I’ve had Things to Say about trilogies. Mostly, that I think they’re becoming overused and frankly unnecessary. Why split up a story that can be easily told in one book? Beth Revis’s Across the Universe is not one of those trilogies. While the first book was excellent and can largely stand on its own, A Million Suns is a fantastic follow-up that’s as every bit as good as the original novel and brings a new eye to the original universe.Picking up three months after the end of Across the Universe, the first thing that grabbed me was the different atmosphere on board Godspeed. Everything’s not hunky-dory and happy; the freedom that Elder gave its residents from Phydus doesn’t lead to a perfect utopia. There’s massive conflict, as well as grumblings of mutiny and revolution from the residents. I love that there’s no right or wrong answer to the situation—Elder could be a good leader, but then there’s a case for a strong democracy on the ship. And then there’s those who believe that having freedom means that they can do just about anything. Add to the increasing paranoia with the “follow the leader” slogan, and the political atmosphere is just as fraught with danger as the increasing idea that the ship is dead in the water. Amy and Elder have one of the better written relationships that I’ve read. They care for one another, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily lovey-dovey or codependent. They get frustrated, they mess up, and hurt one another’s feelings. I love that they don’t have all the answers to the situation, and the more that they uncover, the more it strains their relationship. But they’re left to figure things out on their own, and just try to make the best of their situation.The thing I love about Amy is that she’s a lot stronger than she initially appears. There are moments where she doubts herself or feels weak, but she manages to overcome those moments. (Especially when she has to confront Luthe.) One of her big internal struggles in this is trying not to forget her old life and Earth, and I love how subtly Revis works this in. I love that while Amy does like some aspects of being on Godspeed, she doesn’t like the claustrophobic sensation that she knows that she’s just on a spaceship. I loved the opening of her narration, with looking at her parents’ frozen bodies. And again, I like that her reasons for wanting to change things aren’t generally accepted by everyone else, including Elder. I like that she has to reconcile her personal feelings with the rest of the residents.There was a maturity and frustration that made me like Elder more in this book. Obviously, this is the first we’ve seen him assume his duties as ship leader, and I liked that it’s illustrated that he’s really not prepared for the decisions made in the previous installment. I like that he has to deal with the idea that maybe putting the ship back on drugs is a good idea, at least to avoid crisis, and that he has to constantly struggle with that temptation. There’s also the fact that he’s now going up against people he once considered friends, and I liked that we see Elder break down from all of the stress. If there’s one thing that I would have liked to see more of in this, it’s the expanded cast. I loved the inclusion of the Shipper crew—their loyalty may have been a little too one-note. But I like the different personalities in the crew and their approaches to fixing the engine problem. I did like Bartie, who’s presented as the opposition leader, if mainly because he’s not treated like a horrible person for wanting to overthrow Elder. (I would have liked a little more expansion into his backstory and friendship with Elder, though.) Victria seems like she’s going to start off as a bitchy foil to Amy, but I liked their growing friendship and respect, especially when you discover what happened to her. And her reasons for not liking Amy make sense too. [spoilers removed] I liked the addition of the nurse’s aide, Kit, and I want to see more of her in the next book. The revelation of who’s behind the new set of deaths does come out of left field, but it makes sense taking parts of the first book into context.And the plot and writing just keeps you hooked. A lesser writer would use the alternating narration as cheap way to put in cliffhangers, but Revis manages it so that you keep wanting to read what’s going to happen with both Amy and Elder as different threads are revealed. It’s never written as repeating information, either. There’s several big reveals in this that had me keep guessing about what’s going to happen next. And the ending sets up the third book with a big question, but it doesn’t feel like the book just ends with no resolution. This is another one of those series that I find fantastic and it’s well-written, and it’s imaginative, and while it’s got strong support and reviews, it doesn’t have the popularity that it deserves. It’s a YA romance that defies the expectations found in so many other books, and the sci-fi backdrop isn’t as intimidating as most people think. It’s suspenseful without resorting to cheap gimmicks, the world-building is great, and the cliffhangers linger in the reader’s mind, without copping out on a big question. I highly recommend reading the whole series, and I cannot wait for Shades of Earth to come out.