Posted in Monthly Wrap Up

February Wrap-Up, meeting Pierce Brown, and a growing gif obsession

Ahh, February. I like February. Did you know the devil walked through Devon during the night on February 8th 1855? Did you? I bet you didn’t.

Ok, so it probably wasn’t the devil. BUT! The cloven footprints found in the snow were weird and didn’t stop for walls, buildings, hedges. They just walked over any obstacle.

I mean, there’s probably a rational explanation for it, but because I’m twisted I like imagining the worst, along with the mass panic and hysteria that would have come with it.

giphy (16) Continue reading “February Wrap-Up, meeting Pierce Brown, and a growing gif obsession”

Posted in Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Best Books of 2015

This wasn’t easy- trying to whittle it down to just ten? I put a constraint on it; they all have to be 2015 releases, or gawd I would have been here through New Year trying to decide.

So here goes, my top ten! In no particular order… (quotes taken from my reviews of the titles, click the links to read them in full)

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday – Best Books of 2015”

Posted in Fashionably Late Reviews :)

ARC: Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

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I won a proof copy of this book from Hodderscape and it was like Christmas had come early.

I have championed Red Rising all year, having read it waaaay back in January 2014 as an eGalley. And I knew then, I just knew, that this was going to be an epic series, and if it didn’t receive the recognition it deserved then there was something gorydamn wrong with the world.

What I find most engaging about Golden Son, is the acute attention to detail. It follows on from Red Rising, seemlessly jumping ahead in time and it doesn’t feel like I’ve missed out. The politics become more complicated, the scheming, the plotting… it’s complex. And yet, it’s so easy to fall into Darrow’s world.

Brown does this really clever thing throughout Golden Son where certain facts about a motive or a plan are kept hidden from the reader until the revealing moment and it’s like ‘ooooh dayum!’ There was plenty of opportunities to click my fingers throughout this book. Snap!

My copy may have been a proof, but the writing was slick. Yeah, I noticed some teeny tiny grammatical things, but I’m certain they would have been picked up on the final sweep, true?

I really enjoyed the character progressions in Golden Son. Each one seems to be on a different personal journey- as in, the ‘supporting cast’ don’t feel like they are ‘secondary’ to the action. We may be following Darrow, but it’s clear he’s not the only one with a destiny to fulfill.

For instance:

Mustang – I have to mention her first because she’s badass. As a character she manages to be both hard and soft. She’s curvy and sharp. Muscular and squishy. And clever. So, so clever.  I really felt for her. There aren’t many female characters that we get as close to like Mustang, so I found myself clinging to her more. And she doesn’t have an easy time of it. I mean, hell, she loves Darrow… And that’s only going to lead to tears and heartache.

Sevro – The slimy little shit. Ha ha! Another character I hold dear. He’s a little rough around the edges, and I like how he’s sorta carved his own place in the system, with his Howlers. But then we see him, in glimpses, as the small boy he still is. Inside at least. And those moments made me ache.

Roque – Actually, there are no words. I have no words for this character. Only tears.

The Jackel – Don’t trust him, they say. Don’t trust him. Do NOT trust him. And yet we the reader, along with Darrow, shrug it off and think that it’ll all be fine. He’s not so bad, is he? He’s helping. What’s the worse that he can do, eh? I think Darrow can’t NOT trust. Regardless of what Darrow says and feels of himself, I can’t help but feel like Darrow’s biggest flaw (and asset) is that he wants to see the best in people. Always. And that can lead to questionable trust in quetionable people.

Sophocles – Heh heh. THE best literary invention.

Ragnar – The new dude on the block. I couldn’t help but imagine him looking like a Dementor. A badass ninja Dementor, with less of the face suck. He does a real solid for Darrow.

Darrow – His journey through this book is painful. It has moments of beauty and moments of horror. The decisions he has to make, the weight of a nation on his shoulders, his heart on his sleeve (while trying hard to keep it hidden) and all the while trying to reconcile his Gold and Red self. I think he manages this… It’s just a question of whether those he loves the most will reach the same kind of solution in the future?

The ending to this book is explosive. I have a heart of stone… But if I were a cryer, it’s safe to say I would have been blubbering like a baby. Mostly because it ends at such a pivotal moment! I was left feeling seriously shell shocked. So much happens in those last pages…

Intelligent, compelling writing. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking. It doesn’t fail to entertain. Easily the best book I read in 2014.

5 out of 5. Without a doubt. Perfection.

Posted in Fashionably Late Reviews :)

Review – Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown (released 28th January 2014) Received as an ARC; words, paraphrases etc, may not reflect the published version.

“The war begins…

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable – and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda…”

I’m taking a slightly different tact with this one. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see why I’ve changed my approach. I rarely give a book the top whack, but this deserved it for so many reasons.

An analogy always works well in these situations, so let’s see what I can make Red Rising comparable to.

If you take Orwell’s 1984, Martin’s Game of Thrones and then rub it against Atwood’s Oryx and Crake then maybe..

No.

That’s not it.

I don’t think there is a comparison. There are plenty of glimmers of my favourite SF and fantasy authors, but nothing can truly compare (and don’t you dare say ‘Hunger Games’ or I will have to come and poke you with a sharp stick). It’s just different. And I love that.

Notable Characters (for me):

Main Character – Darrow – It took me a while to latch on to him. In the beginning I was more interested in Eo, and then the Sons of Ares, and then the Golds. For me, there is something about the grit and the earthy strength (or should that be ‘marsy?) in Darrow that immediately made me think of Cale from The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman. But he grew on me, very much.

Eo – God. She will haunt me forever methinks. I dare you not to be affected by her role in this story.

Mustang – I loved her from the moment she appeared on the page. She has an attractive aura- the way she moves, speaks and acts. I want to be her BFF.

Sevro – The Goblin. You can’t not love this little scamp. He’s rude. He’s rough. And he’s effective. You want him on your side, because if he’s not? Hell, lock the doors. Tight.

The characterisation is so authentic. I could have listed each and every individual here and have something to say about them. Memorable, touchable characters. The kinds that you feel could walk into the room at any moment and you would recognise them.

World Building and Setting:

The mines – It was a slightly shaky start for me. I was confused at first, and I found the setting (while well described) hard to hold as a concrete image. There wasn’t enough ‘how’ in the first instance, but I was quickly overtaken by the character’s journey to be too bothered.

Yorkton – Out of the mines and I think this is where the narrative starts to show real flair.

The Institute – Again, the narrative comes on leaps and bounds here. Once Darrow gets to the institute, man alive, does this book get good!

Doubleplusgood – I was sceptical at first, of the compounds Brown creates, much like Orwell in 1984. Language, as a destructive force, is not the focus here however, it is more to show the power of the word. There are some great passages near the end that capture this perfectly. It is (de)evolution of man and of the world (solar system?). Language will be Darrow’s gorydamn downfall, I fear.

gravBoots, gorywell, medBots. Etc. Once my brain got over the shock (because it doesn’t like ‘new’ at first) it assimilated some of it into everyday usage. I now proudly use the various exclamations in RL.

Morals and Philosophy

What I thought was most interesting was the way Brown uses the classical teachings against each other. At one point Roque points out that Darrow used one philosopher to argue another (as it is an ARC copy, I didn’t want to directly quote it, but I’ll post it later).

The ‘game’ (of thrones) to become Primus teaches the Golds about humanity. Lessons about ruthlessness, survival, leadership, justice, war, diplomacy. Everything is applicable. As long as we are human, demi-gods or not, these are lessons we all learn to a certain extent.

Love, Love, Love

Brown didn’t forget his softer side.

Darrow is a calloused character. And he sure has his reasons for being the way he is around potential friends, and love interests. But he is also, irrevocably, human. And humans will love. It was sweet to see Darrow soften slowly. To see those first glimmers of (new) romance in him, as well as the blossoming relationships between the others, was such a pleasure to experience.

___

This book consumed me. Intelligently written, it is a story bursting with vibrant characters and action.

For the first time on Behind on Books, I’m giving out a 1. The highest rating possible. (see rating system)

Highly resonant, confident, and original. Brown has a narrative style and voice that I can easily identify with and enjoy. I highly recommend reading Red Rising, as I read somewhere recently (sorry! I forgot to save the page, let me know if this was you) this book is a game changer.

Quite simply one the best books I have read for quite some time.