Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3)FeaturedHot
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. Amy and Elder must race to uncover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. But as each new discovery brings more danger, Amy and Elder will have to look inward to the very fabric of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been meaningless.
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.
The cover changes, which have been a topic of debate, are a good example of the lessons learned in this story, like how the inside matters so much more than what's on the outside. This is true of books, humans, clones and other...things.
All of the questions Amy and Elder have surrounding Godspeed, Centauri-Earth, the frozens, even the mission itself are answered in a series of action packed, heart racing twists. Beth Revis is a master world builder and I felt as if I was experiencing all Centauri-Earth has to "offer" right alongside the new colonists. Every one of my senses were engaged and the creep factor hit an all time high as I too, wondered, "What.the.FREX.IS.that?!" *shudders*
What I liked:
One of the things that I've grown to enjoy most about this storyline is Amy and Elder's relationship. I appreciate that it wasn't an instant love-at-first-thaw thing and that Amy has questioned her "options", or lack thereof, while aboard Godspeed. It proves she doesn't take love or a relationship lightly. Elder's patience with her is definitely not the norm and shows a maturity a lot of "human" teenage boys lack. Their "it's complicated" status is a focal point in Shades of Earth and has all the elements that make up a good romance besides swoon worthy kissing, which there is plenty of. But Amy and Elder are no strangers to hope, or devastating loss and are reminded once again that, "...how much you want something doesn't determine whether you get it or not..." *clutches chest*
What I Didn't Like:
"I learned that if someone loves you, he'll wait for you to love him back."
"You come back to me...You do whatever it takes; you come back to me."
I'm not joking when I say this book had me on the edge of my frexing seat! Each time I thought I had it all figured out, some new piece of the puzzle was thrown at me. (There were moments I wasn't sure I'd make it to the end without someone slapping a green Phydus patch on me.) It's always a little sad when a series ends but fans of this trilogy will not be disappointed.
Finally delivering on the character development I had been wanting from Across the Universe, with Shades of Earth I finally fell in love with Amy and Elder. Revis has never shied away from making things difficult for her characters – Amy’s almost rape in Across the Universe, Elder’s thrust into leadership with a population on the verge of mutiny in A Million Suns – but in Shades of Earth, we finally get to see how these experiences have shaped these characters into the young adults they are now. Watching Amy and Elder face each new obstacle head-on and with determination, thinking of what was best for the colony versus what was just best for them, really and truly showed how different they were now versus when we first met them in Across the Universe. And while I enjoyed watching both Amy and Elder grow more comfortable with their relationship, taking it to a level one of them never expected and one of them could only hope for, I admired how easily Revis was able to keep it firmly in the background so as not to overshadow the main issues of survival on this new and dangerous planet, while solving the remaining mysteries Godspeed and Orion had to offer.
But as much as I found myself enjoying these refreshingly developed versions of Amy and Elder, they paled in comparison to my excitement for and enjoyment of Shades of Earths’ plot. Finding themselves on Centauri-Earth brought about even more secrets, dangerous dinosaur-esque monsters and dark shadows in the trees that hinted at something even more sinister laying in wait. As the puzzles of Centauri-Earth piled up and the body count grew higher, Amy and Elder found themselves questioning everything and everyone around them. Why did Godspeeds‘ leaders keep them from landing on this new planet? What did he know about the monsters, and is it possible that he know how to stop them? Why are they finding traces of Phydus on Centauri-Earth, if it was developed on Godspeed? What secrets is Godspeed still hiding? What happened during the centuries that Godspeed just hovered in space? And why does Amy and Elder feel like the monsters they’ve seen aren’t the monsters Orion has warned them against?
SO MANY QUESTIONS! But fear not, because Revis is a master at weaving, and weave she does. Tying up loose threads from Across the Universe and A Million Suns, Revis drops hints that nothing on Centauri-Earth is as it seems – or as we were made to believe – until piece by piece, the truth is uncovered. With Shades of Earth, Revis has ended her trilogy with finesse and style, luring us into a place of relative safety before destroying that illusion, gruesomely killing off several key characters and turning everything we thought we knew about Godspeed, its mission, and Centauri-Earth on its head!
Now, I know Centauri-Earth was like Sol-Earth as far as everyone could tell, but come on now, am I really supposed to expect it has basically the same plant and animal life, not to mention weather? The only noted difference in plant life are the purple flowers and the trees that are mostly similar to Sol-Earth trees with a slight difference in trunk shape. And animals: we have the pteros (but you'll know why I don't count it if you've read it) and some strange half-described stuff in the lake that might've just been a giant squid or something. And of course, there's the aliens, but I'm going to lump them in there with the pteros. I really wanted an imaginative new world, not one I could've thought up myself.
And then there's Amy. She's a strong enough character, but boy was she being stupid. "My, what strange eyes you have." "His eyes are strange." "There's something strange about it, but I'm sure it's fine." Good gosh, can you stop pointing out how strange his eyes are and actually stop and think about it?! Oh, and while your at it, how about you stop flirting with him every chance you get. Maybe it's not intentional, but then again, maybe you should pay a little more attention to how it might look to your boyfriend.
I really wanted to feel more emotion at the ending, but it all jut felt really unnecessary. I mean, if someone had just tried to establish peace I'm pretty sure none of the bad would have happened. And believe me, there were certainly chances to try. But did anybody try? No. Instead there was a lot of unnecessary death.
Now, it wasn't my favorite, but the suspense was good and kept me glued to the pages which is what really redeemed it for me.
The Nutshell: I was disappointed in Centauri-Earth and the unnecessary deaths, but it was worth the read for the suspense and to finish the series.
There were a few things I didn't like. I felt Amy was a little inconsistent. I also got frustrated with her and Elder not just saying what they were thinking or being honest with each other. I wanted Amy to tell her parents that she had been responsible for herself for three months (was it really only that long?) without them and would have also been so if she'd stayed on earth, so they should stop treating her like a child. Some of that was that she didn't think she would ever see them again. Eventually they get through it though, thank goodness. Some things were also never explained, such as why the Phydus patches were taken, how Phydus got into the shuttle, and why the natives chose to do what they did when there were such better or more logical options. I guess I get the why to an extent, but it didn't completely work for me. At least Amy holds them accountable.
I still really loved Amy and Elder's characters! Their relationship is still developing and is strongly challenged by Amy's parents and the things they face on the new planet. I also really liked the rest of the minor characters. Then the whole plot! I just wasn't sure what was going to happen. There were so many surprises and difficulties. I wasn't quite sure if things were going to work out. I could definitely see this one being reenacted on the big screen. I'm sure it would scare me to death in a few spots because things get pretty intense and psychological. Definitely a great ending to the series!
Content: Faux language, one non-descriptive sex scene, violence
Original review posted here.
Like Revis’s first two books, Shades of Earth hinges largely on the fact that those in positions of power are corrupt and that they lie. This is even more the case here, where the earthborn scientists and soldiers are no longer in cryo-sleep and are, generally, fulfilling popular anti-intellectual tropes in YA fiction. Our two narrators, Amy and Elder, stand in as the voices of reason, with the shipborn at their backs. That children and common laborers are portrayed as the sole source of right-mindedness in this book should not go unnoticed.
Plotwise, there’s not too much I can say. Shades of Earth is mostly about exploring the new world, and then getting ready to kill malevolent aliens who are already there. Now-deceased Orion has a few tricks up his sleeve, of course, and in the end everything comes together with a happy ending for all—except the evil scientists, of course.
Most of my dissatisfaction with the book has to do with the final fifty pages—not the final scene so much, as I think cheesy endings are a necessary evil. However, by the end of the book, I had no idea who Amy was as a person. I’ve always respected her as a protagonist, but in the end she was blinded by her own hurt (very realistic, I agree), and ended up refusing to see the other side of things, acting childish, and definitely regressing as far as maturity level goes. I was forced to wonder what I’d ever seen in her.
However, Shades of Earth is still a great book. Beth Revis can definitely write, she has the ability to engage readers and keep them on their toes. I may not agree with the choices she made here, but this book is still successful and I’m happy with how things turned out. It was definitely nice to get all the answers I wanted, and everything came together smoothly.
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.