Stop whatever you are doing and go read Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Seriously, it’s that good.
My rating + review for each of the 3 books:
Red Rising – 5 Stars
The first 5-10% of the book is a little bit slow, and the “worldbuilding” elements (new words, terms, new races of humans) were a bit much for me, but not enough to bother me. Also, the first person present tense was very new for me, and took a bit of time to get used to. Then BAM, the story takes hold and never lets go. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with such superb pacing. It has been quite some time since I’ve loved a book enough to lose A LOT of sleep to read it.
Pros: Incredible pacing; distinct, meaningful characters; simple yet sufficient worldbuilding; awesome premise; thematic parallels; complex yet understandable plot that both entertained in the moment and set up the next books nicely.
Cons: It didn’t bother me, but some people will dislike this book/series because of its obvious similarities to Hunger Games. They are really, really obvious at times during book 1. And you know what? I liked the book even better for showing that its not necessarily a mind blowingly unique premise that makes a book awesome, it’s the execution.
Golden Son – 5 Stars
The sequel is very, VERY good. One of the best sequels I’ve ever read, probably. And to be so consistently awesome with his pacing, Brown had to start somewhere he could launch right into the next portion of the conflict that mattered. I thought it worked extremely well, and I was sucked into this book immediately.
If there is any weakness to this book, it’s that the character relationships that weren’t “on screen” for the first several scenes felt neglected. Particularly the primary romance sub plot. Overall though, it was incredible. I lost a ton of sleep to this book as well.
Morning Star – 5 Stars
By the third book, the frequent plot twists pulled off by the character started to become routine. Brown kills off just enough beloved characters off that you worry a bit about who is next, but by the third book you are pretty sure it’s not going to be any of the characters that the author has fallen in love with himself. I like happy endings as much as the next guy, so I can’t complain too much.
The friends turned villains theme didn’t work as well as I wanted it to: the outcome of the MC’s conflict with the “bads” could have been a lot more satisfying with a little more build-up. I get that the author is going for a realistic interpretation of how a group of friends torn apart by conflicting ideologies would/could act in war, but something about the Roque/Cassius storylines just felt… too sudden.
The pacing took a hit in the third book. It was still better paced than almost any other book out there. But the break-neck speed of the other books took a back seat at times to longer descriptions or exposition from the MC than I was used to.
I’m being overly critical, I think. Not because I didn’t love the book, but because I’m trying to understand my own reactions to it. Compared to other books, this is an easy 5 stars. Compared to the other books in this series, I would probably give it a 4.9.
This was a spectacular ending. As a writer trying to work toward a satisying end to a story myself, I have a new-found appreciation for just how hard it is to do what Brown has done with the last book in his trilogy. It wraps up every meaningful plot thread wonderfully. Every important character sees a satisfying end of one sort or another. The action scenes are probably the best I’ve ever read. The internal monologue/voice, clarity of prose, and consistency is nearly flawless.
These are books that inspire me to write. The kind that drag you along for the ride whether you like it or not. These books stick with you, consume you, perhaps even change you in some small way.
Thank you, Pierce Brown. You talented bastard.