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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3) - Beth Revis To be upfront about this: As a whole, I really do like the Across the Universe trilogy. There’s a lot of things that are interesting about it, I like the characters and a lot of the ideas Revis does with in-universe, and I like the settings. That said. While I think Book 1 &2 are fantastic (though not without their problems), for every great beginning and middle, the end can go one of two ways: either capping off the series fantastically, or massively drop the ball. And while there’s some good things about Shades of Earth, it did feel like Revis fumbled on this. It’s not a bad book and it is engaging—given how fast I managed to plow through it—but I had a lot of problems with the characters and their motivations.For starters, I did like that this didn’t have the big reveal I was expecting (that the Centauri-Earth they were landing on was going to end up being Sol-Earth the entire time). I liked that we did get to see the fallout and consequences from Orion’s murders way back in book 1, and while I don’t think the concept was fully explored, I liked that it was acknowledged that people were dead and their friends and colleagues had to deal with that. (The callbacks and payoffs in this book were actually handled really well, and I liked that even small details came up to play a role in the final book.) I really liked how Revis handled the Godspeed’s citizens first time out of a controlled environment and dealing with relatively minor occurrences such as a major thunderstorm. I loved meeting the frozen crew members (EMMA!)and their interactions with the crew of Godspeed even though most of them ended up becoming redshirts. Despite the eventual fakeout, the fact that Revis managed to fool me into thinking that she killed off Elder was a surprise. It’s something that would be fairly unthinkable in a lot of today’s YA, and while I’m not entirely happy with the outcome, I give her points for even considering killing off a love interest and dealing with Amy’s initial reaction. The overall problem with Shades of Earth was that it felt too rushed, and thus, a lot of the characterization and plot didn’t get as much development as the previous volumes. Both Across the Universe and A Million Suns drew out their plots and acclimated the reader into this closed-off world and really getting into Amy’s and Elder’s respective state of mind. Here, there’s not as much of that great characterization. There are some really good character moments with Elder, as he’s struggling to be recognized as a leader and a member of the new colony, but is continuously pushed away by Amy’s father and the other unfrozen crew members. I liked that Elder was remembering Orion’s warnings, but it also seemed he was trying to reach a compromise with Colonel Martin as to how their respective factions would live together. Amy’s a lot more single-minded in this volume, though, to some points where I wanted to reach in and tell her to chill. But some of her actions do make a lot of sense—for example, after crash-landing on Centauri-Earth, she immediately goes to Elder and says “Okay we’re here! Can we wake up my parents can we?” And even though she’s ignoring the clearly more important situation of trying to help out everyone injured in the crash landing, it’s understandable that Amy would want to wake up her parents. We’ve seen her nearly lose hope that she’s never going to see them again; of course, she’s going to want to be reunited with her parents as soon as possible. If anything, Amy’s relationship with her mother was really well done; first of all, there was a pay-off on how Amy would recognize certain modification material and showing that she has done lab work with her mother. (Also, I do love characters who love their SCIENCE.) Amy’s father, on the other hand, is one of the reasons why I didn’t really like this book. I get that he would be overwhelmed when on waking up after five hundred or so years, that not only were his two superior officers were dead and his daughter was hanging around; but that the only people in charge were Amy and this other kid. However, that doesn’t excuse about half of the things he does. Colonel Martin completely ignores Elder’s concerns for the people of Godspeed (and thus fulfilling Orion’s fears about what would happen whenever they landed) and never stops to consider that something went wrong on the Godspeed and he ought to be figuring out what happened. AND THEN CHRIS. WOW. Why in the hell would you say to a hostile “Oh, you’ve just attacked us because you think we’re from the people who ruined your society? HERE TAKE A FREE UNIFORM.” I…what. Just what. And for that matter, the fact that Julianna and Emma both die because of this makes me wonder why Colonel Martin is even fit for command. I understand that everyone coming from Godspeed, including the unfrozens, barely had any idea of what was on Centauri-Earth. But if the majority of people on this mission are top military officials and this is how they respond to a hostile environment, I’m shocked that they lasted this long.And Chris. I’m actually happy that Amy makes it very clear to Chris that while she would like to be friends with him, she’s in love with Elder and nothing’s going to change her mind. (I loved the scene after Chris stabs Amy with the gen-mod material, expecting her to fall into his arms. And Amy shuts him down cold. Bless. ) However, he felt so obvious that there was something up with him—the repeated popping in and out of the jungle did not help—and that the only other reason he seemed to exist was for a love triangle to rear its ugly head.And can we talk about the original Centauri-Earth colonists and the FRX, please? I do have to say that I liked that Amy realizes that yes, there could be technology that made a faster ship by the time the original probe scans were sent back to Sol-Earth. I liked that, it was a nice exploration on real world technology and musing on how far it can go in the future. However, I didn’t like that we never saw the rogue colonists, aside from Chris, at all. We get a few times of them sneaking around trees and the one scene where they attack the new colony. I never got the sense of danger from them (actually, I kept saying “It’s the Others! Unleash the smoke monster!” as I was reading this) and I never got the sense that they had a tragic backstory and reasons for distrusting the new colony.The FRX, specifically as the overall villains, do not work for me. What I liked about Orion as an antagonist was that he had very specific goals and fears—he felt that killing the frozens was justified. Eldest wasn’t as good of a villain (one of the things I didn’t like about Across the Universe), but it made sense in order to set up a lot of the conflict for book 2. The FRX, however, come off as way more cartoonish than Eldest ever did. First, if the FRX are a multi-national corporation, how the hell are they operating by using slave labor? None of the rogues have attempted to establish contact with Sol-Earth at all? Because I’m fairly certain that even in the deep reaches of space, the Geneva Convention would still be considered legal. (Is it bad that I want a sequel story wherein Amy reveals everything and the FRX gets shut down? Because that felt like a more logical ending than the one I got.) And though I’ve been praising the number of small details set up in the prior two books, this is where Revis does drop the ball. It feels way too convenient that the Elder system and the loss of the files on Godspeed were to hide the reveal: that the system was enacted because the first Captain didn’t want to bow to the FRX. In the first two books, it did feel like things had became twisted over the centuries, and no one was keeping proper records. Here, it feels obviously convenient and a bit of an asspull.The ending as a whole—I am going to sound like a horrible person, but I felt that it either needed to be one less chapter, or that there needed to be another chapter. If Revis had ended it with Amy forcefully telling the rogues and the FRX her terms for having her people stay on this planet and with Elder dead, I would have praised her for that ending and the balls to kill off the love interest. If there had been another chapter, a few months after Amy finding Elder alive, explaining how things are progressing, I would have liked that while times might be hard, at least everything’s settled for Amy and Elder. But the ending feels cheap and rushed, and I don’t have a lot of closure. Shades of Earth feels like a rushed early draft that needed a few kinks worked out. There are some really good things in it, but there’s not a lot of set-up nor satisfactory follow-through. There is a very compelling story and mystery here, much like the first two books, but the pacing is so quick that none of the revelations are allowed to settle in the reader’s mind. Most of the new new characters didn’t last long enough to make a lasting impression on me (KIIIIIIIIIT! EMMMMMAAAA!) and their deaths felt like cheap emotional reactions at times. (Particularly Amy’s mom. I know that sometimes you need to kill someone to get the main characters to act, but I really didn’t like Amy’s mom dying.) To be entirely fair, my three stars is reflective of the series as a whole. I do recommend the Across the Universe trilogy as a good YA sci-fi (particularly for being sci-fi and not a dystopic romance, despite some of the dystopia overtones in the first book). And Shades of Earth does succeed in wrapping up Amy and Elder’s story, although I would argue that there are a lot of trailing story threads at the end of it. But compared to the earlier books, especially A Million Suns, I don’t think the final installment works as well as it could have been.