had with the first book. Once Sevro was back, I was in. I love that little jerk - as does Darrow. By the time I was really committed again, the book was nearly halfway through and beginning to build to the climactic final battle in serious ways. Then, it was hard to put down.

The whole last third of the book had me on the edge of my seat. The battle for Mars was interesting and Brown threw some major curve balls, just as he did in Red Rising. It takes a lot to surprise me as a reader, so when my jaw dropped at the reveal of Ares' true identity, I was quite satisfied. 

I liked the ending, too. Brown set things up nicely for the next (final?) book. I thought the way Darrow's relationship with Mustang landed was authentic and left a lot of room for both conflict and growth in the next book. And, with the very last chapter, Brown twists things once again and leaves readers hanging off a cliff in suspense for the next book. I'm going to try not to wait so long in between books this time to hopefully avoid some of that re-acceleration process.

I will say, there were just so many more characters to keep track of in this one. They aren't in a self-contained environment anymore, as they were at the Academy, and so more and more people just keep arriving on scene. Of course, I completely forgot about the color and character guide at the start of the book, which would have helped me. Still, there were a lot of moments when I could not remember who someone was and where their allegiances lay. In my defense, people were switching teams a lot in this book.

This was as good sequel. It was what I expect from a middle book. Coming off of the Tearling series, I think I had higher hopes for this second installment. Despite my slow start, though, it caught me by the end and I definitely want to read the next one. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely, but I'll read the next book.
If You Liked This, Try: The Red Queen Wool The Dead Lands
Other Books By Pierce Brown: Red Rising

A Reduced Review: It took me a while to get back into the class warfare of Brown's dystopian space world, but once I did, it was a great ride to the finish.

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