Thursday, May 28, 2015

Golden Sun: Book II of the Red Rising Trilogy, by Pierce Brown: Book Review

This will assume you have read this the first book of the trilogy, and know the character’s names and plots from the first bookJ.
If one word could sum up Golden Sun it would be, predictable. I still enjoyed the characters, the overall story arc, and the world the story is set in. The big glaring issue with the book is its predictability. Maybe it is just me, but I found I knew what was going to happen with characters five to ten chapters before Brown got around to finally making it happen. There is one glaring example of this, in fact, I was hoping Brown was going to throw me for a loop. He could have made the character not do what he had hinted at for almost the entire book. In the end he did what he had hinted at, and the book went according to plan. The issue is these parts are supposed to be surprising. I guess they are supposed to be surprising for Darrow, but if he knew his friends, they should not be.
To summarize the plot, some slight spoilers follow. We find Darrow a couple of years after we left him. He is getting ready to graduate from the fleet academy. He fails to take top prize at the school, and as a result falls out of favor with Augustus. Darrow must find a way back into Augustus favor so he can continue to try and bring down the Gold society from within. He is able to reestablish his favor, and in doing so, kicks off a civil war. Darrow hopes that by starting the civil war it will spark the other castes in the society to rise up, and reform and rebellion will ensue.
The intriguing part of the book is Darrow’s character development. He feels utterly alone, and Brown does a great job of showing how isolated Darrow feels. Spoiler: Darrow revels he is a Red to Sevro. It is an extremely touching well written exchange in the book. Darrow has not been able to find the Sons of Ares, and he is not sure what he is supposed to be doing. He is adrift with no true purpose. When he is finally able to revel his true self to one of his Gold friends, Darrow breaks down. It is great job of writing, the feeling jumps off the page.  This is the part of the book which really shines. The development of Darrow is spectacular. He grows as a person through his struggles and triumphs, and Brown should be commended for how he makes the character change in the novel.
I like the plot, and the action is top notch. Brown does a great job writing the action, and you never feel lost while it is going on. The action in this book was more developed and improved from the first novel. There is only one spot in the novel that did not think add to the overall story. I will not go into detail, but Darrow meets up with Harmony, Mickey, and Evey in the first third of the novel. This story line does not really add any substance to the overall plot. It could have been cut, or maybe changed so it would have had more impact on the novel overall.  This one small point is all I had to quibble with the plot, and the pace of the book.
So why, if I like the plot, would I classify the book as predictable? It simply is. You know who is going to pop up, who is going to die, and who is going to backstab our hero.  It is still a great read and kept me entertained. I am invested in the character, and I want to find out how Brown gets us to the end point. Slight Spoiler:  A few characters betray Darrow during the course of the story. Not saying which ones, but you will be able to figure it out. One instance is extremely obvious. While the action was unfolding you know the character is going to betray Darrow. It is just in the characters nature. Darrow should have known, and it was out of character for Darrow not to know. This is the only part of Darrow’s character development which did not mesh well with his other growth. Brown may be trying to show how much Darrow trusted his friends, when he shouldn’t have.

The book is more about the journey than the destination. You know where it is going to go, but it is a great ride to get there. If you read the first book, you will enjoy the second. It is fast paced action, and still has some of the deeper social aspects from the first book. It is not quite as deep as the first, but a reread might be needed to absorb some of Brown’s finer points.  Give the trilogy a try if you like an interesting world, and great characters. I will look forward to reading the third book when it comes out next year. 

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