If medieval sword fights, space battles, and the oppressed rising to take their freedom from their genetically enhanced overlords doesn’t pique your interest in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, then you can see yourself out, my not-friend. Morning Star, the third and final book in this genre-bending tale came out on February 9th. If you’re a fan, you’re now bloodydamn happy. You should be even if you haven’t read the first two books: you won’t have to wait to devour the whole trilogy like the rest of us red plebeians did.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – another dystopian trilogy set on Mars with epic space explosions, eight-foot tall warrior women, and a teenager who endures excruciating, bone-peeling surgeries to infiltrate his genetically superior oppressors and free his people from the inside; what’s in it for me? Reread your question. Answered! But that isn’t the only reason. Brown captures a kinetic, intimate, and compelling voice as Darrow, our hero, tells his story in first-person. It’s seriously some of the best first-person I’ve ever read. There is no cheating here. No using the “I” narrative to drag the reader along in an otherwise humdrum tale. From the inciting incident in Red Rising, where Brown gives readers the sniffles in the first few pages, to the finale in Morning Star, where he has us cheering in our seats, Red Rising is everything a good story should be. To top it off, this world is populated by so many diverse characters – women, LGBTQ, people of color – in active, both heroic and antagonistic, roles, it is never just Darrow’s story. There is something for everyone in this naturally-flowing narrative that never takes itself too seriously.
Morning Star was written quickly, and that energy is present throughout the book. Sometimes it manifests as missing two-letter words, like “on” and “in”, sometimes as favorite descriptors that appear a little too frequently, like “glassy eyes.” But the story itself is still so compelling that I didn’t mind – and I’m on the grammar police payroll. I consumed this book in three days. It was fantastic and I’m sad to say goodbye to the Red Rising world. I will definitely be on the look-out for whatever Brown does next.
Sarah Parker-Lee has written copy for non-profits fighting injustice all over the interwebs, currently writes & edits at SCBWI’s CA Tri-Regional blog “Kite Tales,” and is finishing her own YA alternate history novel. Her new humor blog – “Dogs and Zombies: A Dog’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” – should be shambling towards your tasty brains in Spring 2016. Find her twitterings here: @SarahSoNovel and here: @abolitionhwd.