Golden Son is the second book in the Red Rising Trilogy, and chronicles Darrow’s life after the Institute as he works towards achieving his rebel/terrorist goals of bringing down society as he knows it. Not surprisingly, he progresses towards his goals but also suffers sufficient setbacks to make the fight going into the third book seem more challenging than ever. Basically: this book sure is a second book in a trilogy. Yup.
This book was probably better than Red Rising, but I liked it less. It’s still a little overwritten, and so many new characters are introduced that I had trouble keeping them all straight. Nearly all of the characters who survived the first book turn up in the second, but some of them were given so little screen time in the first that I had little memory of or connection with them, making it feel like the text was peppered with random names I was supposed to feel invested in but didn’t. Red Rising had more heart, and I was more interested in the character’s personalities and fates, largely because the stakes for Darrow’s survival were so high. In Golden Son, he felt a lot more replaceable, such that if he failed or died, the rebel movement wouldn’t be completely screwed like it would have had he died at the Institute. RR was also a little more fun and unfamiliar rather than the space battle/opera thing happening here that I just wasn’t all that interested in. I found myself skimming large sections of the battles because I honestly didn’t care what happened, and was fairly confident that they would come out well in the end. I was usually right.
melanirobison commented on my review of RR with her frustrations regarding the fridging, which also bothered me in that book. Somehow, it’s back, and WORSE, in GS, which made me so angry I almost quit halfway through. I pushed through, but so did Darrow – he’s unbelievably upset by the new fridging when it’s revealed, and then it rarely comes up again in the remainder of the book. Largely there’s only the one lady who spends the book(s) in the fridge, and the female characters are otherwise a little better done by in GS, but all the same I was pretty frustrated.
The book ends on an enormous cliffhanger that made many people excited in the third book, but I found myself kind of exasperated and uninterested. The ending severs so many connections with the books up to that point that there’s no way to predict where the story will go, and while that’s supposed to make you excited for what comes next, it mostly made me feel like it didn’t matter. I’ll probably still read the last one, because I have a serious completionist streak and/or a real problem, but I’m not nearly as interested as I was going into Golden Son.