Friday, June 2, 2017

Morning Star - Pierce Brown

Morning Star
Title: Morning Star
Author: Pierce Brown
Publication Date: 2/9/16
Pages: 524
Genre: Dystopian / Science Fiction / Fiction 
How I Found It: I read the first two books of the series. 
Date Completed: 5/14/17

Summary: System-wide war erupts as Darrow and those loyal to him attempt to end the dictatorial rule of the Golds. 

What I Thought: I've had an interesting journey with this series. I've liked it, overall, but I've also felt really bored with it at times. The first book was easily my favorite of the series. I struggle some with book two. This one felt so far removed from book one, I'm not even fully sure how I feel about it. 

First off, let me say how thankful I am that Brown included a "Previously On..." type intro. He summarizes the story of each of the first books in a couple paragraphs. Man, did I need that. If you remember when I read Golden Son, you remember me complaining that it had been too long since I read Red Rising and I was hopelessly lost for a while. Including this summary of previous books did not completely eliminate that feeling for me here, but it definitely helped a lot

However, there were still way too many characters to keep track of. The list of characters really doesn't help much, partially because nearly everyone seems to go by multiple names at various points. One sentence about their place in the color hierarchy does not help me remember who they are and why I care about them. I get that in a solar system wide story you're going to have lots of people involved. That's fine with me. I just want a better way to keep track of who's who and where their allegiances lie. I think this would even be fine if Brown did a better job of holding the reader's hand in this regard. He doesn't, though. He leaves you floundering and flipping through pages trying to recall if you've met this new character or not and, if so, if you're supposed to trust them. It makes things confusing.

Throughout the book, I really struggled to stay engaged. It's a long book (over 500 pages) and, for me, there were more periods of disengagement than interest. Even the actions sequences - in fact, often the action sequences - felt dull to me. I think I just don't really like how Brown writes action. Total personal preference, for sure, but I much preferred the discussions of strategy or relationship building. Perhaps because those were the points that helped me figure out what was going on and who was loyal to whom. 

I did absolutely love that Brown seemed introduce a character named Felicia for all of one paragraph just so Victra could say, "Bye, Felicia." Oh, the depths of pleasure that brought me. It was so perfect, both for Vitra's character and as a very smooth grounding point for readers in 2017. Gosh, it was great. Thanks for that, Pierce. 

I want to talk about the ending, too. When you write a series, the pressure for a good ending, I feel, is multiplied by the number of books in the series. Three books? Three times the pressure to end things well. And I had some feelings about this ending. So, spoiler alert. We're going there. Skip the next two paragraphs if you want to be spared from some major spoilers. 

As we headed into the last battle, I actually really like that Darrow tricked everyone and went to Luna (Earth's moon) rather than Mars. It's a surprise for the reader as well, but Brown explains it well and I liked it. The twist I did not like was when they tried to release Cassius. When he turned on them and killed Sevro, I was livid. I honestly put the book down and walked away. Just for a couple hours, but still. I was pissed. Sevro is like the Peeta of this series in a lot of ways. His devotion to Darrow (especially after Darrow subverts his authority earlier in the book) is part of why we love Darrow. His death made me so, so mad, especially because it felt so unnecessary. Of course, by the time I got another chapter in and Cassius was delivering Darrow, Mustang, and Sevro's body to the Sovereign, I was beginning to have suspicions. Brown played us well. Of course, it all turned out to be a trick. Sevro is miraculously revived (still don't totally understand how that worked, but I'll suspend some disbelief for the character's return), Darrow ends up getting his hand back, and all's well that ends well. I like that Cassius returns to being Darrow's friend, as he was in Red Rising. That was a nice thread to tie up.

The biggest shock, however, comes in the very final chapter. Mustang has been hiding a secret son from Darrow this whole book. She and Darrow's mother determined that he couldn't know about his fatherhood and do the job he needed to do leading the rebellion. It was a great surprise. Maybe a bit too pretty of a bow to put on everything, but I liked it. I liked that Darrow, who spent so much of this series longing for family and imagining the life and children he might have had with Eo, finally got everything he wanted. I like that while things wrapped up cleanly in his personal life, he recognized the political struggles of rebuilding (check out the last quote below). I like that Mustang ended up in charge instead of him. All in all, I really did like the ending. 

I still have mixed feelings about this series. Overall, I think I'll look back on it fondly. There are definitely people to whom I will and already have recommended it. Definitely some major flaws, at least as far as my preferences go, but it is a unique story and one that really celebrates equality in important, powerful ways.

Quotes I Loved: 

  • "You know a people have given up when they stop teaching their children." 
  • "When I looked up at my father as a boy, I thought being a man was having control. Being the master and commander of your own destiny. How could any boy know that freedom is lost the moment you become a man. Things start to count. To press in. Constricting slowly, inevitably, creating a cage of inconveniences and duties and deadlines and failed plans and lost friends."
  • "In my youth, I thought I would destroy the Society. Dismantle its customs. Shatter the chains and something new and beautiful would simply grow from the ashes. That's not how the world works. This compromised victory is the best mankind could hope for. Change will come slower than Dancer or the Sons want, but it will come without the price of anarchy."  

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful
If You Liked This, Try: The Red Queen Wool The Dead Lands
Other Books By Pierce Brown: Red Rising Golden Son

A Reduced Review: Though it drags at times, this series finale has a great ending and I'm glad to have stuck with it to the end. 


  1. I had no idea about the "bye Felicia" expression. lol Had to look it up.

    1. Haha. Yeah, it's probably one of the few current slang phrases I actually know. Is calling it slang even still a thing?