Speaking of steps up, I liked A Million Suns better than its predecessor. I know lots of people will judge me when I say this, but I was bored through the first half of Across the Universe. For a while there, it came close to being a DNF. I put it down for a while, came back to it, and then enjoyed it. With A Million Suns, there was no boredom. I was totally caught up in the book from the beginning to the end. I thought this one had much more consistent action and less of Amy whining about the, admittedly unfortunate, situation in which she has found herself. Don't you just love when a series doesn't peak with book one?
In fact, now that Amy is somewhat resigned to her fate here on Godspeed, I found her a much stronger, more likable character. She's still grumpier than the average heroine, but is down to a level that I can stand reading about. It helps, too, that she has a purpose now, in the form of a mystery to solve. Of course, it also helps that the other characters are more interesting now too, since they're off of Phydus. There's more life in this book.
While I'm talking about Amy, I also want to discuss the romance between Elder and Amy. I was expecting it to be cheesy and awful, because that's one of the aspects I barely remember about the first book. Thankfully, though, Amy actually has the kind of attitude towards romance that I always hope to see from YA books. To get the gist, see my favorite quote at the bottom. Also, I totally loved that, though the romance was here, it was not at all the main focus. The most important thing was saving the ship and its people in whatever way necessary.
At the end of Across the Universe, power-hungry Eldest died and insane Orion was frozen. Now Eldest (Elder in the last book has now taken over the title, though I will call him Elder for the rest of the review for clarity's sake) is leading Godspeed. However, his youth, inexperience and kindness all run against him. So, too, does his desire to keep the ship off of Phydus. Without it, people have minds and opinions, and they're extra pissed off because they now know what was happening to them for generations. Elder helped them by removing it, but he's also the representative for why they were turned into brainless sheep. Some are mad because they were ever drugged, others are mad because they want Phydus back, but they're all mad.
Elder wants to focus on the important thing: fixing the ship and finishing the mission. The Shippers (those responsible for ship maintenance) tell him they can't fix the engine, because they're too busy keeping the ship in working order otherwise. This was one of the things that didn't make sense. The Shippers don't have time to work on the engine, yet, when Elder decides he needs a police force to help get the population under control, they volunteer. I thought they were busy? Shouldn't he choose people who don't need to be, you know, making sure the bits of metal keeping you from death in space don't FALL APART.
Elder tries really hard, poor dear. He does. Honestly, though, I'm kind of on the side of the people considering revolution. He has his heart and intentions in the right place, but I don't feel like he really knows what he's doing. Then again, Elder has never been my favorite hero. He's a bit stodgy most of the time; it's hard to fathom how he was such good friends with Harley and the rest.
I really loved the plot line with Orion and the clues he left behind for Amy. Having a task made Amy more fun. He hid a bunch of clues in literary references, so that was awesome. Plus, I got to see a different side of him than I ever had before. The problem here is that this Orion seems fairly stable. I mean, a little bit crazy, but he sure seems incredibly smart and as though he has plans. Elder would never have figured all of that stuff out on his own. Maybe it's because I read the first book two years ago, but I felt like it wouldn't be that bad if Orion were to be the leader of the ship. Yes, he killed people, but Eldest drugged them and he didn't really get hatred for that.
In all honesty, I don't know why these books are not more popular. This series ought to have the fandom that Divergent has: they're accessible, but much better written and plotted. I am super stoked about Shades of Earth in a few months, guys! I feel like it might be EVEN BETTER.