I should start with the old and worn saying: “never say never”. For despite my scalding review of the second installment, Golden Son, and doubts the size of Godzilla I did reach for the conclusion to the Red Rising trilogy. Availability is key, you might say, especially on long train trips 😉 Aaand a promise of mindless entertainment 😉
I’m therefore pleased to say Morning Star is better than Golden Son. As the trilogy’s finale, it has all the advantages of tying up every unfinished thread, and bringing logical and emotionally satisfying conclusion to the story, in the hopes of becoming the crowning achievement of the author.
Red Rising trilogy, just like an old-fashioned computer game, lines the problems up from the easiest – the Institute in Red Rising – to the most difficult – i.e. the whole solar system in Morning Star. The villainous bosses are also gaining weight and powers as the books flash by, and this time the main villain is the Big Bad herself, the autocratic ruler of the solar system, Olivia au Lune, and her sinister right hand, Aja. Not to mention the Jackal, the scourge of Mars, the evil twin of Mustang and the terrible alter ego to Darrow. A double Mr Hyde for the price of one! :).
All right, I finally got to the review of the second installment of Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. Golden Son was supposed to get bigger, better and more badass than its predecessor. Together with Darrow we leave the sheltered – even if a bit stifling – confines of the Institute, and are free to roam the big world outside, the whole Solar System colonized by genetically modified races of humans.
It sounds so perfect. The unfulfilled promise of Red Rising, which gave us only a glimpse of the broader world, was to be realized in its sequel, Golden Son. No longer were we to read about cruel games of privileged teenagers, Golden Son was to be the real deal. The teeth and claw of brutal reality, the multi-faceted political conflicts, the economic wars and the grey areas in between. And it even starts with a suitable bang, on a deck of a starship, in the middle of a naval fight, with very Ender-like Darrow tasting his final academic military success and witnessing as it immediately turns to ash.
But does it deliver?
Today a review of a YA novel, the first installment in a sci-fi dystopian trilogy that made quite a splash a couple of years back. I had been eyeing it for a while, sci-fi and dystopia being my constant points of interest, but the trigger to read this book was a friend’s recommendation – thanks, Dave! 🙂
I’ve read the first book and now am finishing the second. I think I can reasonably well tell you now what that fuss was all about :).
Red Rising was Brown’s debut, and has all the marks of a typical debut – the author is trying to find his voice, the writing is uneven, there are great ideas along some pretty bad ones… The story is YA-ish simple, the list of clear inspirations and allusions to genre literature and pop culture staggering. To sum it up in one sentence, I could say that Red Rising is a smooth mix of Lord of Flies/Ender’s Game/Hunger Games/Harry Potter/Braveheart/Gladiator. It would be completely true, but at the same time a bit unfair to the book. It is unoriginal; there is no point in arguing otherwise when one of the opening scenes is taken straight from Braveheart and the final ones clearly imitate Gladiator, when the whole imagined culture is a sadly trivialized version of the culture of Roman empire and the middle part is basically Ender in Hogwarts. But, surprisingly, I didn’t mind it overly much. Why, when usually I’m so awfully picky? Well, the answer to this will take a good number of sentences to explain, but in short – the worldbuilding and the characters in general, but especially the bloody-minded main protagonist.