CGG Book Club: Morning Star

I am so pleased that so many of you enjoyed my inaugural CGG Book Club post last month. I’ve got a couple more fun book club posts coming soon, so stay tuned and check out what I’ve been diving into lately.

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
If you follow books at all this is sort of the book right now. Although it just hit shelves at the beginning of January, this heart-wrenching memoir has quickly shot up the charts. It tells the story of a young neurosurgeon who, at the cusp of graduating and moving forward with his life, was hit with a deadly cancer diagnosis: lung cancer, the type only 0.001% of the population gets at his age, the type that will kill him in an unspecified period of time. The book traces Paul’s life – his pursuit of a medical career, his interest in the mind and its connection to life and death, his marriage and its genuine struggles – followed by his shaky yet determined march toward death.

I can’t speak as to why this books is connecting to so many people so hard, but I suspect it has something to do with the brutal frankness Dr. Kalanithi provides throughout. It gave me perspective as a patient, it made me sad as a human, and I also found this new type of empathy regarding the realities of the life of a doctor that I think we all take for granted. It’s the type of book I feel you could read a dozen times (for it’s beautifully written, densely packed; Paul often considered a career in literature as opposed to science) and get something new from each time. I’d just hope you wouldn’t cry at the end, each and every time you consume it – because make no mistake, this one will break your heart, even as you know going into it what it’s about.

Morning Star Pierce Brown

I’ve had a few really good reading experiences this year already, which is all any book lover could ask for right? One of those thrills came from the release of the last entry in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. So let’s dance, shall we?

What’s the Buzz?: The buzz is Pierce Brown’s ‘space opera’ has finally come to an (initial) conclusion. The series – which every critic, myself included, will tell you – has been quite underrated to date, but I’m pleased to say it’s worth your time now that all three books are out. If anything, I’d actually recommend starting the series now, because there is a HUGE cast of characters (Game of Thrones style) and the story is best consumed in a shorter timeframe.

What’s the Plot?: Needless to say, if you don’t want to be spoiled at all because you haven’t even heard of this series, you may want to skip this paragraph. But I’ll take it back to the beginning for some context. In a nutshell, space has been conquered by humanity, and we have been divided into different ‘classes’ of people by colour (which also seems to tie into our physical appearance – I’ve admittedly always been a touch fuzzy on that). The society is run by the almighty Golds, which are basically synonymous with Gods in this context; beautiful, brutal people that enjoy lavish lifestyles and are reminiscent of Roman warriors in their desire to battle and win. Darrow, when we first meet him, is the lowest of them all: a Red, living underground on Mars and being lied to about life on the surface. A series of events puts Darrow above the surface and in disguise as a Gold, where he attends the Institute, a brutal boarding school of sorts where Gold children prove their mettle (and earned the book its Hunger Games comparisons).

After proving himself at the Institute, Darrow continued to infiltrate Gold society, but without a clear purpose or direction from the rebels he was supposedly working for. A series of missteps put him in a precarious position at the beginning of the final book, although as you may anticipate, he finds a way out of it. The thrust of Morning Star is to finish the mission set out for Darrow in the first book: to end the Golds’ iron rule over their society and unite the people. To do so means waging a war against people with far more power and resources than Darrow – at least, far more types of resources that Golds value. Can Darrow accomplish this seemingly impossible task and get him and his friends out alive? Can he mend the bridges between him and those he’s hurt most deeply?

What You Need To Know: I’d heard going into Morning Star that the ending might be polarizing, which in turn, had me pretty panicked throughout the book. While Pierce Brown is adept at creating the most wholly fleshed out space society (and battle scenes) since Star Wars, he’s also pretty talented at creating characters you really care about. I found myself increasingly distraught as I headed toward the final quarter of the book, realizing not only how much I cared for Darrow and didn’t want to see him meet his end, but also how much I didn’t want the series to end. The neat thing is – and this isn’t a spoiler – is I think Brown has ended the series in a way that invites future instalments, if he should desire. I for one would be all for it, which isn’t necessarily something I would have said when I first encountered the series a few years back.

Who It’s For: It’s probably worth noting that Red Rising, while originally marketed as more of a (yet another) YA trilogy, really doesn’t fit that mould anymore. Darrow and his friends are in their early 20s at this point, and the level of violence / some of the subject matter feels more adult in nature. So, if you’re tempted to write Morning Star off as a book for teens – don’t. The series has earned love by wannabe space pirates, fanboys, and people of all ages for its gripping narrative and expansive world building. He’s great at setting up crazy twists and make your heart jump out of your chest – and many of the characters are witty and wonderful and memorable (Sevro, most notably). While it does have shimmers of similarity to other properties – the aforementioned Hunger Games and Star Wars for example – the series is just a cool sci-fi read that promotes some good values about friendship, owning up to your mistakes, not idealizing people, and when to accept your fate versus when to challenge it.

After reading Morning Star I was curious as to when it’d ever get a film version. There’s enough content in any one of these books (moreso the second and third) to warrant a season or two of a TV show, so while I’d wish for it to be made into one, it appears that instead, the author and some screenwriters are taking their sweet time with developing a worthy script. In the meantime, get ahead of the curve – if the eventual film adaptation is anything as dynamic as the books (and my goodness it’d be amazing to finally see all of Brown’s creations in visual form), you’ve got a lot to look forward to! Plus, there’s talks of him writing a spin-off series to boot.

Red Rising Trilogy

Finally, I have the entire Red Rising trilogy for one lucky reader of mine (and reader in general) to nab and devour. Sound prime? 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 March 28, 2016 – why are you interested in reading the Red Rising trilogy? Have you heard of the series before?

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 March 29, 2016 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 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.

55 Responses to “CGG Book Club: Morning Star”
  1. I liked the girl withe dragon tattoo series so this might be for me

  2. G.P. says:

    After Girl with dragon tattoo, reading these is in

  3. Aimee says:

    I am a subscriber
    I haven’t heard of this series before, but I’m interested in reading it.

  4. doreen lamoureux says:

    I subscribe by email already 🙂 🙂
    I have not heard of this series but thanks to you….. I know all about it. I am very interested in reading this series. Sounds very captivating.
    dorcontest at gmail dot com

  5. Susan says:

    I have never heard of this trilogy before. I think my niece would love this series!

  6. Norma D says:

    I have never heard of this series before, but I believe I could really enjoy and get lost in such a series. In addition I know my daughters would love it.

  7. Audrey Skinner says:

    I have never heard of this series but now I am intrigued by what you have posted.

  8. Kavita says:

    I have heard a lot about the Red Rising trilogy and it has been on my to-read list for a while now! I love sci-fi/fantasy YA books, and these books immediately caught my attention when I read the synopsis. I would love to get the chance to read these books!

  9. Kim K says:

    I haven’t heard of this series before but love to read.

  10. Kavita says:

  11. Kavita says:

    The book is #75 on my to-read shelf on goodreads.

  12. Maryanne says:

    I haven’t read this series but it looks interesting and I am looking for more fiction to read.

  13. Joan G. says:

    I have not heard of the trilogy but your brief review has sparked my interest.

  14. Heather Swanson says:

    have not of this series it looks intriguing

  15. Lindsey says:

    I have never heard of this series, but I am always looking for a new series to start!

  16. edmontonjb says:

    I am not personally interested in this trilogy but would love to win them for my 16 year old who is very into this sort of book.


  17. Janice says:

    I loved Red Rising! I wasn’t too sure at the beginning because it started slow and was setting the scene so you could understand what was going on in the book. Once it got going though I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. I didn’t get a chance to read the second book but would love to win the whole series!!

  18. Dwayne Taylor says:

    I think this would be great…..never read them before and it is nice to have all 3 at once so you don’t have to wait for the next one to come out 🙂 …. and yes i am a subscriber …. thanks so much 🙂

  19. debbie f says:

    I am a reader and have heard about this trilogy and would love the chance to read them. I have heard that it is comparable to The Hunger Games but different and original.

  20. Shannon says:

    I’ve only recently heard of this author and I’d love to read the trilogy. Sounds great!

  21. katydidit21 says:

    I’ve never heard of the series before but I would love to read it because I love to read a variety of genres.

  22. intensev5 says:

    I have never heard about the series before but I would love to read it. They sound like a great read!

  23. I haven’t heard of this series but sound interesting, and I would love to read the trilogy!

  24. I would love to read it because reading series is my favorite, it makes the story last a little longer

  25. Gigi says:

    I haven’t heard of this series but both my daughter and I love to read and this sounds interesting!

  26. CLC says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of the series. I’m always interested in stretching beyond my genre comfort range and this series sounds captivating.

  27. aly3360 says:

    I’m a subscriber to your blog. I’ve never heard of the Red Rising trilogy before, but I am always looking for new books and new authors to read. I love trilogies and book series because then I don’t have to say goodbye to characters I like too soon!!

  28. Julia H says:

    Already a subscriber. I want to read them because I’m a fantasy book fan!

  29. kim says:

    This sounds like an interesting series.

  30. Holly says:

    I have never heard of it but it does sound interesting! I like series.

  31. Kim Scobie says:

    I hadn’t heard of this series, but I really love a good space opera!

  32. cookie3 says:

    I’ve not heard of this series before but your review has got me interested.

  33. Mary Jaglowitz says:

    I am an avid reader and would like to read this series.

  34. DebP says:

    I haven’t heard of this series before, but I like the genre and I’m in need of a new book fix, so I would really liketo win.

  35. AliKira says:

    I really love coming of age stories and this seems to fit the bill.

  36. Daniela Plume says:

    I’m always looking for new books to read. This looks great. Thanks for the review AND the spoiler alert.

  37. diane says:

    I have not heard of the series but it sounds so entertaining.

  38. Jessica Lord says:

    I haven’t heard of the series before – I think it would be something that my husband would like to read

  39. Shelley N says:

    My son and husband just love this series. I have started the Red Rising one and so far it is great. No need to enter me into the contest for this as we have all 3 books. Wanted to say that I saw your previous post on this series which led me to get the first book for them. thanks for pointing it out.

  40. KELLY E says:

    I would love to read this series I have heard people talk about it so I have heard about it.

  41. DARYL MOAD says:


  42. Debra says:

    Love books and a series is great for really enjoying the characters. I’d like to read this new set.

  43. Angela Mitchell says:

    I’ve heard of this series before but I haven’t read it. I’ve heard good things about it from several different people — I’m looking forward to reading it.


  45. Kelly H says:

    I haven’t heard much about this series, but I’m definitely interested in reading them now!

  46. carrie l says:

    I am interested in winning it to gift it to a friend who is into this kind of series!

  47. saraontario says:

    First time I heard of the series. Love sci-fi.

  48. Lisa S says:

    I haven’t heard of this series before but am excited to check it out. I am just finishing power reading the first five Game of Thrones books and loved them much more than I thought I would especially the wide cast of characters. Maybe space is the next journey for me!

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  1. […] entry into my Red Rising giveaway – tell me in the comments below, which of these fun wooden puzzles would you like to […]

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