The Godspeed has finally landed, but not without difficulty. Once on land, Elder, Amy and Company realize that Centauri-Earth is much more hostile than they were expecting. Immediately they are attacked by one of the strange creatures that calls this planet home. Not a very warm welcome. Of course, the frozens must be defrosted now, including Amy’s parents. Her father is the highest ranking official on board and tries to assume role as leader, but Elder is willing to stand up to him for his people. This causes a very strong divide between the shipborns and the Earthborns. The tensions get even higher when the colonists are mysterious picked off one by one.
I love Centauri-Earth! It’s the best thing about Shades of Earth. It’s beautiful and dangerous. The basic structure is similar to Sol-Earth, but sometimes the most beautiful flower can be the most deadly. There’s a heavy sense of fear as the people leave the ship, since everything is unknown. What plants are edible? What kinds of predators are there? Is the water clean? We only get to experience a few of the interesting creatures and I really wish there had been more. That would have slowed down the plot too much though.
The plot is super fast paced just like the previous two, but it felt really repetitive in places. Amy and Elder almost always have to go against the military’s orders, and they discover something, but Amy’s dad won’t listen to a pair of teenagers, so they run off again to do more sleuthing. If you thought they were done with all of Orion’s clues, think again! Nothing is what it seems on Centauri-Earth. I had my theories, which were all mostly wrong. I had one little thing right, but it didn’t even compare to the bigger picture. Actually, the big reveal is kind of a giant info dump that spans a few chapters. It was information overload.
Now for the weakest link of the book: Amy and Elder’s romance. It’s probably one of the worst romances I have ever read in YA. I just don’t buy it. I miss the Amy who stood up and told Elder that they don’t have to be together just because they’re the only teens around and are in an emotionally charged situation. Now she can’t seem to stop grabbing him for make-out sessions. There is absolutely no chemistry between them! I would have much preferred if the romance had been one-sided with Elder pining after Amy and her wanting to just be friends, at least for now. Then there’s an added love triangle, which was the lamest addition to the series ever. I don’t think the author’s strength lies in writing romances. It was just awful.
I did like Shades of Earth. It answered all of the billions of questions that popped up in Across the Universe and A Million Suns, but something just didn’t work for me. It felt like there were too many twists and turns that were unnecessary (Amy even points one out at the end!) and the climax was an info-dump. It still has the addictiveness of the other two books, but it just kind of fizzled at the end. I do like how the ending wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The people of Centauri-Earth are going to continue to face many more complications. We just won’t be witnessing them.