Review: Red Rising and Golden Son by Pierce Brown

April 8, 2015 5 stars, Audio Book, Book Review 18 ★★★★★

Review: Red Rising and Golden Son by Pierce BrownGolden Son by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Trilogy #2
Published by Recorded Books on January 6, 2015
Genres: Adult SFF, Dystopian, Science fiction
Length: 19 hours 2 minutes
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
My Reviews in this series: Red Rising

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart,Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

Golden Son blows its predecessor Red Rising out of the water in so many ways. But it wouldn’t have been able to do that without the excellent groundwork that was laid. Where as I only seriously enjoyed Red Rising, I absolutely loved Golden Son.

Kicking it off with the fireworks

Things immediately hit the ground running in the action department with Golden Son. It’s as if we are moved from one pivotal situation to another with just enough downtime between each to let you catch your breath. I tell you there wasn’t a moment of bored for me! That is where Red Rising fell short for me at times. Because Darrow was stuck in that war games area and there is only so much of the same brand of action and brutality I could take before growing bored of it. But in Golden Son each situation brings some major thing to the table that was key in driving the story in a certain direction. I felt like there wasn’t a word wasted.

Jumping forward in time

Normally when a second book makes a jump forward in time it doesn’t always work out but I thought it was well done here by only being a few years and honestly hey important stuff doesn’t ALWAYS take place in someone’s life so I felt that it was really realistic in that way and helped solidify things for me. Darrow and his friends are 20 now and he’s working for the man that sentenced his dear wife Eo to death. He’s having some internal struggles with maintaining his double life. Not that he really has a double life since he hasn’t heard from the Sons of Ares in all this time. He doesn’t know what else he needs to do so he continues doing the things he thinks will best position him for the future fight.

Friends of all colors

I absolutely love the theme of friendship in Golden Son. Darrow really drives home how important friends are to him and how much more powerful being a friend is above so many other things. There are a lot of ways in which this theme comes into play and I really enjoyed how all of the relationships unfolded. On top of that we got to see more of the other colors and Darrow bring more of the other races into his fold. I especially loved the addition of Obsidian. The supporting characters were better fleshed out this time around, especially the females. That was a big problem I had with the first book, none of the females were very strong characters to me except Mustang towards the very end.

Thoughts on the narration

Is it possible to be even better then the first!? Why yes! I think this might be because the narrator seemed like he must have gotten really immersed in the characters by this time. The voice acting and different accents and nuances to the array of character voices was just fabulous! I definitely loved the narration Tim Gerard Reynolds did with Golden Son so much more then Red Rising. How he managed to really put such full force of personality into each voice is beyond me. Ooh goodness I love Sevro! I absolutely recommend the audio version over the print there is nothing like listening  to these characters come to life.


Red RisingRed Rising by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1
Published by Recorded Books, Del Rey on January 28, 2014
Genres: Science fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 382
Audiobook Length: 16 hours 12 minutes
Source: Purchased

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow– and Reds like him– are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’ s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’ s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.


​Red Rising could be a science fiction dystopian but once you get past the first part it could also be a sort of medieval fantasy as it mashes together various elements and is able to pull them all off.

It’s an example of the “chosen one” character trope in fantasy, where a somewhat ordinary boy/man rises above his station to be more (or the best really). I’ve seen this trope done plenty of times before and no doubt will see it done many times again. I think that it’s because it’s a story that readers want. As long as its done well of course, and here it most certainly is. You want to sympathize with Darrow and you most certainly want him to win. And even when he wins or is saved by the skin of his teeth from death I’ll still swallow every bit of unlikeliness that things could happen that way.

Against the odds a slave Red like Darrow has been transformed into a Gold and he infiltrated their society thru admission to their institute. There he will learn that Golds are just as abused by their own people as Reds are used and advised by all colors above them. He will make friends, enemies and maybe even realize his heart can learn to love again.

Prepare yourself for the brutality!

I’m not joking when I say that some readers might have a hard time with Red Rising if they are sensitive to things like torture, rape, amputation and all the other ugly things that can happen during a war. There isn’t a “real” war going on but there might as well be with the battle that these students are put through. While there are rules there might as well not be because none of them are followed. It’s a dirty game of war that is afoot and so if you’re going to dive into this one you better be prepared. Am I twisted for enjoying it? Maybe a bit – but I like my fiction dark and gritty at times and this definitely gave that to me.

This reminds me of Alterac Valley – You World of Warcrafters know what I mean!

The way the game of war the students have to participate in is setup and the landscape they are dropped into very much reminds me of the days I PVP’d (player versus player) in the MMO World of Warcraft. At the time I played quite a bit in Alterac Valley, it was one of the main battlegrounds and the two opposing factions were dropped down at different parts of the map and you had to capture points on the map with your battle standard and ultimately try to overwhelm the other faction’s base of operations. It was a lot of killing, raiding and more killing. Of course Red Rising was way more brutal but I couldn’t help but be reminded of it. Folks that love a good war game will appreciate Red Rising.

Rape is always wrong, but here? Well lets say I felt it was done wrong

There was only one major gripe I had with this book and that is the way women and rape is used/treated. For much of the novel, practically all of it the women are not characters at all but just means to push the plot in whatever direction things were going to go. I was pretty upset by the flagrant use of rape at almost every turn to paint Darrow as a hero in at least three or more different instances. It got to be tedious and made me lose respect for the book at times. Darrow didn’t need such a heinous act to be a strong and sympathetic character. I ran across a guest article by Analee Flower Horne titled ‘I’m Not Broken’ on Jim C. Hines blog recently and I absolutely believe many authors would do themselves a favor by reading it. I’ve seen rape used so poorly in so many novels that it really makes me sad especially when I essentially love everything else about the book.

Thoughts on the narration

At first I had a hard time getting comfortable with the narrator. So much so that I returned the audio book for a refund the first time. Then I decided, let me just give it another try and give it at least a few hours. Once I did I found I really enjoyed the narration and that Tim Gerard Reynolds has a great narrating voice. I think what originally threw me was that he sounds so mature and older and the main character was 16 at the time while he had the voice of a man. Once I got into the full swing of things I really enjoyed how he voiced all of the various characters.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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18 Responses to “Review: Red Rising and Golden Son by Pierce Brown”

  1. Leeanna @

    Omg, I didn’t know you used to play WoW. But that classic AV comparison is great for Red Rising.

    I somehow stopped reading Golden Son 2 months ago, and never picked it back up. Not that I wasn’t into it, because I was, but… IDK. Maybe I should try it on audio.
    Leeanna @ recently posted…Book Review: Dove Arising by Karen BaoMy Profile

  2. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    It DOES feel like Alterac Valley! And in hindsight I agree . . . rape in Red Rising does feel like it’s used for the shock factor. I’m glad you liked Golden Son even more though . . . and now the wait 😉 Great review, Tabitha!

  3. Mary @ TheBookSwarm

    I have such a hard time when there isn’t fair/equal representation of both sexes in stories, especially SFF. Good to hear that there are more strong women in this second installment (though i’ll probably wait until the series is done to read it — it’s a trilogy, right?).
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