Book Review – ‘Golden Son’ by Pierce Brown

A solar system at war led by an impostor.

Golden Son Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 442

From the dustjacket:

As a Red, Darrow grew up working in the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labour while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds – and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.

A lamb among the wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love – but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution – and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.

He must live for more.

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While it starts off with an engaging encounter turning everything achieved in ‘Red Rising’ on its head, immediately after, the narrative fell into that long-winded flat tone I found at the beginning of ‘Red Rising.’ The story is interesting but the writing style is not so compelling for me. Pierce can have such a meaningful and succinct turn of phrase that really resonates… and then waffle for pages on mundane happenings. It’s really frustrating to sing his praises when I find times I’m so bored I’d rather wait for my dog to fart for entertainment.

So, after 131 pages, I had to put the book down and walk away. Reading three other novels before returning for a second wind. And then it is all so interesting and so political… but that went hand in hand with wavering engagement. With many long difficult character names (and there are lots of them) and such macabre machinations I only got another 100 pages before I needed another rest. Slow pacing and a dry narrative are killing me!

Golden Son Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe story is great. Complex characters. Political chess playing manoeuvres. Power plays. It has all the ingredients I usually love in a novel but it just didn’t sell me. I found my interest waning a number of times, bogged down with too much detail, too much padding to the main story line in a barren narrative tone. And then, like a switch had been flipped, I was back into it again. It was as if only half of the book really grabbed me and the other half put me to sleep. Talk about polarizing.

I took just under a month to read ‘Golden Son’ and managed to read another eleven novels in between. I’m hoping it was just a second-book-syndrome thing. Because I liked ‘Red Rising’ and can imagine the finale to be explosive. Especially after the hype this series has received. I don’t think I’m all that emotionally invested in the characters, they are all about war and revenge and playing a long game to end oppression. That leaves little room for softness and building trust and love outside the harsh landscape – I guess that’s why I kept putting the book down because it was so hard to digest knowing that they all turn on each other.

My favourite scene was that of Darrow with his mother. It was the first emotional connection I’d gotten to the series – even in comparison to the death of Eo.

Here’s hoping it gets better… I really want to love this series.

Overall feeling: Some really amazing writing – and some that lapsed me into a coma

Golden Son Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Golden Son Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Still Slaying that Series…

In February of 2016 I started a quest to complete all of the series that I had begun (slay that series,) but had yet to finish. I knew I wouldn’t get it all read in that year, so let’s check in to see where I’m at now…
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Of the 18 series I listed last year, I completed 9 – so half way. Not bad. I probably would have read more, but kept getting distracted by new releases. Plus, I tend to not enjoy marathoning books so much, I like variety. Also if you read many series end to end, some details start to feel repetitive as the author usually has to re-introduce you to the world, or summarise the story so far with each instalment of the collection.

But my TBR for slaying that series has also grown. Books which I thought were standalones have turned into many more. And sometimes I could not resist picking up another novel which is a start of another collection… glutton for punishment anyone?

Now my new ‘slay that series’ tally stands at 19. How sad to feel I’ve made no progress staring at that number. But going back I have completed 11 series that weren’t included in this read-a-thon I’d set myself over the year.

So here’s where I’m at (in no particular order):

The Lunar Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Lunar Chronicles by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I kind of stalled with this series, I don’t mind fairytale re-tellings or science fiction, I think after a break away I’ll polish them off in quick succession.

Shadowhunter Universe:

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Slay that Series The Infernal Devices by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Bane Chronicles by Casey Carlisle Slay that Series Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by Casey Carlisle

Slay that Series The Dark Artifices by Casey Carlisle

It’s like when your at a candy store and there’s so many yummy choices that you end up catatonic. Must. Read. So. Good.  I really want to marathon the rest of this series, and I know there will be more to add to my collection, but I’m not letting myself buy any more Shadowhunter goodness until I read the rest of these.

Darkest Minds Trilogy (and Novellas):

Slay that Series Darkest Minds Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Again, another crowd favourite that failed to impress me. An average sort of read, though I’ve only read the first novel, there is plenty left in the series to blow my britches – fingers crossed! Plus with a screen adaptation on it’s way I want to finish off this trilogy before viewing.

The Caster Chronicles:

Slay that Series The Caster Chronicles by Casey Carlisle

I absolutely adored the debut novel, but held off after reading bad reviews for the subsequent installments, but I’m getting that itch again. Maybe I should stop looking novels up on Goodreads and just enjoy the experience as I turn the page – let the words cast their own spell on me… (see what I did there?) Plus there hasn’t been a witchy read in by reading list for years.

Unwind Dystology:

Slay that Series Unwind Dystology by Casey Carlisle

Teens for spare body parts – love it! We were just on the verge of rebellion in the first novel, so I really want to get back into this series. I don’t even remember why I stopped.

Lux Universe:

Slay that Series Lux Universe by Casey Carlisle

Ahh, hot glowy aliens… need I say more? A guilty pleasure with angst, heavy petting, and high school. With two more books just added to my collection I need to get on to it! There are lots of other Jennifer L. Armentrout series waiting for me to sink my teeth into next.

Translucent series:

Slay that Series Translucent Series by Casey Carlisle

A new series I recently got into. Easy, fast sci-fi reads. Invisibility and dark matter. Not the best written series, but a great way to spend an afternoon. I can’t wait to see what Dan Rix will do with these girls… but the final book was published in e-book form over a year ago and I’m still waiting for it to be released in paperback form to complete my collection – so frustrating! Get a move on Mr Rix!!

Deathworks Series:

Slay that Series Deathworks series by Casey Carlisle

A Grim Reaper. A multi-national company of Grim Reapers! And it’s set right here in Brisbane, Australia! Such a great seires by some local talent, took me ages to track down the rest of Trent Jamieson’s books, but now I have them in my hot little hands.. mwah ha ha! (that was my maniacal laugh btw.)

Under The Never Sky Trilogy:

Slay that Series Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

While I haven’t been all that impressed with this trilogy, there is only one novel left – and it’s typically the best one. Looking forward to putting this series behind me.

Fetch Series:

Slay that Series Fetch Series by Casey Carlisle

The second of this series is yet to be released, but I had fun reading about this dystopian world. Not sure if it will remain a duology, or continue expanding, but its fun light reading. And dystopians always remind me of my highschool days for some reason :/

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Collection:

Slay that Series Miss Peregrines Peculiar Children by Casey Carlisle

Heard lots of great things. I was so-so on the first book, but love the mythology. Really keen to see where Ransom Riggs will take as.

The Lady Janies Trilogy:

Slay that Series My Lady Janies Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Scarcasm and hilarity in this historical fiction fancy. Can’t wait to see what they do with other Jane’s from the past. Eagerly waiting for the relese dates to complete the trilogy.

Elemental Series:

Slay that Series Elements Series by Casey Carlisle

Picked up the first book on a whim and sped through it. Along the lines of Jennifer L. Armentroug’s Lux series. A guilty pleasure paranormal romance full of tropes and hot boys. Nice to break up the more heavier reading content.

Red Rising Trilogy:

Slay that Series Red Rising Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Struggling with the writing style of this series, but with only one book to go am determined to finish. Then I’ll decide whether I want to attack Pierce Browns new Iron Gold trilogy in the Red Rising Universe set to start releasing in 2018.

Between the Lines Duology:

Slay that Series Between the Lines Duology by Casey Carlisle

An interesting contemporary, and am curious to see where the story does in the last part of the duology. Fictional characters coming to life – yes please!

Red Queen Collection:

Slay that Series Red Queen Collection by Casey Carlisle

I’m having a love/hate relationship with this series, sometimes I am raving about it, sometimes a bit meh! But just have to wait for one more release in 2018 and we can call it quits. Plus I’d like to see what Victoria Aveyard will write after this series.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy:

Slay that Series A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Really enjoyed the first book, the second I struggled with a bit, but am expecting an explosive thrid installment in true Sarah J Mass Style. I thought it was only going to be a tirlogy, but in the end pages of A Court of Wings and Ruin we are teased with a new realease in 2018 – WTF!

No Ordinary Star Trilogy:

Slay that Series No Ordinary Star Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Wonderful premise, but this is a trilogy that I’d rather poke my eyes out than read, but my OCD won’t let me just drop it – lucky they are short novellas… let’s hope M.C. Frank can turn my opinion around.

Zeroes Trilogy:

Slay that Series Zeroes Trilogy by Casey Carlisle

Such a fun gritty series and incredibly well written to boot. I have the second book ready to go and the third preordered to satisfy my Zeroes lust.

Sidekick Squad:

Slay that Series Sidekick Squad by Casey Carlisle

A new series that has captued my imagination – funny, witty and just enough sass! Not sure how many novels will be released in this seires, but eagerly waiting for ‘Not Your Villain’ out in October this year.

The Illuminae Files:

Slay that Series The Illuminae Files by Casey Carlisle

Hurry up May 2018! Have been having a blast reading this series and hope it continues with its masterful tragectory. Who hopes this is more than a trilogy too?

Children of Eden:

Slay that Series Children of Eden by Casey Carlisle

Children of Eden’ was a bit of a surpise for me, and I got toatally invested in the story. Let’s see if Joey Graceffa can keep it going with the next book due for release in October this year.

Warm Bodies:

Slay that Series Warm Bodies by Casey Carlisle

Two short stories and a trilogy from our all-around favourite zombie, R. Love Isaac Marion’s writing and eager to complete this collection and find out how the world recovers from a zombie apocalypse. Hopefully all the books will be released by the end of 2017.

Tales From Foster High:

Slay that Series Tales From Foster High by Casey Carlisle

Something about the topical writing with gay main characters struggling through high school (and much adversity) has wormed its way into my heart. I think I’m committed to see this series through to the end – another one of my guilty pleasures. It’s like finding out what happens after the fairy-tale ends…

The Girl With All The Gifts:

Slay that Series The Girl With All The Gifts by Casey Carlisle

Upon first reading ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ I didn’t totally love this series – but it grew on me, and am excited to see what new discoveries about the zombie-like world can be made in the sequel…

 

That leaves 66 books left to read to finish off all the series listed here – so it’s definitely going to take me longer than a year to read them all – especially given I like to sprinkle in stand-alones, new releases, and am making my way through Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler’s back catalogue. Plus some of the titles above have not been released yet, or not confirmed as complete, so this list will continue to evolve and change… but hey, I’m not adverse to adding more books to my TBR. It keeps me excited.

What series are you determined to finish of this year? Got any opinions on any of the books listed above? Your works might just push a book to the top of the pile…

In the meantime – happy reading 🙂

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Red Rising’ by Pierce Brown

Being a Martian is difficult.

Red Rising Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 382

From Goodreads:

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

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 already 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.

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I’ve owned ‘Red Rising’ (well, the whole trilogy) for a while, but have only just started reading it after a number of rave book reviews popping up on my feed to remind me why I bought this collection in the first place. While an amazing story, at the beginning I was resistant to the narrative. There is a lot of information to process, and the writing style feels dry, or sparse, making it hard to connect with our protagonist, Darrow. ‘Red Rising’ read like an institutionalised Lord of the Flies on a futuristic Mars. Brutal.

Darrow is a complex protagonist, but there is something hinted at in the narrative, at to how his destiny is shaped the way it is, but not revealed. I think this is a major part that stopped me from truly connecting with him. The novel is full of puppet masters pulling strings – and Darrow is ultimately just another pawn. I never felt his motivations and actions were truly his own. But I love an underdog story, someone fighting against insurmountable odds, so I was invested in his story though not truly convinced by his convictions.

Red Rising Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The friendships formed – especially in the school, were barbarous and endearing. I see it in my best friend and his buddies that were in the S.A.S. together, there is a certain type of connection that is formed on the battlefield that nothing can break, and others will not truly understand. Piece Brown captured that comradery perfectly.

There are a few things about the society and its technology that puzzle me in the face of human nature. Such as the role carvers (doctors) play and how malleable the body, and its genetics can be. They are truly playing God… and from the hierarchy and accounts of the ruling factions they pretty much are, but this aspect did not seem to be explored as far as I think it would be naturally with such a powerful instrument to play with.

The politics, however is an intricate web and blindsided me on a number of occasions. I think this, and the battle scenes are the best parts of the novel.

I may have rated ‘Red Rising’ higher, because it is truly a tremendous tale, but if not for my issues connecting with the writing style, and near boredom through two thirds of the novel. But aside from that, it is a magnificent book that others may find outstanding. The writing style was sparse, dry, distinctly masculine. Even though the protagonist is male, something about the narrative made it difficult for me to immerse myself into the Martian landscape. I was frequently putting the book down for a rest or lack of interest. The last third of the novel, however, is an entirely different creature. The pacing is gripping, and so is the plot with all its twists and turns. The cast start to show their true colours and get tested… I was truly riveted and could not put the book down. The only thing that kept my persistence in the beginning was that I had heard so many wonderful things from friends about this series and kept telling myself that it will get better… any time now… any time… and finally it did.

I think there is so much to set up for this series to work, the world building, the motivations, the politics, that it takes some time to get its legs. That didn’t bode well for this debut, but promises that the following two books in this trilogy should be amazing. That’s what I am hoping for anyway.

The main purpose of ‘Red Rising’ is easily predictable – it has to be to continue on to the second and third in the series, but the journey there was not. There were some minor points that I had been spoiled from my friends, but they confirmed what I thought as I was reading, but did not detract from the enjoyment near the end. I still got shocked and horrified. It’s a great story, but because of the issues I had with the writing style, did not get emotionally invested. Had I been sucked in, I think ‘Red Rising’ would have brought all the feels.

On a side note, I found elements of this society synonymous to that of the Japanese yaoi ‘Ai No Kusabi’ (minus the sexual nature of the anime.) This book has also been optioned to be turned into a movie. I’d be interested to see how this series will be treated… maybe it will fix the issues of pacing because there wouldn’t be the need for pages and pages of explanations. And I can just imagine the special effects! No news has come through on the development of this project as yet, but I am certainly keeping my eyes peeled. Additionally, Pierce Brown is starting a new series in this universe, with the first novel ‘Iron Gold’ due for release in January 2018. It’s all so exciting!

I think I’ll reserve judgement on whether or not I’d recommend this novel until I’ve finished the trilogy because there are so many unexplained elements that worried my brow…

Overall feeling: Huh?…. OH! *lightbulb*

Red Rising Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

 

Red Rising Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.