Actual rating : 9/10
Morning Star is a praiseworthy finale to the first Red Rising trilogy! It had it all: heart-crashing scenes, fast, unpredictable plot, a world ever expanding and incredibly well developed and touching characters.
“In war, men lose what makes them great. Their creativity. Their wisdom. Their joy. All that’s left is their utility.”
There was a rare intensity to this series. Something in the writing and in the atmosphere that keeps sucking you up, entirely. And then, when you close the books for the time being, it throws you back into a blander reality, fearing for some character, laughing at some absurd banter or crying your heart out for a failed mission or a lost fight. The plot went in unexpected directions and the actions scenes were incredible, interspersed with space battles (fewer than in GS!), military tactics, politics, diplomatic parleys and inflamed speeches.
The tension was ceaseless and almost unbearable. The ever-present sense of danger will keep you turning the pages (even though you’re supposed to go back to work or just call it a night), expecting a dagger (or in this case, a razor!) in the back at any moment. The temptation to look at the end of some chapters was real, believe me!!
Break the chains!
Amazing fanart by phantomrin
The characters were extremely well shaped (despite the story being told solely from Darrow’s POV) and Brown managed to give them all a certain closure, despite the series not being over yet. I finally warmed up to Darrow in Morning star. I absolutely loved the development he underwent throughout the series, and especially in this book. Darrow was no hero, but no anti-hero either. He was too complex to fit in either category. I loved his introspection and the fact that he took the time to really put things in perspective and understand why he did the things he did and the way he did them. His is a hard, tortuous path, one demanding sacrifices and questionable decisions and I loved the way he embraced that destiny. Here was a character more real, more dedicated and more driven than a lot of people I know in real life!
“I thought being a man was having control. Being the master and commander of your own destiny. How could any boy know that freedom is lost the moment you become a man. Things start to count. To press in. Constricting slowly, inevitably, creating a cage of inconveniences and duties and deadlines and failed plans and lost friends.”
In essence, this book was about friendship and family, about the strength and determination and motivation they breathe into us. Brown emphasized the good through the bad and the corrupted: He celebrated hope when all was dark and hopeless and he celebrated friendship and love, though betrayal was an ever present theme. What makes this series so beautiful and impactful for me, is that Pierce Brown embedded powerful themes and messages into it, besides the epic scope and glorious battles.
“Everything is cracked, everything is stained except the fragile moments that hang crystalline in time and make life worth living.”
Lastly, I need to insist on a point I didn’t discuss up to now. THIS IS NOT YA! If this is labeled YA, I think we shouldn’t bother with content rating anymore (Please check my friend Mischenko’s interesting discussion about YA and content rating on her fantastic blog)!! What with the gruesome deaths and dark themes (rape, torture, mutilation, cannibalism…) it featured, this series is definitely not suited to a young audience.
The Red Rising series was one of my most anticipated reads this year. And the ride was oh so worth the wait!! I’m no Sci-Fi reader, and I don’t think I’ll dive into this genre much in the future. But this series is definitely a must read (I already started hassling my friends and family over giving it a shot)! Because of its vivid, real characters. Because of its dark and thought-provoking themes and messages. And because of the intense emotions it will arouse in you!
Review by Haïfa.
Red in September, 2017.