Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Book Review)

Morning Star (Red Rising, #3)Morning Star by Pierce Brown

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This review contains spoilers for Red Rising and Golden Son

Book synopsis:
The Helldiver of Lykos was carved a Gold and thrown into the wolves to take the Society down as an insider. After succeeding at the Institute, Darrow is taken under Nero au Augustuses wing. His star burns bright until a ship-to-ship combat at the Academy proves him unworthy of his legend. Everyone is turned against him and Darrow has only one choice, set the Society in chaos. But betrayal is a constant threat that causes many of Darrow’s friends to be killed or captured. Darrow’s identity is discovered and he finds himself a prisoner of Jackal, naked, afraid and alone. All hope is lost, everything is dark.


Morning Star is the third and final volume in the Red Rising trilogy and was recently voted the winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Science Fiction of 2016. The Red Rising trilogy will be followed by the Iron Gold series with the first book coming out in August of 2017. This third book starts a few months after Darrow’s capture at the end of Golden Son. A good series is marked by a great ending novel. I was not worried about being disappointed with Morning Star as I was told that this is the best one of the three. True enough, it did not disappoint.

“This is always how the story would end,” he says to me. “Not with your screams. Not with your rage. But with your silence.”

p1050083_fotorProbably the most exciting aspect of the third novel is the element of expansion that Pierce Brown brings to the game. While in his first novel, Red Rising, we stayed in Mars and specifically at the Institute, here we are taking an interplanetary voyage. From moons to asteroids and from one planet to the other, Pierce Brown is finally taking advantage of humanity’s massive advancement as a conquering species of the universe. Not only in terms of the environmental vastness but also by introducing many well-composed space battles. Honestly, this story would have been an excellent video game. But, although the world building and epicness factor are present, the plot itself follows a very specific order of events: politics – someone dies – joking around before battle – battle – politics -… and so on. For an author that presents a great, epic story, this repetition is a handicap.

I would have thought there to be worse fates than this, but now I know there are none. Man is no island. We need those who love us. We need those who hate us. We need others to tether us to life, to give us a reason to live, to feel. All I have is the darkness. Sometimes I scream. Sometimes I laugh during the night, during the day. Who knows now?

p1050080_fotorSpeaking of the plot, I have to commend on Brown’s idea of the story as a whole, now that I reached the end. A world in which humans have broken the DNA mysteries and are able to selectively breed people to enhance certain abilities and hinder others is a terrifying scenario that could very well be true in the distant future. The color system of the society itself and the implications of the fall of democracy make up a brilliant dystopian setting. Certainly, interplanetary travel but also life on other planets and orbiting moons is also a very real possibility. The science fiction plot is very well executed and makes up for a truly enjoyable story. At the same time, Pierce Brown manages to avoid overwhelming his readers by refraining from presenting too many new technologies and terms. This, to me, suggests that he choses to stay somewhere between the realm of YA and adult science fiction which is a bad call and shows throughout the novel.

Warm blood trickles down my forehead from old scabs, now freshly broken. It drips off my nose. I extend my tongue, probing the cold stone till I find the drops. Savor the salt, the Martian iron. Slowly. Slowly. Let the novelty of sensation last. Let the flavor linger and remind me I am a man. A Red of Lykos. A Helldiver.

p1050082_fotorI have criticised Pierce Brown before on the choice of Darrow as a main character and his personality as a whole. Looking back, I see how having Darrow as a protagonist works and, even though he annoyed me way too much, he makes for a realistic portrait of a desperate man with many character flaws. Thankfully, there is a considerable shift of focus in the last novel away from Darrow and towards more interesting and likeable characters. One more questionable aspect of the story for me were the female characters. Throughout his books, women have been given a very cold and distant persona. We never really get to see a warm female character and even Mustang seems inaccessible. Still, Pierce Brown clearly shows female power with the Sovereign being a lady and the most dangerous person in the worlds being – again – a lady and the leader of the Obsidians being…a lady. Strong women and men are undeniably a huge part of the story but weak women are rarely seen in the story. Was a male author comprehensive about making women seem weak? I have to wonder.

Tears leak from my eyes, not from the pain, but from the casualness of his cruelty. It makes me feel so small. Why does it take so little for him to hurt me so much?

I would now like to briefly discuss one thing that really threw me off in both Morning Star and Golden Son and that is mistakes. By that I mean, actual errors of facts or wrong language use. Specifically, in both books, Brown refers diminutively to people who chose to not follow the color hierarchy as simple Homo Sapiens. Unless I’m mistaken he is trying to refer to our species, today’s modern human which is not Homo Sapiens, but Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Moreover, he makes reference of a cause of death being cerebral anorexia. This is ridiculous as there is no such thing. Apparently both author and editors though anorexia is the same as anoxia. It might seem that I’m nit-picking minute details but to me this is what makes a book great. Lastly, the romance is very limited in this last book which is not a bad thing at all, but any attempts at romantic relationship building by Pierce Brown turned out awkward and honestly, rather standard and mainstream.

Per aspera ad astra

Overall, this was a very fun, action-packed series filled to the brim with twists and turns. Morning Star is as good a book as its predecessors and offers a great ending to an entertaining and exciting series of politics, intrigue and war. I’m eagerly awaiting for the next book that continues the saga to return to the wonderful world of Gold dominion and see where Pierce Brown takes us on the next adventure hopefully deciding to stick to the adult elements and abandon the YA bits for better storytelling.


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