My 9th read of the year was Golden Son, the second book in the Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown.
You can read my thoughts on the first book in the series here.
An attempt at summarising
These books are set in a dystopian future, where humans have colonised the other planets are divided in a strict class hierarchy by their colours, with Golds at the top, through to the slave race of reds at the bottom. Darrow, our main character, was saved by the rebel army, after he and his wife were hung from breaking the strict rules that govern the red mines. In the first book, Darrow undergoes dangerous surgeries to turn him into a Gold, so he can infiltrate their ranks.
The story starts a few years after the events at the end of Red Rising, where Darrow has risen to the very top of the ruling class of the Gold’s, earning the right to command his own fleet on behalf of the governor of Mars. When he fails in a simulated battle against the governor’s enemy, another elite Gold family, suddenly, everything Darrow has worked for looks like it will come crumbling down. After he is ambushed and severely beaten by this family after the games and the whole thing is televised to the rest of the Golds, the governor chooses to sell his contract. When the Son’s of Aries (the rebel army) finally gets back in touch with Darrow, they almost have him convinced to end things a big, permanent way, at a summit of all the most important families in the empire. Instead, Darrow realises the only way to bring chaos and jeopardise the regime at its core, is to start a civil war from within. The rest of the story then follows the fall out from this choice.
What did I think?
So, I listened to this as an audio book, just like I did the first one and once again, I’m pretty glad I did because this is such an intense, meaty book! SO much happens and each time it looks like Darrow might be victorious, something happens to knock him back but always in a clever way, not in a frustrating- just-done-to-keep-the-plot-going way. I really enjoy the character arc Darrow is going on and for a book that is about politics, race, totalitarian regimes and eugenics, at its heart it is about humanity, love and the beauty humanity is capable of.
If you enjoy dystopian, sci-fi fiction which explores a lot of deep concepts, I would still definitely recommend this series. Although, it caused me to have a little cry on the train (I listen while commuting) more than a few times.