Book Report: Red Rising + Golden Son

A New Year means time for new reads to line your shelves, your to read pile, and your mind. While one of these titles was actually released in 2014, its sequel, Golden Son, was one of the first buzzy books out of the gate for 2015. Pierce Brown Red Rising Golden SonWhat’s The Buzz?: Pierce Brown was one of THE Young Adult authors to watch out for in 2014. His debut novel, Red Rising, was released to great fanfare in January, and that oh-so-coveted label of ‘the next Hunger Games’ was deftly applied by critics and reviewers alike. The series hasn’t quite reached a fever pitch just yet, but the launch of the second book in the series, Golden Son, the first week of January reignited the hype. Interestingly it feels that the series has captured the attention of adult sci-fi fans, moreso than your average YA novel audience.

What’s the Plot of Red Rising?: As I read Red Rising in early 2014, I found myself super surprised – standard sci-fi this is not. Here’s the one-sentence plot: a daring drilling expert named Darrow, who belongs to the lowest colour-coded colony in the galaxy, the Reds, seeks to avenge his wife’s wrongful death by masquerading as one of the society’s highest colours, the Golds. Sounds relatively straightforward…only you have to consider being inducted into Brown’s hyper-detailed and expansive world (nay, galaxy). And the fact that Darrow’s way of infiltrating the Golds involves him attending the Institute, a Gold training ground that’s sort of like a Medieval Hunger Games – but lasts an entire year. Darrow, well in disguise as a perfectly ‘carved’ Gold, must find a way to survive this brutal, bloody battle to victory, all the while gaining the trust of his ‘fellow’ Golds and making an impression on the galactic Lords that could take him under their wing. It’s an interesting blend of the far future meets the distant past as Darrow and his compatriots try to figure out how to capture the other forts they’re pitted up against – and maybe even change the game altogether.

What’s the Plot of Golden Son?: Slight spoiler alert – but I mean…obviously Darrow survives the first book, otherwise we wouldn’t have a trilogy on our hands. I won’t spoil how he fares at the Institute, but I’ll mention that Golden Son picks up very briefly, very shortly after the first one ends. From there, it fast forwards a few years, and that’s where this book is garnering a strong adult following, as Darrow is no longer a teenager. He’s been attending the Academy, sort of a post-graduate school for Golds, in an attempt to establish himself as a worthy leader of a galactic fleet of ships (war is big, natch). He’s also restless, as instructions on how to further the Red uprising have been literally non-existent as he bides his time amongst the Golds. However, as the opening scenes in Golden Son demonstrate, a change of fate for Darrow causes him to take the lessons he learned at the Institute and apply them to the greater world – only the stakes are much higher, the relationships are much more complicated, and the double and triple crosses are mind-boggling.

What’s the Difference Between Book 1 & Book 2?: Like with The Hunger Games, Golden Son is an extension of Book 1. I can see where people draw lines between the two series, as both of the first books are largely focused on a game of survival, whereas the second books are about applying whatever wiles helped them in the first one adapt to the real world. To that end, I actually think Golden Son is the stronger of the two books in the Red Rising trilogy to date. The whole time Darrow was at the Institute, I was curious about how it would feed into his attempts to lead a hazy revolution outside the game’s walls. The second book seriously delivers in terms of ramping up the action and keeping you guessing beyond your wildest guesses. I can’t remember the last time I read a book that was so speedily plotted – a TON of the elements in Golden Son are what other authors would probably hold back until the third book in their trilogy. The most positive compliment I can give Golden Son is that it is NOT a weak bridge between a beginning and end, but really, it dives deep into the meat of the story – reconciling book one, setting up book three, and packing in plenty of action and excitement in the middle.

Who Should Read These Books?: Well, if you want to be in on one of the purported Next Big Things, then now would be a good time to dive into this inventive series. And if you did like The Hunger Games, then the comparisons are fair – although the story and hero and galactic setting definitely separate the two by miles and miles. But the thrills and twists are just as plentiful. For the record, it also reminded me a touch of Ender’s Game, for fans of the sci fi classic.

Of course, I’ve got a copy of both of these fab titles for one lucky reader to dive into as we hunker down for the next few potentially frosty weeks. Want to win them? Here’s how to enter:

1) First & foremost: you must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then, tell me in the comments below by February 7, 2015 – why are you interested in reading Red Rising & Golden Son?

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around February 8, 2014 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Follow Random House of Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to read this pulse-pounding series! Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.

5) Bonus Entry #2: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below in a separate comment to earn yourself another bonus entry.

62 Responses to “Book Report: Red Rising + Golden Son”
  1. dorcontest says:

    I subscribe by email. I would love to read these because your review has me hooked. Perfect cold winter to relax and read in the morning with my coffee.
    Doreen Lamoureux
    dorcontest at gmail dot com

  2. Aimee says:

    Winter is the best time to get into a new series

  3. Joan G. says:

    Nothing like a good book for the cold winter nights.

  4. neednewspace says:

    I have had one eye on Red Rising since it came out last year. I haven’t yet picked it up because I tend to be a bit of a series “binge-reader”. I hate waiting! I will definitely read this trilogy and now I may just have to pick it up sooner rather than later! Thanks for the review! (I follow via email & WordPress.)

  5. Lindsey says:

    I loved the Hunger Games so would like to try this series!

  6. mousecat says:

    I’d like to win and read these books! Your review sounds interesting but I’ll likely wait til the last book in the trilogy comes out. I like to read these kind one right after the other!

  7. mousecat says:

    Here is my goodreads to-read list (# 87 and 88);

  8. Jennifer Deol says:

    I’m interested in reading both of these books because I find that the YA genre has interesting ideas, colorful worlds or realities that are described in ways that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the “what if” state of mind. I am also a fan of “other worlds” and having a book span a galaxy is too tempting to resist (I have a love of, “Star Wars” and, “Star Trek”). I love books that allow my imagination to run wild with possibilities and make me feel young,

  9. I’ve wanted to read Red Rising for ages because it sounds like a fascinating study of class systems in a dystopian setting.

  10. Anne Derkat says:

    I haven’t read any sci-fi in years and these sound like a good place to start again.

  11. janicour says:

    Looks like a really good Sci-Fi thriller. I have heard the second book is even better than the first!!

  12. janicour says:

  13. Susan Patterson says:

    I really enjoyed the Hunger Games, so I’m sure I will enjoy Red Rising and Golden Sun – thanks!

  14. Kelly says:

    I enjoyed the Hunger Games, and other YA dystopian/futuristic novels like it, so i’m sure Red Rising would interest me!

  15. Debra says:

    I’m a voracious reader and always on the lookout for new authors/stories. Will enjoy these immensely I’m sure if they are as good as you’ve reviewed and compared to the Hunger Games.

  16. cookie3 says:

    Your review makes these sound super interesting , so that’s why I’d like to read them.

  17. Golden Son is one of my most anticipated reads for this year. I really enjoyed Red Rising, so I can’t wait to see where Darrow’s story goes from there!

  18. GARRY S says:


  19. Chantelle says:

    I am interested in reading this series because I love reading all series. I love how you can become invested in the characters and feel how you are part of the story and really get to know who they are. I’m always sad when I finish a series

  20. cheryl mclellan says:

    Sounds like a great read!

  21. Evren Ay says:

    It would be great to read something different, my husband also loves reading, he would appreciate this!

  22. intensev5 says:

    I loved reading The Hunger Games so I think I would love reading these books.

  23. Shelley N says:

    I am interested in reading them since I loved the Hunger Games series but most importantly I would love to win this since my 2 teenage sons would really like these books.

  24. jasmyth says:

    I subscribe to votec Red Rising as the debut novel of 2014. Since then it has been on my list to read. I like science fiction and books that are different from the norm and this one sounds really interesting!

  25. Darlene Boyle says:

    love books that are series

  26. Tracy says:

    I am interested because I am a avid reader -I read everything -and love most of it 🙂

  27. dabrowne says:

    I read a lot in the winter, so a series is perfect to look forward tol

  28. Mary Warner says:

    Love Sci-Fi!

  29. truckerofbc says:

    I am interested in reading Red Rising

  30. Love reading new series and this sounds great! Will prob be made into a movie down the road i imagine so i want to get a heads up!

  31. Karen says:

    My husband loves books like this, I would give the first one to him and then I would read it.

  32. Lisa Morrison says:

    I would love to give these books to my daughter who is a voracious reader.

  33. Susan T. says:

    I have heard so much about Red Rising. I’m a huge YA reader and love sci-fi so I don’t know why I haven’t picked it up yet! Now that Golden Son is out I have no excuse not to start this series before I get left behind on the next big thing!

  34. aly3360 says:

    I’d love to read them because the books sounds exciting and interesting. I loove sci – fi and i feel like i could eat these books right up.

  35. Jessica Lord says:

    i would like a new series to read for the winter

  36. Shelley N says:

    good reads (#772 -I have a lot more books I want to read than have read!)

  37. Megan Young says:

    I’d like to read Red Rising!

  38. Rob S says:

    Reading is very enjoyable. This series sounds very interesting!

  39. I would like to read both of these books they look intriguing to read!

  40. Caelin W says:

    Loved the Hunger Games, and looking for a great new read.

  41. Audrey Skinner says:

    The story lines look great so would love to read.

  42. Darlene Boyle says:

    like books that are written as a series

  43. andrea4444 says:

    I loved the Hunger Games. These sound fantastic!

  44. roseformom says:

    My daughter and I both loved the hunger game novels, and from what I have read in your review the novels Red Rising/ Golden son would make the best next set of novels to read together at night 🙂
    Already a subscriber love your blogs

  45. Grace says:

    I’d love to give this book a read! I really enjoy sci-fi thrillers with these types of story lines.

  46. Maegan Morin says:

    You know Im not usually a huge fan of sci fi but I have heard nothing but rave reviews about this series so I guess im gonna have to cave to peer pressure and read it lol.

  47. aarone mawdsley says:

    I subscribe my email. i would love to win!

  48. Rachel Cartwright says:

    I would like to read these books because I just finished a great novel and I don’t know what to read next – these sound exciting!

  49. Heather Arnould says:

    I love sci-fi and the premise of these books sounds amazing. Would love to have them for my winter hibernation.

  50. Angela Mitchell says:

    I’ve heard so many great things about these books. I’m a huge fan of Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games so I definitely interested.

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