Golden Son by Pierce Brown (Red Rising)

The second book in the story of Darrow, a liberated mine worker who has infiltrated the highest military ranks of the ruling class governing the colonized universe.

I was scared that Golden Son was going to get bogged down and disappoint me. Red Rising was such a knockout of a series opener and my expectations were high. I should have reread the first book before diving into Golden Son, because Brown doesn’t waste any time on exposition. It’s a good move, but I was scrambling to piece together my memory of the first book, and some of the secondary characters weren’t totally fresh in my mind.

The politics of this series are intense and complicated and smart, on a level with the machinations and intrigue in Game of Thrones. While the story might be pigeonholed as another Hunger Games redux, book 2 leaves YA dystopia squarely behind in favor of a long game with lofty narrative aspirations.

And as if that weren’t enough of a rave–the characters here are rock solid, deep, and eminently human. The complicated relationships offer ample opportunity for the characters to surprise the reader, and the suspense generated by these emotional time bombs adds heft and power to the narrative.

And the ending–oh, I truly can’t take it. It’s a perfect cliffhanger and I’m ready to know what’s next.

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