What I Loved:
Beth Revis' Across the Universe trilogy is a real rarity, because it is one of those series that gets better as it goes along. A Million Suns improved greatly on Across the Universe, and Shades of Earth blows both of them out of the water. The epic conclusion includes more action, more twists, more betrayal, and explains all of the questions that the first two books raised.
In a lot of dystopian series, authors fail to complete their world building. They mention things, but never explain them. They throw in monsters for exciting action sequences, but never come up with any valid reason for the existence of these creatures. Revis wraps her series up neatly, and makes sure to tie up all of the plot threads. I applaud her for how well she's done this.
Finally landed on the planet, the tension and the terror step up a notch. The landing on the planet is everything I hoped for and more. For whatever reason, the redesigned cover for this reminded me of Jurassic Park, and I desperately wanted a dinosaur or two, and Revis delivered. Remember, she explains this. On top of that, she also includes way more drama, violence and mystery than I could possibly have anticipated. The pace moves much faster than the prior books, since there is a whole, hostile world to explore.
Amy and Elder remain consistent in characterization, but now have a whole new cast of characters to keep them company. Now that they're arrived on Centauri-Earth, Amy's parents and all of the other scientists and military personnel are awake. This creates a power struggle and leads to social tensions, as neither group (shipborns and earthborns) trusts or respects the other. In addition, one of the new cast members is Chris, a twenty-year-old soldier with an interest in Amy. Usually, I do not approve of love triangles, but Revis definitely did this right; Amy and Elder's relationship needs this real life test, because they never really had any other options. Revis deftly introduces a large group of characters without overwhelming the reader.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Amy and Elder's first person narration blend too much for me. Throughout the series this has been an issue. They really just do not sound that different, and, when they're in the same location, I encounter difficulties remembering which one is currently narrating, even though the chapters are only a couple of pages long. These books would benefit from Elder and Amy having more unique voices, especially since their incredibly disparate upbringings would really make that a given.
As epic and intense as Shades of Earth is, with a startling death toll and a lot of haunting scenes, the ending is too optimistic. In the last couple of chapters, things sort themselves out a bit too neatly. I would have preferred a darker, more classic dystopian ending.
The Final Verdict:
Small weaknesses aside, Beth Revis' Across the Universe trilogy is powerful and well-done. I recommend it highly to dystopian fans, particularly those who can handle a slower pace. I will be eagerly anticipating what Revis does now that this series has ended.