Monday, March 31, 2014

March Series of the Month: Across The Universe Trilogy

Hey, y'all! So, I planned to read a little more than I did this month, but I got through a total of 4 books, so I averaged about a book per week, so that's not bad! Anyway, I'm not going to talk about the other book I read this month- I'll save it for a post where I talk about any of the standalone books I've read. In the meantime, though, you can always check out my Goodreads account by clicking HERE. You can see what books I've been reading and get a sneak peek of my reviews before my blog posts go up. You can also friend me on there, if you'd like!

Warning: I'm going to talk about spoilers in this post. I'll probably get into spoilers later in each book's review, but I'll try to make a note of it when I'm about to spoil something.

Across The Universe

First off, let's just all take a moment to appreciate this gorgeous cover. This may be my favorite cover of any book ever, and I don't even like pink. It's that pretty. 

Across The Universe is told from the POVs of our two main characters, Amy and Elder. The book opens in the year 2036. Seventeen-year-old Amy and her parents are among the 100 people who are going on a mission to this new planet that has been discovered, which supposedly is able to sustain human life. However, they aren't going to be passengers on this spaceship. They are going to be cryogenically frozen for the 300 year trek to the new planet. When the ship reaches the new planet, they are going to be un-frozen and will explore this new planet. Both of Amy's parents are essential to the trip- her father is a high ranking military officer, and her mother is an important scientist. Amy is not essential to the trip, but decides to go along with them.

We're then introduced to Elder. It's now approximately 50 years before the ship is set to land on the new planet, named Centauri-Earth by the ship-borns. At sixteen, Elder is the future leader of the ship and apprentice to Eldest. Elder is frustrated with his training, and begins to get into things Eldest doesn't want him to find. It's then that Elder discovers all of the cryogenically frozen people. Previously, he didn't even know they were on the ship. 

Shortly after this, someone opens Amy's chamber, causing her to wake up long before she was supposed to. The doctor is unable to re-freeze her, so she has to adjust to a completely new life on the spaceship Godspeed. However, soon after Amy wakes up, other frozen people begin to be pulled from their chambers. Amy and Elder have to team up to discover who is trying to kill all of these people.

Before I jump into the spoilery section of my review, I just want to give my overall opinion about the book. When I first finished it, I honestly wasn't sure how I felt about it. On one hand, I really enjoyed the book and loved the world, but on the other, I thought it was mostly predictable and felt like I was just on the surface of all of the events rather than immersed in them. Eventually, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. 

OK, now onto the spoilery part of this. If you haven't read Across The Universe, STOP READING THIS. Go read the book, and then come back and read my opinions about Across The Universe.

I'm going to be focusing most of this on how I feel about what happened, rather than detailing the plot. Detailing the plot seems a bit pointless, since everyone reading this SHOULD be people who have read the book, and therefore know what has happened.

OK, so is it just me, or was it painfully obvious by about 30 pages in (or maybe less, I'm just guesstimating) that Orion was the "dead" Elder/Eldest? It got to the point that I thought Beth Revis was trying to make it painfully obvious, and maybe she was. But if so, why? And even the other "big" plot twist, the fact that Elder was the one who woke up Amy, wasn't that shocking. I guess this book just didn't surprise me much.

On the other hand, the world that Beth Revis has created is just so great. I found myself constantly thinking about Brave New World, and how they took Soma to be content, like how the Feeders are constantly on Phydus. And the way that, rather than having children constantly, they have the season, is so disturbingly interesting. Also, the sane people, the ones who are immune to Phydus, are considered to be the crazy ones who are locked up in the hospital. I just really enjoyed how it was very dystopian, but also very sci-fi and mystery at the same time. 

And clearly, the most heart-wrenching moment was when Harley, one of the most enjoyable characters in the book, decides to commit suicide. That was just so insanely sad. But honestly, I was also extremely sad when they froze Orion. I can understand why Amy hates him so much, and why what he did was so terrible, but at the same time, even though I figured out early-on who he really was, I couldn't help but like the guy. He genuinely thought that he was doing the right thing for the ship- for his people- even when it wasn't his responsibility anymore. And of all the people on the ship, he was the most insatiably curious; the free thinker. He wasn't going to take what he was told at face-value, and I can appreciate that.

I also really enjoyed how Elder and Amy learned about each other's different lifestyles- how Elder believes the season is natural; how Amy is perplexed by the mono-ethnicity of the spaceship. This world-building is both great and detrimental. Like most first books in a series or trilogy, this book focuses pretty heavily upon world-building. There are some exciting moments, but most of the book is discovery- nothing that's going to get your heart racing. However, it's really interesting to be introduced to a world from not only the eyes of someone who has been a part of that world his whole life, but also from the eyes of Amy, who is being introduced to the world right along with you. This is, in my opinion, the biggest advantage to having the two different POVs. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book despite the faults I found within it! 

A Million Suns

Once again, I'm going to have a spoiler-free (unless you haven't read Across The Universe!) section, and then dive into the spoilery bits.

A Million Suns picks up at about 3 months after Amy woke up. Elder has taken control of the ship and has taken the feeders off of Phydus, much to the distress of Doc. But then, several intense and crazy things begin to happen on the ship. People begin mysteriously dying and there's unrest among the feeders. Orion, although he's cryogenically frozen, has left videos for Amy, hinting at more and more secrets about the ship that only he knows. Overall, the book is just a lot more action-packed and crazy than Across The Universe.

Before I jump into the spoilers, I'll talk a bit about what I thought of the book. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads but overall, I'd have to say that it's really a 4.5 for sure. It kept me guessing much more than Across The Universe did, and I just really enjoyed the way all the storylines wove together.

Spoiler section! WOW. I don't even know where to start with this book. 

I'm not sure how others feel about Orion's trail of clues left for Amy, but I really enjoyed that part of the book. I always enjoy trying to decipher a clue alongside the characters in the book. This whole thing solidified how much I like Orion as a character, and not only gave a great backstory to his character and solidified his reasoning behind what he did, but also made me feel a little less guilty for counting him among my favorite characters in the series. He gave Amy hints and allowed her to figure them out herself and come to her own conclusions. He showed her the truth, which is more than can be said of several of the other characters in the book.

And some of the realizations, just WOW. All of these secrets about the ship were so interesting and profound. For me, the biggest probably wasn't the realization that they weren't moving, or even that they'd been in the same place since the Plague Eldest, but that they were already to Centauri-Earth! When Elder was out in space and saw Centauri-Earth literally right in front of his face, I think I physically gasped from surprise. Plus the fact that the cryo-level can detach from the ship. Just... whoa.

Adding to the surprise, let's just talk about the villain of the book... DOC. What? I didn't see that coming at all. I found it pretty easy to pick out the villain in both the first and third books, but I was guessing for quite a while. The fact that everyone was killed by Phydus patches should've been a sign, but since a lot were stolen, I never thought to consider Doc. 

And then you add on yet another layer that because everyone can now think for themselves, there's a huge revolt going on, especially after people start dying. And if that's not enough conflict, Luthor is still trying to attack Amy. I'm not complaining about all of these separate storylines- I love it. The layers upon layers make this book so intricate and beautiful. 

I also really appreciated how Amy and Elder's relationship was handled in this book. Neither of them knew where they were at for most of Across The Universe, and A Million Suns takes advantage of that. Even though I was rooting for them and I knew there was no way they wouldn't end up together, I appreciated that Amy wasn't going to decide to be with him just because he was her only choice.

In case you couldn't tell, I liked this book more than Across The Universe. Honestly, A Million Suns is my favorite book in the series. It's action-packed and surprising, and I love that.

Shades of Earth

First off, let's all rage over the most frustrating cover change in the history of EVER. The first two books are SO PRETTY. And then this one comes out and it's the most generic, boring thing. Yes, I think it matches with the book well, and I think it demonstrates the large shift that happens between the books, and I know it wouldn't really make sense for this book to have a spacey cover, but it's so upsetting and depressing. They could've come up with some way to at least keep some similarities rather than just totally re-doing this cover and making the paperback covers match it. I mean...
You will never be able to convince me that the paperback covers aren't the most depressing cover change on the planet. Except maybe the recent Harry Potter cover change that makes me actually physically sick.

Anyway, onto the actual book. As before, this first paragraph will not spoil anything for you if you've already read the first two books in the trilogy. If you haven't read the first two books in the trilogy, what are you doing here?! I told you to go away paragraphs ago! But, if you're that intent on spoiling yourself, be my guest.

The book opens with Amy and Elder finally taking their people down to Centauri-Earth. Once there, they un-freeze the frozens... and begin to get attacked. Whatever life forms they were warned about by the little satellite probes are now attacking them, and they realize just how unsafe this new planet is. Upon becoming unfrozen, Amy's dad quickly takes control of the situation, and tries to tell Elder what to do as well, even though Elder isn't putting up with it. But they all realize soon after arriving that some of their people have begun dying off, and they don't know who- or what- is doing it.

Before the spoilers, here's how I feel about Shades of Earth... I'm not quite sure. I gave it a 4 on Goodreads, but I haven't decided whether or not I liked it better than Across The Universe. More detailed explanation in the spoilery section. However, the important thing to me is that I liked it, and I thought it ended the series well.

I don't know what it is with me and discovering the villain only like 30 pages in, but immediately when Amy noticed something weird about Chris's eyes, I knew something was up. I wasn't quite sure what, but he was definitely really shady. Always at the right place at the wrong time.

Even though the plot of this book was really great, and the new characters were great, and the new world was built great, I missed being in the spaceship. I loved that little world on the ship, and I didn't really want the plot to take us away from there, because space is clearly more fun than a second earth. I guess that's kinda parallel to how many of the shipborns felt, leaving their only homes behind. 

Beth Revis was really, really intent on killing off all the characters, wasn't she? Any shipborn that Amy interacted with enough for us to know their name, they died. Any named earth-born, they died as well. Basically any named human was killed. The worst for me was definitely Orion. He didn't even get to see Centauri-Earth. However, when we all thought Elder had died from hitting the space station, I was definitely the saddest at his death. Elder was my favorite character throughout the series, and I was really sad.

The whole realization that humans had actually colonized Centauri-Earth back before even the Plague Eldest and that they had developed Phydus was really surprising. It was a really cool plot twist that I wasn't expecting. Even more interesting was the hybrids who were living on Centauri-Earth. I wish we could've learned even more about them by the end of the book.

Speaking of the end... that ending, man. Amy is injected and becomes a hybrid, and literally everyone dies. She goes back to live with the hybrids, and then... the last chapter. ELDER IS ALIVE. Biggest relief ever. Amy can finally truly be home now that she has Elder.

My one complaint... how on Centauri-Earth did Amy's dad not realize that he had an extra soldier immediately?! Colonel Martin was completely on top of everything constantly (although occasionally confused). I know he found out about Chris sooner than anyone else, but how did he not notice immediately that Chris wasn't one of the frozens? Or even that hmmm... I came with 9, so who is this 10th person?

I still can't decide whether I liked Across The Universe or Shades of Earth better. I like the world and the plot of Across The Universe, but I felt like Shades of Earth was such a nice little bowtie on the series, and I loved the way the characters had grown by the time they reached this book.

Overall Series Opinion:

I really, really enjoyed this series. Although in general, none of the books were huge standouts, overall they created a really great trilogy. The way that the secrets continued through all the books was so great. They were still solving Across The Universe mysteries in Shades of Earth, which shows how incredibly thought out this series was. Overall, I think this trilogy is probably going to become one of my all-time favorites.

So, that's it for this post! I hope y'all enjoyed my opinions about the Across The Universe Trilogy. Have you read it? What did you think of it? If you like my posts, it'd be awesome if you'd follow/subscribe, since it lets me know you're enjoying my posts! Thanks, y'all!

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