“Red Rising,” “Golden Son,” and “Morning Star” by Pierce Brown
Del Rey Books; 382 pages, 430 pages, 524 pages; $15.00; 2014, 2015, 2016; Goodreads
It’s very seldom when I pick up a book and read it within two days, and it’s even more rare that I finish the whole trilogy in the span of a week and a half. That is what happened when I picked up Pierce Brown’s New York Times Best Selling “Red Rising” Trilogy. My first reaction was holy shit and my last reaction was that very empty feeling you get when you finish a series of books and the story ends.
Brown’s story follows Darrow of Lykos a miner on the planet Mars. Darrow lives in a society that is separated into castes that are distinguished by colors. Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste tasked with mining helium so that the planets of the solar system can be terraformed so that others can live there, but what Darrow doesn’t know is that the society he serves has been lying to him.
Mars is already terraformed and the highest caste level, the Golds, are living off of Darrow’s people’s sweat, blood and tears. Tragic events are put into place that will cause Darrow to start on a path that he will never be able to go back on. He will transform into a Gold, infiltrate their ranks, and destroy the hierarchy from the inside out, but that’s only if he can keep his secret and not be found out.
These books are a wild ride from start to finish. I found the first to be a bit slow, but once the narrative started getting grittier my eyes couldn’t move fast enough. I immediately fell in love with Darrow as the protagonist, since the story is told from his point of view. Brown does a great job at letting readers into the psyche of his main character and showing the anxiety, paranoia and stress that Darrow is under by taking on this mission.
Brown also has no qualms about making likeable and dis-likeable characters for readers to herald and absorb as the narrative continues. It helps too that his story is completely unique in, not only the premise for the society’s culture and caste system, but in the way that he writes. I have never seen prose so beautifully concocted. Brown does an obnoxiously amazing job at taking the violent and horrified aspects of his story and mixing it with delicate and pure words. The juxtaposition of the two had me finding myself in conflict as I read, not knowing which mindset to put myself in as a reader.
For this trilogy, death and war and revolution are the beautiful aspects of life. The way Brown describes Darrow’s razor slicing through flesh is all at once horrific and gorgeous. This was violence with an air of propriety and honor. This is why I couldn’t put these books down. It is apparent that we are not worthy of author, Pierce Brown, and his ability to fully grab us and pull us into his stories.
Brown is due out with the first book of a second trilogy in August of next year. The new story will take place ten years after “Morning Star” ends, and will feature some familiar and unfamiliar characters. Readers will get a look at what the price of revolution and rebellion is, and how life tries to continue afterwards.